SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds was kept out of the Giants' starting lineup Wednesday night after playing all 13 innings in Tuesday night's loss to the Braves. But he's back in the lineup Thursday to resume his chase of Hank Aaron for the lead on Major League Baseball's all-time home run list in the finale of the four-game series against the Braves. "I'm sure this day really helped him, helped freshen him up," Bochy said Wednesday, after his club nipped the Braves, 2-1, on the combined pitching of Noah Lowry and Brad Hennessey. "More than likely he'll be out there, but I'll check with him tomorrow. Today was my decision, but tomorrow I think he'll be out there."
Wednesday was the fifth time in the last 10 games that Bonds has been kept out of the starting lineup, and the second time in the last four. Bonds is stuck at 753 homers, two away from tying the Hammer's 755 and three away from breaking it. Bonds has played four full extra-inning games since June 25 and has started 80 of the Giants' first 99 games, 74 of them in left field. "Bochy looked at me [at the end of Tuesday night's game] and said, 'Sorry,'" said Bonds, who couldn't be replaced in the late innings against Atlanta because his manager had run low on position players. Bochy said the reason for keeping Bonds on the bench Wednesday night was simple. "I don't want to get to the point where he's going to need two or three days," he said. "It was a long game here [Tuesday], so I said I was going to give him a break today." After the Giants host the Braves again Thursday at 4:05 p.m. PT, the Marlins come in on Friday for a trio of games: two night games (including a 6:05 p.m. PT start Saturday) followed by a 1:05 p.m. matchup Sunday. Bochy said before the seven-game homestand that Bonds would likely play five or six games and maintained on Wednesday night that his left fielder was still on that pace. After an off-day Monday, the Giants will begin a string of 31 games in 30 days when they hit the road for six, including three each in Los Angeles and San Diego. Bonds, who ultimately scored the final run of Tuesday night's game on Pedro Feliz's 13th-inning bases-loaded single, looked spent as he jogged home from third base to touch the plate and then limped back to the dugout. It didn't help Bonds' bruised body that he made a sliding, sprawling one-handed catch toward the left-field line to rob Brian McCann of an extra-base hit to open the 10th. "I was really tired, man," Bonds said, explaining the obvious fatigue. After Bonds played all 30 innings of a weekend series against the Dodgers on July 13-15, including a 12-inning day game after a night game, he had to skip three consecutive starts at Chicago on the following road trip because of sore and swollen lower legs. "He looked a little sore there at the end of the [13-inning] game, I could see it," Bochy said. "It was a long game. He made a great catch out there. Last time we had an extra-inning game, he ended up needing the three days. I'm going to try to keep him on the field as much as I can and that's why he [got] a day today." Bonds hasn't hit a homer in a week -- since last Thursday, when he smacked Nos. 752 and 753 into a biting wind at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Bonds has five hits in his last 38 at-bats, with the two homers, six RBIs and 15 walks. On Tuesday night, he went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts looking and a walk, the hit being a fourth-inning single into the right-field corner. Bonds was 2-for-8 with a pair of singles and two walks in the first two games of the series, essentially battling right-handers John Smoltz and Tim Hudson, who challenged the lefty-swinger during each of his plate appearances. Bonds, though, took exception to that characterization. "Challenging me is fastballs, sucker," he said. "Don't throw me a changeup and a split-finger and a slider at my kneecaps. Tell me what's coming and I'll challenge you by putting it in the water [McCovey Cove]. How's that? Challenge is: 'Here it comes, hit this pitch.' That to me is a challenge." By mentioning the pitch to the kneecaps, Bonds was talking about his sixth-inning at-bat Monday night against Smoltz, who throttled the Giants on seven hits in a 4-2 win. Smoltz threw a 1-1 slider inside and low toward the left-handed batter's knees, making him bend and dance away. After Bonds grounded out on the seventh pitch, he came across the diamond in front of the mound on his way back to the dugout and said something to Smoltz, who laughed, put his glove toward his face and responded. Smoltz wouldn't divulge what Bonds said, but Bonds was a little more elaborate. "I told him, 'You trying to hit me? I don't care, not with that pitch,'" Bonds said. "That's my boy there. Me and Smoltzy are tight. We're as close as two people can be on opposite teams, he and [Mets closer] Billy Wagner. We're going to battle each other at times, but he didn't throw me no fastball at my kneecaps, now, did he?"
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.