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No celebrating for Sammy
Hurricane, loss tempers Sosa's excitement over HRs
Posted: Wednesday September 23, 1998 08:23 PM
Sosa's thoughts and prayers were with his countrymen Wednesday in the hurricane-ravaged Dominican Republic and with teammate Brant Brown, whose error might end up costing the Cubs the NL wild-card berth.
Brown dropped a fly ball that would have been the game's final out, allowing three runs to score in Milwaukee's stunning 8-7 victory over Chicago. The Brewers had trailed 7-0.
Sosa's homers once again put him back into the home run race when it looked like he was all but out of it. Just a day before, even he had conceded that McGwire would probably hold the record at the end of the season.
While Sosa broke out of an 0-for-21 slump with the solo homers, his thoughts were elsewhere after the game.
"What happened to Brownie today can happen to anybody who plays this game and I think that he has a lot of support from our team," Sosa said. "We haven't given up yet. We have three games to go. We need to just forget about it today and keep going."
Sosa's slump-buster came on the same day his homeland began recovery from Hurricane Georges, which set off looting and street violence. Seventeen people died and much of the country lost power.
Most of Sosa's immediate family members were in Chicago, where they had gathered for the "Sammy Sosa Celebration" last weekend, but the slugger was concerned about many relatives and friends back home.
"Right now, the news that I've been hearing is it's a disaster down there," Sosa said. "It is bad."
Even though Sosa jumped back into the homer race, he stuck by his prediction that the St. Louis Cardinals slugger will emerge as the Home Run King because he can swing for the fences with abandon with his team out of the playoff race.
"I still have that feeling for Mark. I think that he's going to finish right in front of me," Sosa said. "For me, it don't make no difference. I think I have another thing to think about."
The playoffs. But you can bet he'll be keeping an eye, too, on McGwire. The Cardinals faced Houston on Wednesday night in St. Louis, where McGwire has hit a Busch Stadium record 33 home runs this season.
The Cubs slugger, picking on his favorite pitching staff, homered against Milwaukee in the fifth and sixth innings, giving him 12 against the Brewers this season.
No. 65 gave Sosa 11 multihomer games this season, tying the major league record set by Detroit's Hank Greenberg in 1938.
Sosa got his first homer of the day with one out in the fifth off rookie left-hander Rafael Roque, who also gave up McGwire's 64th homer. After walking his first two times up against Roque, Sosa hit a 1-0 fastball 344 feet to the opposite field.
Then with two outs in the sixth, he hit a 2-2 fastball 410 feet to straightaway center off rookie right-hander Rod Henderson.
There was no mad scramble for the record-tying ball it bounced off the bleachers and back onto the grass, where center fielder Marquis Grissom retrieved it and tossed it to the infield. Shortstop Mark Loretta then rolled it to Sosa in front of the Cubs' dugout.
Sosa didn't talk to the fan who caught No. 64.
"No, but I have 65," he said with a devilish grin.
Sosa had not gotten a hit and had struck out eight times since hitting a grand slam last Wednesday in San Diego for No. 63.
Sosa's 12 home runs against the Brewers are the most by a player against one team since Roger Maris connected 13 times off the Chicago White Sox in 1961, the year he hit 61 homers.
"Well, I have to say this is my lucky team," Sosa said.
Earlier this month, Sosa connected for Nos. 59-62 against Milwaukee during a three-game series at Wrigley Field, jumping back into the home run race after McGwire had broken Maris' single-season record on September 8.
McGwire broke his tie with Sosa by hitting home run No. 64 in Milwaukee on Friday night off Roque, then connected for No. 65 on Sunday.
"We've done our part to keep this thing alive," Brewers manager Phil Garner said of the home run race. "That's for sure."
McGwire also hit what many believed was No. 66 on Sunday. But umpire Bob Davidson ruled fan interference and stopped McGwire at second with a ground-rule double off Henderson.
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