Sosa joins exclusive tater club

Cubs slugger racks up fourth 50-homer season

Posted: Monday, August 27, 2001

CHICAGO -- Sammy Sosa hit his 50th and 51st homers and powered his way into another exclusive club Sunday.

Sosa joined Mark McGwire and Babe Ruth as the only players in major league history with four 50-homer seasons.

''I'm not going to lie to you. I am very happy to be in that category with Mr. Mark McGwire and Babe,'' Sosa said after leading the Chicago Cubs past the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1.

''I still got to continue. I'm not satisfied right now, the season is not over yet and we have a mission to finish in first.''

Sosa's ninth multihomer game of the season helped rookie Juan Cruz get his first major league win as the Cubs stayed three games behind first-place Houston in the NL Central.

Sosa sent a 3-2 pitch from Dustin Hermanson into the right-center-field bleachers in the first inning for No. 50, a two-run shot that set off a loud ovation at Wrigley Field.

With the injured McGwire on the opposite side, Sosa emerged from the dugout for a curtain call and waved his helmet to the crowd.

Sosa added a solo shot off Hermanson (12-10) in the fifth, a high drive that landed in the shrubbery in center field. He again took a curtain call.

Sosa has reached at least 50 homers in four straight seasons, just as McGwire did from 1996-1999. Ruth reached 50 in 1920-21 and 1927-28.

''Coming from the Dominican Republic, I only have one chance to make it to the major leagues and to have that opportunity to come to the majors and become a good baseball player at that level, and now I'm in the record books,'' Sosa said.

''That's a pretty good accomplishment for me.''

McGwire, sidelined by a hamstring injury, saluted the man whom he beat for the home run titles in 1998 and 1999.

''Sammy's having a phenomenal year. He's doing everything and more,'' McGwire said after the game.

Sosa, who also has a pair of three-homer games this month, has eight homers in his last 10 games and 16 in August to move within four of major league leader Barry Bonds.

''One person will step above the other two in September,'' McGwire predicted of the Bonds-Sosa-Luis Gonzalez homer race. ''It's going to be interesting to see how those three guys get pitched down the stretch.''

''I think the guy over in the other dugout (Sosa) wants to beat (Bonds) pretty bad.''

Cubs manager Don Baylor said he believes Sosa will overtake Bonds.

''I thought that all along. He's a second-half hitter,'' Baylor said. ''He's been accustomed to hitting 50.''

Braves 9, Dodgers 2

ATLANTA -- Andruw Jones hit a pair of two-run homers, and Mark DeRosa and Marcus Giles also homered for the NL East leaders, who won for only the third time in 11 home games. Atlanta opened a two-game lead over Philadelphia in the NL East.

John Burkett (11-8) allowed two runs and six hits in six innings, improving to 4-0 in his last six starts. Shawn Green hit his 42nd home run for Los Angeles.

Jones put Atlanta ahead 3-2 in the fifth with a shot off Eric Gagne (4-6), who gave up five runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings.

Braves manager Bobby Cox and third baseman Chipper Jones were ejected for arguing.

Diamondbacks 4, Phillies 3

PHILADELPHIA -- Reggie Sanders homered in the 10th off Cliff Politte (1-1), tying his career high with 28 homers, and Luis Gonzalez hit his 48th of the season.

Curt Schilling pitched at Veterans Stadium for the first time since being traded from Philadelphia to the Diamondbacks in July 2000, allowing three runs and five hits in six innings with six strikeouts.

Byung-Hyun Kim (4-3) pitched the final two innings for the victory.

Astros 3, Pirates 1

PITTSBURGH -- Ron Villone (6-5) made his first start since June 20 with Colorado, pitching because Pedro Astacio had shoulder stiffness, and struck out eight in 5 1-3 innings. He allowed one run and five hits.

Houston has won eight of its last 10. Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his 30th save.

Rookie Dave Williams (1-6) lost his sixth straight decision, giving up two runs -- one earned -- and four hits in 5 2-3 innings.

Reds 17, Expos 4

MONTREAL -- Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 19th homer and drove in four runs in Cincinnati's highest-scoring game since a 24-12 win at Colorado on May 19, 1999. The Reds tied a season high with 20 hits.

Griffey hit a two-run single off Bobby Munoz (0-4) in the second as the Reds scored eight in the first two innings. He added a two-run shot -- his 11th of August -- in the fourth inning for his 457th career homer.

Adam Dunn had three RBIs and his first career four-hit game, including his second homer in two games.

Juan Acevedo (4-5) allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings.

Rockies 3, Brewers 2

MILWAUKEE -- Larry Walker hit a three-run homer in the fifth off Ruben Acevedo (3-2).

Mike Hampton (13-10) allowed two runs and six hits in 7 1-3 innings and struck out seven. Jay Powell finished for his second save, completing a six-hitter.

Padres 10, Marlins 0

MIAMI -- Kevin Jarvis pitched six-hit ball for seven innings and D'Angelo Jimenez drove in three runs with three hits as the San Diego Padres beat the Florida Marlins.

Jarvis (11-9), who struck out three and walked two, improved to 8-2 in 12 starts since June 25. He escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second by striking out Brad Penny (7-7) and retiring Dave Berg on a groundout.

Chuck McElroy and Jeremy Fikac completed the eighth-hitter as the Padres pitched their third shutout of the month. San Diego got 15 hits.

Mets 6, Giants 5

NEW YORK -- Al Leiter kept Barry Bonds in the park and keyed New York's go-ahead rally in the seventh inning with a rare hit of his own to lead the Mets to a win over San Francisco.

Bonds came within about one foot of his major league-leading 56th homer but had to settle for a triple and another homerless day at Shea Stadium. He hasn't gone deep in his last 30 games at the Mets' home stadium.

Leiter (9-10) allowed three runs and five hits in eight innings as the Mets won their third straight game in this four-game series.

After Rey Ordonez singled and went to second on a throwing error by Mets nemesis Russ Ortiz (14-6), Leiter squared around to bunt before pulling his hands back and slashing a single to center field.

That was just the fifth hit in 104 at-bats over the last two seasons for Leiter, a career .086 hitter.

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