Rev. Jackson urging Bonds on

Jackson urging Bonds on

SAN FRANCISCO -- It doesn't get any weirder than this: When the doors to the Giants clubhouse opened after Wednesday night's 8-1 drubbing by the Cubs and right-hander Carlos Zambrano, the Rev. Jesse Jackson was in there and Barry Bonds was not.

Bonds is 1-for-his-last-10 plate appearances since he drew within a homer of Babe Ruth's magic 714 on Sunday night in Philadelphia. And Jackson, like most of the crowd of 39,655, stayed until Bonds popped out in the eighth inning.

Bonds will be in the lineup for Thursday's series-finale at AT&T Park, manager Felipe Alou said. And Jackson, who will be in Los Angeles, left partially disappointed because Bonds, at 713, remained one silly shot short of the Bambino and 42 behind Hank Aaron, the all-time leader.

"I was conflicted," said Jackson, the Chicago native who sat in the stands watching the game with Larry Baer, the Giants' executive vice president and chief operating officer. "I'm a Chicago Cubs fan. I wanted to see the Cubs win and Barry to hit a home run. I wanted both. I hope he breaks this mark of 714, but Barry still has a lot of baseball left in him."

Bonds left the building just as the game ended. Asked if he had gotten a chance to visit with Bonds, Jackson said: "I'm in touch with Barry quite often. But after the ninth inning he left. He didn't want to see you guys [the media]."

Jackson, a friend of the late Bobby Bonds, Barry's father and a former Giants star, has been beating the drums in defense of the 41-year-old left fielder all season. When a fan on Opening Night in San Diego tossed an oversized syringe on the field in protest of Bonds' alleged steroid use, Jackson spoke out and said Major League Baseball needed to tighten up security.

For the most part, MLB and the local teams have. There's only been one such incident since then when a fan was arrested for tossing a toothpaste-like tube on the field in Arizona. Otherwise, it's been jeers and taunts and some creative signs.

"Fans have a right to cheer, they have a right to boo, but they don't have the right to throw objects on the field," Jackson said Wednesday night. "And when they do, they should be expelled. And players have the right to react, but not to go up in the stands. There must be a line between players and fans. When people around the country make their baseball judgments felt, they must do so in a way that doesn't jeopardize the players or themselves."

Of course, the fans in San Francisco are almost 100 percent in favor of Bonds, who has played 14 of his 21 seasons in a Giants uniform. Again on Wednesday night, they stood in anticipation each time Bonds went to the plate even though the Cubs would eventually build a seven-run lead on the way to breaking an eight-game losing streak.

But Zambrano, who earned his first win of the season, got the best of him. After walking Bonds on five first-inning pitches, the slugger who's only a pair of homers away from being the most prolific lefty-swinging home run hitter in MLB history, didn't even come close. Bonds lined to center, struck out looking on a nasty pitch and popped out to third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who was at the shortstop's spot on the shift.

The last at-bat came with the Giants trailing, 8-1, and Alou said he left Bonds in the lopsided game that late "out of respect to the fans."

"No fans left, so Barry couldn't leave, either," Alou said. "I wasn't going to be the one to take Barry out."

to the babe and beyond

Bonds and the Giants will face Sean Marshall on Thursday, and all will be taking their first look at the rookie left-hander. After that, the Dodgers come in for a three-game set and Alou said he anticipates that Bonds will start all three games -- Friday night, plus Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

The show then will go back on the road beginning Monday for three games each at Houston and Oakland.

"I'll be watching like everybody else, baby," Jackson said. "There's a lot of joy for me because I knew his father for such a long time. As an athlete, Barry has made his mark. It's a shame he's under such a cloud because of this drug issue. The court of public opinion is running so heavily against him, he's shown an amazing sense of strength.

"He's innocent until proven guilty. You can't change those rules. In the meantime, there should not be an asterisk by his achievements. If you start putting asterisks by achievements based upon subjective opinion, there would be a lot of asterisks in the game."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.