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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:39 p.m., Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Baseball: Bonds sits out Giants' 12-1 loss to Cubs

AP Sports Writer

CHICAGO — Barry Bonds is beat.

His legs are aching, he's exhausted and mired in one of his worst slumps ever.

Looks like that chase for 755 could take a while.

Bonds didn't start for the third straight game today, sitting out San Francisco's 12-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs and moving no closer to Hank Aaron's home run record.

Bonds is expected to get a chance to add to his 751 homers come Thursday against lefty Ted Lilly.

"The plan is to play tomorrow," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's just getting another day. He's fine. He's feeling better. I think he's all set to go tomorrow barring all setbacks."

Booed on the way to the hidden indoor batting cage before the game, Bonds had about 10 security personnel around him afterward. He put up both hands while walking from the Giants clubhouse to the Wrigley Field exit, getting both jeered and cheered.

Days away from turning 43, Bonds is worn down from playing 82 games so far. The season has taken its toll on his body — even last week's All-Star game and festivities were a grind — and lately he's spent more time standing in the training-room whirlpool than the batter's box.

The seven-time NL MVP took his practice cuts before Wednesday afternoon's game and waved to the booing crowd before disappearing through an opening in the ivy-covered wall in right to take more swings in a batting cage.

As he made his way, all Bonds had to do was look up to see a billboard reading "755 BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL" on a rooftop. A marquee above a popular pub outside the ballpark read "Barry Who" — a sign that has been spot on this week in the Windy City.

Bonds hasn't homered in more than two weeks since a two-run shot at Cincinnati on July 3. He is mired in an 0-for-21 slump, his longest since a skid of the same length in 2001, the year he broke Mark McGwire's single-season home run record with 73.

Bonds is two away from matching a career-worst 0-for-23 drought during his rookie season in 1986.

"People forget he's almost 43 years old," Giants infielder Rich Aurilia said. "He's still one of the best talents in the game and one of the best players ever. He's been doing this for 20 (plus) years. As you get older, I think more than anything it's about getting some rest. When your body gets tired, mentally you get broken down."

Bonds' absence from the starting lineup is his longest since he sat five straight games in June 2006.

Whether he plays or not, Bonds faces harsh treatment on the road because of the steroid suspicions surrounding his pursuit. Fans chanted "Cheater! Cheater!" when he pinch-hit Tuesday night, lining out on a full count in a 4-2 victory.

"People got their money's worth last night in one at-bat," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He's exciting. He's like the action hero and the villain at the same time, you know. That's what people come to the ball park to see. They want to see Barry swing the bat. And last night he did and hit a ball hard."

The Giants are stuck in last place in the NL West and they know Bonds' quest to become the home run champ could take a while.

"I don't know how long it's going to last," Bochy said. "That's going to be tremendous when Barry does break the record. It's going to be great, but we'd like to make it a little nicer by getting on a roll and winning some ballgames."