Originally created 09/23/99

Excitement, but no homers at Wrigley



CHICAGO -- Steve Trachsel is linked to Mark McGwire forever. He's the pitcher who surrendered Big Mac's 62nd homer last season, a part of history the Chicago right-hander could do without.

So Wednesday, with the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field and conditions ideal for home runs, Trachsel made sure he didn't become the answer to another trivia question.

"He did it once, and as far as I'm concerned, that's enough," Trachsel said.

Trachsel helped hold McGwire hitless and the Cardinals' staff did the same to major league home run leader Sammy Sosa as the Cubs beat St. Louis 5-3.

McGwire went 0-for-3 with two walks. Sosa, who still leads the homer derby 61-59 with 10 games to play, also walked twice in an 0-for-2 day.

"I very much tried to make good pitches. It was a close game and we didn't want to give into him and let him beat us," said Trachsel (7-17), who also avoided a 20-loss season with the victory.

"We were able to keep the ball away from him for the most part and get him out."

McGwire and Sosa will go head-to-head three more times, in the final season series at Busch Stadium.

McGwire finished the three-game series at Wrigley 1-for-10 and Sosa was 1-for-9. McGwire hit his 59th homer Monday, had three walks and six strikeouts. Sosa walked three times and managed only one single in the series.

"It was a great series for both sides, especially the fans," Sosa said. "Everybody wanted to come here for every swing. But there is something you have to understand. They (pitchers) are not going to give it up. You have to take what they give you."

Sosa did come close to a homer in the seventh inning.

He sent a long drive to right center, but center fielder J.D. Drew jumped into the ivy to catch the ball as Cardinals right fielder Thomas Howard collided with him. Drew then threw quickly to the infield and Craig Paquette's relay to the plate nailed Mickey Morandini, who was trying to score from second.

The play at least cost Sosa an RBI as replays showed Morandini sliding around the tag. He trails McGwire 137-135.

"It's kind of tricky out there in center and he hit it pretty good," Drew said. "Luckily, I came up with it. It was a matter of regaining where I was and trying to get the ball into Paquette before Mickey had a chance to get too far."

McGwire walked on 3-2 pitches in his first two at-bats against Trachsel, prompting boos across the park. Trachsel struck out McGwire on another 3-2 pitch in the fifth.

McGwire swung at a 3-0 pitch from reliever Bobby Ayala in the seventh and hit into a double play. Rick Aguilera pitched the ninth for his sixth save, getting McGwire on a fly to center with a runner on first.

Sosa grounded into a double play, then walked twice off Garrett Stephenson (6-2), bringing more boos from a crowd that came to see a home run, not a bases on balls.

"I'm not going to give into them. The wind is blowing straight out," Stephenson said of the breezy 13 mph conditions.

"It's gratifying that I didn't give up a home run. There isn't a hitter on that team you could take for granted and just say, `I'll throw this down the middle and I'll get him out.' I walked Sosa twice, but I went right after him with fastballs."

Mark Grace hit a go-ahead two-run triple in the fifth, an inning that began with Trachsel's single after Cardinals catcher Marcus Jensen dropped his foul popup for an error. Two outs later, Sosa walked and Grace hit a liner to right that eluded Howard and went to the wall, putting the Cubs ahead 4-2.

Howard hit his sixth homer in the sixth, making it a one-run game, but Chicago's Jeff Blauser hit a solo homer in the seventh to restore the two-run lead.

Jensen's first homer of the season gave the Cards a 1-0 lead in the second.

The Cubs scored twice against Stephenson in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Roosevelt Brown and sacrifice fly by Jose Nieves. Fernando Tatis' sacrifice fly tied it in the third.

Notes: Sosa's impact never has been more evident. The Cubs, despite their pitiful play and 61-91 record, set a Wrigley Field season attendance record Wednesday. The crowd of 38,278 gave the Cubs a home attendance mark of 2,669,153, breaking the previous mark of 2,653,763 in 1993. ... McGwire needs one homer to become only the third player in major league history to have 400 in the same decade. Babe Ruth hit 467 during the 1920s and Jimmie Foxx 415 during the 1930s. ... Ken Griffey Jr. had the second-most homers this decade with 381 before Wednesday. Barry Bonds had 360, Albert Belle 348 and Juan Gonzalez 334. Sosa has 330.. ... The Cubs have finally caught Sosa. They now have as many wins as he does homers.

Cubs Morandini suspended for ump run-in

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs second baseman Mickey Morandini was suspended two games and fined an undisclosed amount Wednesday by the National League for "overly aggressive behavior" toward an umpire.

The suspension is supposed to start with Thursday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but Morandini can appeal.

Morandini and Cubs first base coach Dan Radison were both ejected in the seventh inning of a game against Milwaukee on Sept. 17 for arguing a questionable out call at first base.

Morandini appeared to beat catcher Brian Banks' throw, but first base umpire Greg Gibson said he was out. Morandini then ran toward Gibson to argue the call and Radison tried to intercede before they were both tossed.