Bonds on brink after hitting homer 754

Bonds on brink after hitting 754

SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Bonds didn't want to leave home this weekend without at least one.

And now after hitting No. 754, Bonds stands a single homer away from tying Hank Aaron's Major League Baseball career-best 755 and two from passing him into first place on the all-time list with only two games remaining on this homestand.

"It's very hard to explain right now because I really can't tell you every emotion that's going through my body," Bonds said after the Giants held on to defeat the Marlins, 12-10, at AT&T Park on Friday, their fifth win in eight games since the big media crush descended on his chase. "This city is great. The fans are fantastic. I don't know how to say thank you enough to them. Not only for myself, but for the organization."

The homer, his 20th of the season, came after seven games of silence and was hit off Florida Marlins right-hander Rick Vanden Hurk with two outs in the first inning at AT&T Park. Coming on a 2-1 pitch that Vanden Hurk called a changeup and Bonds termed a fastball, the smash went into the bleachers left of center and was his first off a pitcher of Dutch descent. Vanden Hurk was the 444th pitcher who has allowed at least one homer to Bonds in his 22-year career.

It was the 19th time Bonds has hit 20 or more homers in a season, one behind Aaron's record.

Vanden Hurk also was the starter and winner here on July 8 for the World team in the XM Satellite Futures Game. It was the first time in his career that Bonds had faced a pitcher born in The Netherlands, although he's now hit homers against hurlers from 17 different countries plus the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Vanden Hurk didn't get the decision this time, but his name was placed on a very significant list.

"Everybody back home knows about it, and I think everybody in the world probably knows about it," Vanden Hurk said. "He's going to be probably the greatest hitter that ever played. I knew when I let it go that I didn't bury it, and I didn't finish it all the way. I just left it up. If you miss pitches off Bonds, you know you're going to get hurt. You can't make any errors, and you've got to make sure you execute every pitch that you throw."

Bonds was showered with adoration from a sellout crowd of 42,831 and was quite animated as he rounded the bases, punching his fists in the air as the ball went out and blowing kisses to his family seated by the Giants third-base-side dugout after crossing the plate.

The punch was for some of the work he did on his swing before the game with coaches Willie Upshaw and Joe Lefebvre, whom Bonds gave a big bear hug as he stepped into the crowded dugout.

"We worked on it all day," Bonds said. "I think I swung the bat all the way until the game started."

When he jogged out to left field, a video message was played on the scoreboard from Michael Jordan, the National Basketball Association star who has six rings playing for the Chicago Bulls. Jordan congratulated Bonds for his accomplishments.

"Hey, Barry, it's Michael Jordan," he said. "I just want to congratulate you on your historic event. I'm very happy for you. Ever since the first day I saw you in the batting cage, you've been working towards this for a long period of time. So I want to wish you and [wife] Elizabeth and that beautiful girl of yours congratulations. I'm very happy for you."

That daughter, Aisha, was sitting next to Bonds at the press conference table just as she has for some of her dad's many milestones.

So far on this homestand, Bonds has heard recorded messages from Joe Montana, the great 49ers quarterback, and now Jordan.

"It was great seeing the board and seeing Michael Jordan say what he said," Bonds said.

The Giants close the seven-game homestand with games Saturday night and Sunday against the Marlins before hitting the road for six games beginning Tuesday night, three each in Los Angeles and then San Diego. And Bonds said he anticipated playing in each of the next two home games, particularly now that he has an outside chance of tying and breaking the record here.

"As far as I know, I'm playing," said the lefty-swinging slugger, who on the evening had the homer and four walks, giving him a Major League-leading 103 on the season. "I haven't heard anything different."

Manager Bruce Bochy said he would talk to Bonds on Saturday to make sure his legs weren't aching after playing the full nine innings Friday night. Bonds has sat out only one of the four games so far on this homestand, although he's still hitting .200 for the month of July (10-for-50) with four homers and 11 RBIs.

"Today, I just wrote his name in the lineup, but when you have a game like that, I'll check with him. I said I don't want to wear him out trying to break this record. We'll go day-to-day here."

Bonds has hit almost all his significant milestone homers in AT&T Park: Nos. 71-73 in 2001 to set the single-season record; No. 500; No. 600; Nos. 660 and 661 to pass his godfather, Willie Mays, into third on the all-time list; No. 700, and No. 715 on May 28, 2006, to pass Babe Ruth into second.

He last homered on July 19 in Chicago's Wrigley Field, where he belted a pair into a stiff wind -- Nos. 752 and 753.

Friday night was only the 11th game Bonds has hit a homer in after opening April with eight long balls and the first he's hit in a game the Giants have won since June 11.

Bonds said the team's predicament isn't making things any easier.

"This is a very different situation than any of my other [milestone] home runs, because all those were hit in a pennant race," Bonds said, referring to playing on a 44-57 last-place team that is 12 games behind the Dodgers in the National League West. "The atmosphere is a little bit different. We as a team, we blame ourselves. We can't go anywhere but up right now."

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.