Bonds Seeks Elusive 755

After a dismal July, August hasn't started out any better for Barry Bonds.

The slumping slugger tries again to tie Hank Aaron's all-time home run record Thursday night when the San Francisco Giants close a three-game road series against the archrival Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bonds went 0-for-3 with an intentional walk and remained at 754 home runs - one shy of Aaron's mark - in Wednesday's 6-4 loss. He's hitless in 19 at-bats against the Dodgers since a single April 26, and is batting .118 (4-for-34) against Los Angeles this season.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Los Angeles -122 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles -122 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

"Let's not talk about that too much,'' Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. "We don't want to jinx ourselves right now, but we're pitching him tough, and the pressure's on his side. He's the one who has to break the record.''

Bonds' .186 average in July (11-for-59) was his lowest in a month since April 1991, when he hit .177 for Pittsburgh. Since moving within one homer of Aaron's record Friday night in San Francisco, he's 1-for-12 with eight walks.

"Well, the man's 43,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "To expect him to do what he did in his prime is asking a lot. ... I think without question he's not seeing as many strikes, and they're being very careful. He's not getting a lot to hit right now.''

Brett Tomko (2-8, 5.57 ERA), a former Giant, is scheduled to pitch Thursday for the Dodgers. The right-hander has given up one homer to Bonds in 22 at-bats and walked him 13 times.

Bochy said that Bonds would be in the lineup each day as long as he felt good enough to play.

"He feels great - most likely,'' Bochy said of the chances of Bonds playing Thursday.

While most of the focus has been on Bonds, the Dodgers (58-49) are concerned with catching red-hot Arizona for the NL West lead. Los Angeles scored four eighth-inning runs Wednesday to halt a three-game losing streak and remain one game behind the Diamondbacks, who have won 10 of 11.

Luis Gonzalez tied the game with a two-run single and Nomar Garciaparra followed with a two-run homer.

On July 7, 2006, Garciaparra also hit a tiebreaking, two-run shot in the eighth at Dodger Stadium to trump Bonds' 720th home run as Los Angeles won 9-7.

"I don't know if I'm trying to steal anybody's thunder,'' Garciaparra said. "I'm just trying to win ballgames, and today was a good win. We needed that win.''

Omar Vizquel had three doubles and two RBIs for the Giants (46-59), who had won five of six.

Tomko makes his fourth start since moving back into the rotation. He pitched well in his first two starts after relieving for more than a month, allowing one earned run in 11 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp in a 6-2 loss Saturday at Colorado, yielding five runs and seven hits over six innings.

Tomko pitched the Dodgers to a 5-3 victory at San Francisco on July 15. He gave up three runs - one earned - and four hits in five innings. He's 3-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 starts against the Giants.

Barry Zito (7-10, 5.28) looks to rebound from two straight dismal starts. Since beating the Cubs 4-2 on July 17, the left-hander has been reached for 13 runs and 16 hits in 9 1-3 innings over the two outings.

Zito, who will be making his fifth road start in six appearances, is 4-7 with a 5.94 ERA in 12 starts away from home. He's 1-5 with a 7.52 ERA in his last nine starts overall, failing to pitch past the sixth inning seven times in that span.

Zito's first start against the Dodgers in a Giants uniform was not a good one, as he allowed a season-high eight runs and nine hits in six innings of a 10-4 loss April 8. He's 1-1 with a 5.57 ERA in three career starts against Los Angeles.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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