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Updated: Sunday, June 1, 2003 1:17 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
Houston Astros
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
0 6 1
Chicago Cubs
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
1 10 0
W Wellemeyer (1-0)
L Stone (4-1)
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CHICAGO CUBS 1, HOUSTON 0 (16 INNINGS)
 

CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Sammy Sosa made solid contact when it mattered most.

Sosa singled off the glove of second baseman Jeff Kent to bring home Alex Gonzalez with the only run of the game as the Chicago Cubs outlasted the Houston Astros , 1-0, in 16 innings.

In his second game since coming off the disabled list, Sosa struck out in his first five at-bats before grounding out in the 14th. But the superstar outfielder would get one more chance two innings later.

Ricky Stone (4-1) walked Gonzalez with one out before Corey Patterson singled to right field, where Brian Hunter bobbled the ball, allowing Gonzalez to take third base.

The Astros brought in the infield while also putting center fielder Craig Biggio at second base. Sosa took the challenge and lined a 2-2 pitch off Kent's glove, ending the contest at four hours, 26 minutes.

"I was happy to be able to do something to end this game. A lot of people think it can be so easy to come back after being out so long," said Sosa, who had been sidelined with a toe injury. "It was a great game for both teams. We didn't make any mistakes, that's we had a chance to win the game."

Astros manager Jimy Williams used the extra fielder in hopes of getting a force at home.

"Ricky is a sinkerball pitcher," Williams said. "We thought we can get (Sosa) to ground ball to one of our infielders, but with the infield in, he hit the ball too hard to handle. That's the way it goes."

Sosa, who is 1-for-11 with eight strikeouts in two games since being activated, was not the only Cub to struggle at the plate.

The Cubs set a club record by striking out 23 times, breaking the record of 21 done twice previously, most recently on July 31, 2002 against San Diego.

The 23 strikeouts by Houston pitchers broke the club record of 21 set on August 20, 1999 against Florida.

The game featured 11 pitchers, including six by the Cubs.

Rookie Todd Wellemeyer (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings and struck out four for his first major league win.

Cubs relievers Mike Remlinger , Antonio Alfonseca , Joe Borowski , Kyle Farnsworth and Wellemeyer allowed just three hits over eight innings.

"Our bullpen pitched great and so did theirs," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "It's good that we were able to hold on until Sammy finally got that hit. I'm happy we won."

Saturday's marked the longest 1-0 victory in terms of innings for the Cubs since a 17-inning triumph on September 21, 1901 against the Boston Braves.

With winds at 30 miles per hour gusting in from left field, it was a pitcher's day at Wrigley Field. A baserunner did not reach third until Adam Everett of Houston was stranded there in the eighth.

"With the conditions and time we played, it was really good that we finally the game ended right there," said Patterson, who had three of the Cubs' 10 hits. "It's a good win for us."

Houston starter Roy Oswalt was excellent in his return from the disabled list, allowing five hits in seven innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out eight. The righthander had been in the disabled list since May 15 with a strained right groin.

"I felt pretty good out there considering I didn't pitch for a long time, but we had the elements in our favor with the wind blowing in here at Wrigley Field," Oswalt said. "It's the best pitcher's park in baseball."

Chicago starter Carlos Zambrano was just as effective, allowing just three hits in eight innings with three walks and four strikeouts.

The toughest inning for Zambrano was the eighth, when his wild pitch put runners at second and third with two outs. Zambrano intentionally walked Biggio before first baseman Hee Seop Choi snared a line drive from Geoff Blum to end the frame.

The Cubs threatened in the eighth when Octavio Dotel walked the first two batters he faced and pinch hitter Lenny Harris sacrificed. Dotel responded by striking out Mark Grudzielanek and Gonzalez.

In the ninth, Cubs left fielder Moises Alou threw out Lance Berkman trying to score on a single by pinch hitter Morgan Ensberg .

Houston loaded the bases in the 14th before Brad Ausmus flied out against Farnsworth.

Kent was 0-for-7 for the Astros, who managed just six hits overall.

"It was fun to watch two teams and their pitching staffs pitch that great for that long," Houston closer Billy Wagner said. "You just hate to be on the short end."


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