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Giants roll, but 'ghost' of Babe getting to Bonds

HOUSTON (AP) -- Barry Bonds said any kind of hit would do.

Then the San Francisco slugger made good on that statement,
lining an RBI double to right in the third inning of the Giants'
10-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday night for his first
hit in six games.

Yet Bonds' streak without a home run reached seven games and he
remained stuck at 713 in the tiny section of Texas listing 713 as
its area code. He remained one homer shy of tying Babe Ruth for
second place on the career list.

"This thing, it's like chasing two ghosts, you know?" Bonds
said before the game. "Babe Ruth, I think he just kind of hovers
over people a lot."

On a warm night at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park, where the
thermometer read 76 degrees at first pitch, Bonds watched teammate
Pedro Feliz hit his fourth career grand slam and Randy Winn lead
off the game with his fourth homer of the year.

Bonds went 1-for-3 with the double, a walk, a called strikeout
and a popup before Jason Ellison replaced him in left field in the
seventh. Mike Matheny drove in two runs and Feliz matched his
career high with five RBI for the Giants a day after they lost a
weekend series to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I like to see when they walk people in front of me," Feliz
said. "I want to get it more. They might think I'm going to be an
easy out."

Bonds scored in the Giants' five-run third, when Feliz hit the
first pitch he saw off the brick facade in left field for his
team-leading seventh homer. The Giants' big offensive performance
made it an easy night on fill-in starter Brad Hennessey (3-1), who
pitched well in place of struggling rookie Matt Cain.

Bonds has made history in Houston before. It was here in October
2001 when Bonds hit his 70th home run to tie Mark McGwire on the
way to the single-season record of 73.

Exhausted and sore but playing for the seventh straight day,
Bonds said he has become impatient at the plate as the pressure
mounts for him to move past Ruth.

Despite his struggles, he's still getting walked -- including on
four pitches from rookie Taylor Buchholz in the first inning
Monday.

"I'm accustomed to it," Bonds said in an impromptu media
session in the dugout before the game. "I just haven't been
patient with the opportunities that I have. I'm swinging at a lot
of pitches that I normally wouldn't swing at. I'm taking more
chances than I ever have in my whole entire career. Right now, I
just haven't had that patience to wait it out."

The 41-year-old Bonds, booed by Astros fans whenever he moved,
hasn't homered since a 450-foot shot to right May 7 at
Philadelphia. He ended an 0-for-15 funk with the double -- his first
hit since a seventh-inning single last Tuesday night against Cubs
left-hander Scott Eyre. Bonds went 1-for-18 during the Giants' last
homestand.

Buchholz (2-3), who retired Bonds twice last month in his only
appearance against the seven-time NL MVP, avoided becoming the
420th pitcher to give up a homer to the slugger. That's partly
because he only lasted three innings.

"We went after him to get him," Astros manager Phil Garner
said. "Taylor just walked him the first at-bat. It was not an
intentional walk. He was just missing his pitches. We got him
another at-bat and he got us another at-bat."

Bonds returned to the cleanup spot following two games in the
No. 3 hole -- his first appearances in that spot since 2003 -- a move
manager Felipe Alou had said might be long-term.

"It really didn't help anything to bat him third for two
days," Alou said. "It was not right. It was not comfortable. It
was not productive. He'd rather bat fourth."

Houston has given up 37 of Bonds' home runs. Bonds didn't play
in last Monday's makeup game with the Astros in San Francisco after
the cross-country flight from Philadelphia.

Since his homer against the Phillies, his fifth this season,
Bonds hasn't hit one out in 22 at-bats. Booed as he stepped into
the batter's box Monday night, Buchholz quickly walked him.

Bonds was booed loudly two more times when he made back-to-back
catches in left field in the second. Fans waved yellow and green
sheets of paper with asterisks printed on them -- a reference to
Bonds' alleged steroid use and how many believe his milestones are
tainted.

Another sign read "Barry: Brought to you by BALCO." The Bay
Area Laboratory Co-Operative was the supplier of designer steroids
for many professional athletes.

Alou said Bonds would play again Tuesday night and that he might
give the slugger a day off Wednesday, meaning Bonds would have
close to three days to rest with an off day for the team Thursday
before Friday's series opener at Oakland -- where Bonds can be the
designated hitter for the interleague matchup.

Garner -- like Dodgers skipper Grady Little before him -- said he
wouldn't pitch to Bonds in key situations.

"If it's a factor in the ball game and he can hurt us, then
we're just not going to pitch to him," Garner said. "We're out to
win the ball game. If it's not going to have a bearing on the game
we'll pitch to him. I'd just as soon not see him celebrate on our
turf."

Hennessey allowed seven hits, struck out four and walked three
in five innings, though Alou said Cain was expected to pitch Sunday
against the Athletics. Mike Lamb doubled in the Astros' run.

The Giants hope winning will help Bonds' chances.

"I think if we do that, the other stuff will come around for
him," Hennessey said.

Game notes
Feliz also had five RBI on Aug. 15, 2005, at Colorado. ...
Winn hit his 10th career leadoff homer and fifth with the Giants.
... Houston Rockets forward Tracy McGrady and his 4-year-old
daughter, Layla, had front-row seats behind home plate. ... Mark
Sweeney started at 1B for the Giants because Lance Niekro had a
sore lower back. ... Craig Biggio's 620th double tied him with
Charlie Gehringer for 41st on the all-time hits list with 2,839.