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Bonds within two of Babe, slugs No. 712

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The Padres were in a perfect situation to
challenge Barry Bonds: a three-run lead in the eighth inning with
nobody on base.

Giants fans got what they came to see, and now Bonds is two home
runs from tying the Babe.

Bonds hit his 712th homer in San Francisco's 5-3 loss to San
Diego on Tuesday, moving him even closer to matching Babe Ruth's
total for second place on the career list.

Bonds sent a full-count, 96 mph fastball from Scott Linebrink
over the center-field wall for a solo shot that traveled an
estimated 440 feet. Linebrink became the 419th pitcher to surrender
a home run to Bonds.

"The fast ones I'm able to see. The slower ones I'm missing,"
Bonds said, smiling. "He challenged me one time too many."

The seven-time NL MVP, as popular as ever in his home ballpark
despite the steroids accusations surrounding him, came home to
chants of "Barry! Barry!" and a loud standing ovation -- and he
gave the fans a wave before disappearing into the dugout. His home
run total flashed on the scoreboard between innings.

Now, the 41-year-old Bonds will resume his chase for No. 714 on
the road. The Giants open a two-game series Wednesday night in
Milwaukee -- where home run king Hank Aaron played much of his
career -- and then start a three-game, weekend set in Philadelphia.

Aaron holds the career record with 755 homers.

"I want him to do it as soon as possible -- 715 as soon as
possible," Giants manager Felipe Alou said. "Do the other one
here, 756 at home. You can't wait. You never know. ... Barry's not
31 years old. Go ahead and do it. If they give him a pitch to hit,
I'm pretty sure he'll hit it."

Bonds said he hadn't thought about the possibility of tying or
passing Ruth in the city where Aaron once ruled.

"I don't know," he said. "I haven't done it yet. I can't
answer that question. ... I don't like talking about it at all,
because there's nothing really to talk about at this moment."

After this trip, the Giants return home, where Bonds will first
play Houston on Monday in a makeup game and then face former
manager Dusty Baker and the Chicago Cubs.

Bonds' big hit overshadowed Mike Cameron's first home run with
the Padres, a two-run shot in the first that helped Woody Williams
end a three-start winless stretch.

"It's how you want to face him," Padres manager Bruce Bochy
said of Bonds. "It looked like he didn't have a chance. He fought
off some tough pitches and then crushed one to center. You can't
forget how awesome he is just because his knee is bothering him."

Bonds was 0-for-2 with a walk before hitting his 82nd home run
against the Padres, his top victim.

With the Padres up three runs and nobody on base, Linebrink
didn't have to think about whether to pitch around Bonds.

"You face him enough times, he's going to get everybody,"
Linebrink said. "He's one of the greatest hitters in the game. You
always have a little more adrenaline when it's Bonds. He's so
deadly. He's got such a quick bat. The only chance you've got is to
pitch him away."

With one out in the sixth and nobody on, Williams (2-1) walked
Bonds on six pitches. It was Williams' lone walk in 5 2/3 strong
innings in which he struck out three and allowed two runs and five
hits.

Trevor Hoffman recorded the final three outs for his fourth save
in as many chances.

Bonds played only six innings in Monday's 10-4 loss, a move to
keep him fresh to play in a day game following a night game, which
has not been his typical practice in recent years.

"He gave him a 96 mph fastball," Alou said. "In his last at-bat, it was a 41-year-old playing a day game after a night game. That was an awesome pitch. It was not easy. But Barry knows how to swing like that on a fastball."

Now, Bonds has no plans to sit out despite his tender right knee
that underwent three operations last year and limited him to 14
games in 2005.

"I'm playing. Moises [Alou] has been out there every single
day," Bonds said. "His legs are a little bit sore. I'm playing.
I've got to get through it, regardless."

Dave Roberts added an RBI triple and Brian Giles and Mark
Bellhorn each doubled in a run for San Diego, which won three in a
row for the first time all season.

Pedro Feliz hit his third homer of the year in the Giants' third
straight loss.

Steve Finley hit his fifth triple of 2006. The 41-year-old
Finley is the active leader in triples with 117 and he has his most
this season since he hit 10 for Arizona in 2003.

Matt Morris (2-2) struggled early but settled down. He won his
first two starts of the year but hasn't had a victory in four
since, getting two straight no-decisions before Tuesday's loss.

Morris took a knee to the right calf in the seventh covering
first base on Giles' fielder's choice but stayed in the game and
recorded his 1,000th career strikeout of Bellhorn to end the inning
-- his fifth of the game.

Roberts got aboard on second baseman Kevin Frandsen's throwing
error to start the game, then Cameron sent the first pitch from
Morris into the left-field seats for his first homer with the
Padres. He missed the team's first 17 games with a strained muscle
in his left side.

Game notes
Williams singled in the fourth for his first hit of the
year. ... Moises Alou, the RF who hurt his left hip on a
ninth-inning double play Sunday against the Diamondbacks, didn't
start for the second straight game. ... San Francisco 1B Lance
Niekro returned to the lineup after missing two games with a head
cold.