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Conventional wisdom says Bonds is likely to hit at least one home run during a four-game series in which the opposition will trot out a starting rotation of Lannan, Mike Bacsik, Tim Redding and Joel Hanrahan. That quartet owns a combined 34 big league victories.

But given Bonds‘ recent struggles, the Nationals‘ recent success and a lack of familiarity all around, the Giants star may face a tougher challenge than he realizes.

Bonds has batted against only five of Washington’s current 11 pitchers and has enjoyed virtually no success: He’s 0-for-2 against Bacsik, Luis Ayala and Chad Cordero, 1-for-5 against Redding and 1-for-16 against King.

King, a nine-year veteran left-handed specialist, figures to encounter Bonds multiple times during this series. Bonds‘ one hit off him was a home run, but for the most part King has emerged victorious in their head-to-head battles because of a simple philosophy.

“I don’t treat him any different than any other left-handed hitter I face,” he said. “I’m just going to go right after him. I’m not going to do anything different than I’ve done in the past. I’m going to throw sinkers in, and I’m going to throw sliders away.”

The Nationals as a whole will not shy away from Bonds, who has been intentionally walked a record 679 times in his career but will be pitched to this week unless the situation specifically calls for a free pass.

“If the game is on the line and [first] base is unoccupied and we think he can hurt us, we’re going to walk him,” Acta said. “But unless these guys are going to do it behind my back or something, we’re not going to do anything different. He deserves to be pitched [to]. We care about the game. We don’t care about what he does or doesn’t do.”

If Bonds does homer any of the next three nights, he won’t be forced to celebrate his achievement in awkward fashion with Selig, the commissioner who has done everything in his power to distance himself from the controversial slugger. After witnessing most of the Giants’ games the last two weeks, Selig will be in New York and Milwaukee the next three days tending to business.

He’s expected to be represented in San Francisco by Frank Robinson, the Major League Baseball front-office official, former Nationals manager and outspoken steroids critic, which could make for an awkward scene of its own.

Perhaps, then, it was all meant to shake out this way — Bonds playing at home, Selig 3,000 miles away, the plucky Nationals hoping to crash the party and avoid playing a role in one of the most significant moments in baseball history.

“He’s got 755,” Washington pitching coach Randy St. Claire said. “There’s a lot of pitchers who have given it up to him. … As much as we say it’s no big deal to give up 756, no pitcher wants to give that 756th homer up.”