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Bonds' drought reaches nine games in loss to A's

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Playing designated hitter made no
difference for Barry Bonds.

At least not in his pursuit of Babe Ruth.

Bonds' homerless streak extended to nine games after the San
Francisco slugger went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout in the
Giants' 1-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Friday night --
remaining stalled at 713 and one shy of tying Ruth for second place
on the career list.

"I'm staying out of the news, brotha," Bonds said before
hitting the showers and then hitting the road.

Dan Haren allowed two hits in eight innings to win his third
straight start, Eric Chavez had an RBI groundout and Mark Kotsay
doubled twice and singled in Oakland's fifth straight victory.

Haren didn't allow a hit until Steve Finley's two-out single to
right in the fourth and shut down the Giants' offense all game,
escaping a jam with runners on first and second with one out in the
eighth. The right-hander pitched a complete game Sunday at Yankee
Stadium in a 6-1 over New York left-hander Randy Johnson, so he had
been in another spotlight game only five days earlier.

Haren (4-3) had said he wouldn't mind surrendering a milestone
home run to Bonds as long as the A's win. But Bonds never came
close despite his aching body getting a break from standing in the
outfield.

He flied out to center leading off the second and walked on six
pitches in the fourth with Finley on first and camera flashes
lighting up the stadium from all directions. With one out in the
seventh, Bonds lined out to left on a 3-0 pitch -- the first time he
put a 3-0 pitch in play since doing it three times in 2004.

"I was definitely surprised," Haren said. "That could have
easily been the pitch right there."

Bonds struck out swinging on a changeup to end it against Huston
Street, who recorded the final three outs for his seventh save in
eight chances.

"That's the fun part of the game," Street said. "It was one
of those fairy-tale situations. Ninth inning, one-run game, Barry
Bonds at the plate, one of the best all-time home run hitters. To
be able to get the job done for my team was special."

A's manager Ken Macha said he talked to pitching coach Curt
Young before the inning about walking Bonds, but decided to let
Street challenge him.

"He's scuffling a little bit," Macha said of the slugger.

Bonds was booed when he jogged onto the field to warm up before
first pitch, which was delayed 31 minutes because of rain. He
received the same treatment each time he headed to the on-deck
circle, and again once stepping into the batter's box.

"Be a man and admit it, Barry!" one man yelled in a reference
to the steroids accusations surrounding the slugger.

"Steroids!" another hollered.

Bonds hasn't homered since hitting No. 713 on May 7 at
Philadelphia. He is 4-for-29 (.138) with 10 walks and two RBI
since that homer.

"He had some good swings on pitches that were really tough,"
Giants manager Felipe Alou said. "They were pitching to Barry and
got him out. ... They (home runs) will come, especially if they
pitch to him."

Playing DH, he didn't have to worry about injuring his
surgically repaired right knee in the soggy outfield grass or
embarrassing himself with what has become unreliable defense.

The 41-year-old slugger acknowledged earlier this month his
future might very well be in the American League as a designated
hitter. Bonds is in the final season of a five-year, $90 million
contract and is no longer sure he will retire in a Giants uniform.

He is 0-for-6 with two walks in his career against Haren, and
Bonds has never faced Brad Halsey or Joe Blanton -- who start
Saturday and Sunday for the A's.

Macha plans to pitch around Bonds if the situation calls for it.

"I think everybody is interested in a historical event, but I'm
OK if it doesn't happen here," Macha said.

Earlier in the day, Major League Baseball announced a four-game
suspension for Astros reliever Russ Springer after the right-hander
plunked Bonds in the shoulder on Tuesday in Houston. Astros manager
Phil Garner was suspended for one game and fined an undisclosed
amount.

The A's have won the last four in the Bay Bridge series after
taking four of six meetings in 2005, including a 16-0 win June 26.

The Giants had matched their season-best winning streak of three
games following a sweep of the defending NL champion Astros.

Haren won again against good friend and former Pepperdine
teammate Noah Lowry (1-1), who made only his fourth start of the
season after missing time with a strained muscle in his right side.

Oakland, facing a lefty starter for the seventh time in 13
games, loaded the bases against Lowry with one out in the third but
managed only one run.

"I did what I could and it was not enough tonight," Lowry
said. "I know what Haren is capable of. That's not something I
concern myself with. ... I'd take one run in six innings any day.
Those innings weren't easy."

Game notes
Bonds has hit eight of his home runs as a DH. ... The A's
entered the series opener owning the best record in interleague
play of any team at 95-63 (.601). Oakland is 27-24 in interleague
play against the Giants. ... All three games were sold out. Oakland
reduced capacity by about 10,000 seats this year to 34,077 by
tarping off the upper deck. ... The A's issued 120 daily media
credentials for both the Friday and Saturday games. ... Oakland
avoided its first rainout since May 5, 1998, against Detroit though
wet weather was in the forecast all weekend in the Bay Area.