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Slumping, aching Bonds starts game on bench

CHICAGO -- Exactly a week before Barry Bonds' 43rd birthday,
the effects of his age started to really show.

San Francisco
skipper Bruce Bochy held the slugger out of the starting lineup
for the second straight day against the Cubs to rest his sore lower body.

Bonds pinch hit in the top of the eighth in a tie game with men on first and second and lined out to left field. The Giants did push across two runs in the inning to win 4-2 and end a five-game losing streak.

And the slumping Bonds says he's done calling himself an
"embarrassment" or making any other self-deprecating remarks
during his pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record of 755. He is
four away from tying the Hammer but hasn't connected since a
two-run shot July 3 at Cincinnati.

"I did everything but bite myself and spit on myself," Bonds
said while sitting at his locker Tuesday, referring to his postgame
eruption of two days earlier after the Giants were swept at home by
the rival Los Angeles Dodgers.

"But that's over with. That's past tense."

Bochy initially had hinted Bonds might sit out Tuesday, but then
said after Monday's game that No. 25 would be a go the next night
against the Chicago Cubs. Bonds said his shins and hamstrings are
hurting.

Bonds last sat in back-to-back games June 5-6 at Arizona while
dealing with shin splints. Bonds also acknowledged in recent days
that his legs, feet and toes are swollen -- and that he's just plain
exhausted.

He said during the weekend, when he played all 30 innings
against the Dodgers including a 12-inning game Saturday, that he
was still recovering from the All-Star festivities last week in San
Francisco.

Now, Bochy said he will try to avoid playing Bonds so regularly
in afternoon games that follow night games, saying, "it's going to
change my strategy."

"He needs another day to freshen him up," Bochy said. "That
series against L.A. looks like it took its toll on him. We'll see
where he is [Wednesday]. He's pretty sore and is getting treatment
and icing down. He may not be able to go [Wednesday] either. That's
something I knew would happen in the season, that he may need a
two- or three-day break."

Bochy figures the physical and mental break are good for Bonds,
who turns 43 next Tuesday.

Is the time off helping?

"How can I take a mental break when you're standing over my
locker?" Bonds said, chuckling. "That's kind of dumb."

He was scratched for Monday night's 3-2 series-opening loss at
Wrigley Field after telling the trainers he didn't feel good enough
to play.

The Giants play consecutive afternoon games Wednesday and
Thursday against the Cubs before a three-game weekend series
against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

"It's a day-night game with a left-hander tonight," Cubs
manager Lou Piniella said Tuesday. "With [Carlos] Zambrano
[Wednesday], I'm sure he'll be in there. It's not easy for an older
player. It's difficult."

Zambrano, a right-hander, is an 11-game winner this season.

A federal grand jury is investigating whether Bonds perjured
himself when he testified in 2003 in the BALCO steroid distribution
case that he hadn't knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs.
The panel's term could expire as soon as Thursday, but prosecutors
also might ask a judge to extend the grand jury's tenure.

Bonds is mired in an 0-for-21 slump, his worst hitless stretch
since his record-breaking 2001 season. He played in 81 of the
club's first 90 games through Monday night and was selected as a
starter for last Tuesday's All-Star Game in his home ballpark -- his
first All-Star Game since 2004.

So, he didn't exactly have much down time before the grueling
Dodgers series.

"Yeah, it was a lot," Bonds said. "It's all right. I've done
it before. I know I can. I've done it. That's baseball, brother.
You get tired sometimes in the game of baseball."

Bonds was in an 0-for-17 funk before hitting his 746th homer
against the Rockies on May 27. He had a hitless stretch of 21
at-bats from April 5-12, 2001 -- the year he broke Mark McGwire's
single-season home run record with 73 -- and had a career-worst
0-for-23 drought from July 6-20, 1986, during his rookie year.

When asked about his problems at the plate Sunday, Bonds
answered: "It's an embarrassment for me to be wearing this
[expletive deleted] uniform 'cause of the way I'm playing. There,
that's it. Now go away."

He proceeded to flip over a laundry cart as he walked through
the clubhouse.

On Tuesday, the seven-time NL MVP was again questioned about
what might be keeping him from hitting.

"I went through that already," he said. "I'm done with that.
New chapter."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.