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A single won't do it for Bonds or Giants

Slugger remains two short of Aaron's record in a 4-2 loss as his teammates lament that focus is on only home runs.

July 24, 2007|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — The Great Home Run Chase -- Barry Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's all-time home run mark, probably the most hallowed record in sports -- brought about 400 media members to AT&T Park on Monday night, a sobering reminder in the home clubhouse of what a one-man show the sad-sack San Francisco Giants have become.

"It's kind of hard on everybody because we're trying to win, and the home run deal is more important," Giants catcher Bengie Molina said. "We all know he's going to break the record, and as a team, we respect that. But we're trying to win games."

The Giants lost again Monday night, 4-2 to the Atlanta Braves, and Bonds remained stuck on 753 homers, two short of Aaron.

With a sellout crowd of 42,679 on its feet for every pitch to Bonds, and the camera flashes creating a strobe-light effect throughout the park, Bonds walked once and grounded out to second twice against Braves starter John Smoltz before singling in the eighth inning against reliever Rafael Soriano to end an 0-for-9 skid.

All the hype produced a playoff feel ... except that the Giants are in last place in the National League West with a 41-56 record with Monday's loss, 13 1/2 games behind the Dodgers.

"They're not here for us," Molina said, surveying the scores of reporters in the clubhouse. "That's the sad thing. Barry is going to get the attention, no matter what. We all hope the best for Barry. We know he's going to break the record. But the point is, we want to win games, and we're not doing that."

San Francisco center fielder Dave Roberts, when asked whether the Bonds saga was growing a little tiresome, rolled his eyes at first.

"I wouldn't say tiresome," he said. "We're excited for him, and to be a part of something like this is pretty incredible. But it's frustrating when the team is losing and no one cares about anything except when he's going to break the record."

With the Giants home after a seven-game trip to Chicago and Milwaukee, Larry Baer, executive vice president, said there was "a huge air of anticipation" surrounding Bonds. In New York, home of the commissioner's office, there was an air of uncertainty; in Atlanta, home of Aaron, there was an air of indifference.

Bonds, who turns 43 today, has long been the subject of steroid allegations and is facing a possible federal indictment on perjury and/or tax evasion charges. Aaron has said repeatedly he will be nowhere near Bonds when the record falls.

Commissioner Bud Selig, who attended all three Giants-Brewers games in Milwaukee over the weekend, was not in San Francisco on Monday, and there was no definitive word whether he would travel here if Bonds were on the verge of the record.

Would the Giants feel snubbed if Aaron and Selig were no-shows?

"No," Baer said. "Hank has to do what he believes is right, Bud has to do the right thing as the commissioner of baseball, and we have to do the right thing for the San Francisco Giants."

Baer said the Giants have "a few things planned" but didn't predict a lengthy in-game ceremony.

"We don't want it choreographed or scripted," he said. "We want it to be in the moment, with Barry and the players scripting as much as possible."

What if Bonds, who was not available before or after Monday night's game, breaks the record on the road? The Giants open a series in Dodger Stadium next Tuesday.

"We'll coordinate with the other teams," Baer said. "They've been great. They'll give us appropriate, respectful treatment."

Even the Dodgers, their hated rivals?

"We haven't talked to them yet," Baer said with a chuckle. "But they'll be good. When San Francisco considered moving to St. Petersburg [Fla.] in 1993, [former Dodgers owner] Peter O'Malley was the driving force behind keeping the Giants in San Francisco.

"The Giants and Dodgers are big rivals on the field, but off the field, we need each other, we like each other, we want to take care of each other ... except when they steal our general manager."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

CHASING AARON

Hank Aaron surpassed Babe Ruth's home run record of 714 in 1974, and finished with 755. Barry Bonds is closing in on Aaron's record:

* Home runs: 753.

* Monday: 1 for 3, 1 walk.

* Projected date to break record: Aug. 8, vs. Washington.

* Next for Giants: vs. Braves today (Tim Hudson).

* Bonds vs. Hudson: .474 (9 for 19), 4 home runs.

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