Originally created 09/24/98

Sosa ties McGwire



MILWAUKEE -- A day after he conceded the home run race, Sammy Sosa struck back.

He hit home runs Nos. 64 and 65 on Wednesday, tying Mark McGwire for the record and breaking an 0-for-21 slump in the Chicago Cubs' 8-7 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

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.

Sosa's No. 65 gave him 11 multihomer games this season, tying the major league record set by Detroit's Hank Greenberg in 1938.

Sosa hit a solo shot to right field with one out in the fifth off rookie left-hander Rafael Roque, who also gave up McGwire's 64th homer. With two out 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.

Both times, Sosa took a quick curtain call to chants of "Sam-my! Sam-my!"

Mired in his worst slump of the season, Sosa said he was concerned only about getting the Cubs to the playoffs, while all McGwire had to worry about was swinging for the fences because the Cards were out of the race.

"He's the one going to finish up there a little bit higher than me," Sosa said Tuesday. "You have to remember, my situation is different. I have to go out there and try to win the last five games."

Plus, "He's swinging much better than me," Sosa explained.

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.

He walked his first two times up against Roque, then sent a 1-0 fastball 344 feet to the opposite field, giving the Cubs a 4-0 lead. His second homer made it 7-0, but the Cubs couldn't hold the lead.

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.

Sosa's slump-buster came on the same day his native Dominican Republic 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.

On Tuesday night, Sosa admitted he was struggling at the plate but promised his swing would return. The Brewers again cooperated.

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 Sept. 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, along with what many believed was No. 66.

But umpire Bob Davidson ruled fan interference and stopped McGwire at second with a ground-rule double off Henderson.

County Stadium was the site of Hank Aaron's 755th and last home run, off Dick Drago on July 20, 1976.



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