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Sosa ties McGwire at 63 with 3rd bases-loaded HR of year
Posted: Thursday September 17, 1998 02:39 AM
Sosa hit his 63rd home run, a dramatic tiebreaking grand slam in the eighth inning, and drove in all of Chicago's runs as the Cubs beat the San Diego Padres 6-3 Wednesday night.
"It was something exciting, I have to say, especially with the game on the line," Sosa said of his 434-foot shot. "I never thought I would get No. 63 with the bases loaded."
Sosa and McGwire, tied for the most home runs in a season, each have nine games left. Sosa said he didn't care who wins the thrilling race for the single-season homer record.
"I got to the point that everybody wanted me to go, and whatever happens from now on is a gift. Now I want to go to the playoffs."
Sosa, who hit a bases-loaded double in the seventh, helped the Cubs hold their half-game lead over New York in the NL wild-card race.
"Right now, I feel great," he said. "The game tonight was unbelievable."
With flashbulbs popping and most of the crowd of 49,891 on its feet, Sosa drove a 93 mph fastball from Brian Boehringer into the second deck in left field with two outs.
"I tried to go inside, but I left it ...," said Boehringer, who then asked reporters if they saw where the pitch was. "It went off the bat too quick," Boehringer said.
The right-hander wasn't worried about his place in history.
"Nobody's going to remember it when he hits 69," Boehringer said.
Only 22 home runs have been hit to that level, including seven this year - yes, McGwire hit one of them. The St. Louis slugger parked his 43rd homer 458 feet from home plate on July 20, also off Boehringer.
Fabian Perez Mercado, 32, of Tijuana, Mexico, ended up with the ball. He was at the game with his pregnant wife and two children. He is expected to present the ball to Sosa before Thursday afternoon's game, the Padres said.
Sosa had tied McGwire at 62 Sunday when he connected twice in a stunning performance at Wrigley Field. That gave him four homers in three days.
McGwire went back ahead when he hit his 63rd when he pinch-hit for the Cardinals in ninth inning of the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday night.
The crowd went wild when Sosa's ball settled inside the foul pole, setting off a mad scramble for the souvenir, and he was summoned back onto the field for a curtain call. Mark Grace stepped out of the batter's box and Boehringer stepped off the mound during the ovation.
The cheering continued after the inning ended, and Sosa doffed his cap to the crowd when he went to right field.
Sosa tied a career high with six RBIs in a game, and took over the major league lead with 154 RBIs this season.
The Padres, who clinched the NL West title on Saturday night, were bitter about the fan reaction.
"Everyone in this clubhouse feels like we have our road uniforms on," slugger Greg Vaughn said in profanity-laced remarks to reporters. "Hell, let's play all of our playoff games on the road.
"Don't get me wrong, everybody in this clubhouse loves Sammy," Vaughn said. "But how are we supposed to take it? What happens when they leave town on Thursday? Are we supposed just to take them (the fans) back with open arms?"
Sosa hit the third grand slam of his career, all of them this season. None of his first 246 homers in the majors were slams - of his last 24 home runs, three have come with the bases loaded.
"We needed that and Sammy came through for us," winning pitcher Terry Mulholland said. "It was probably one of his bigger home runs for us, considering the time of year."
Sosa put the Cubs ahead 2-0 in the seventh. He finished 3-for-5 with six RBIs as Chicago won its second in a row and fourth in five games. He had been 1-for-9 with six strikeouts in the first two games of the series.
Sosa hit an infield single in the first.
Sosa came into the series hitting .353 lifetime against the Padres, and his 22 homers against them are now his most against any team.
Finley hit an RBI single in the ninth before Rod Beck got two outs for his 48th save, tying a career high.
Dan Miceli (10-5) allowed two runs and two hits in one-third of an inning.
Notes: Sosa's 154 RBIs are the third-highest single-season total in Cubs history. He passed Rogers Hornsby, who had 149 RBIs in 1929. ... Padres rookie Stan Spencer will make his fifth big league start on Thursday against Sosa and the Cubs. Spencer has allowed four homers in 23 innings. The Cubs counter with Mike Morgan, who gave up McGwire's 61st homer on Sept. 7 to tie Roger Maris' 1961 record. ... Boehringer allowed his first earned run in 18 innings spanning 11 innings.
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