Bonds breaks Maris's mark

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The Independent Online

Barry Bonds moved three steps closer to the major league home run record on Sunday night when he hit three in San Francisco Giants' win over Colorado Rockies.

Bonds took his season total to 63, surpassing Roger Maris's 40-year-old mark for left-handers of 61 and putting himself within seven of the overall record of 70 set by St Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire three years ago. His 32 homers on the road also tie the major league record, held jointly by McGwire and Babe Ruth.

Bonds, who registered solo homers in the first and fifth innings off the Rockies' pitcher Scott Elarton and added a three-run effort in the second extra inning off Todd Belitz, said: "I've been in disbelief over a lot of things I've done this year. Everything is unreal."

His pursuit of McGwire's record may become more difficult this week when the Giants meet teams in play-off contention. Bonds is eight games ahead of McGwire's pace, but they have series against two contenders, Houston and Los Angeles. Bonds has 18 games left.

Rockies fans, many of whom had booed him earlier in the three-game series, gave Bonds a standing ovation, and he emerged from the dug-out to acknowledge the cheers.

"I'm kind of rooting for him," the Rockies manager Buddy Bell said, "but I'm glad he won't do it here. What he did today was incredible."

Several of Bonds' team-mates also assembled around home plate to congratulate him, and manager Dusty Baker later said that reports of coolness between Bonds and his team-mates were untrue.

"Everybody in this clubhouse loves Barry," Baker said.