Friday, September 17, 1999

Sosa: Victory better than homer

Double isn't historic but wins game

The Cincinnati Enquirer

[sosa larue]
Sammy Sosa bats into a double play as Jason LaRue watches.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        Sammy Sosa said RBI Nos. 130 and 131 were bigger than home run No. 60 would have been.

        “The double and two RBI,” he said, “that means more than the home run.”

        Sosa's two-run double in the ninth inning was the key blow in the Chicago Cubs' 7-6 victory over the Reds Thursday night.

        Sosa left Cincinnati as he arrived — with 59 home runs — but the Cubs took the series, two games to one. It was their first series victory since they swept Pittsburgh in a two-game series July 21-22.

        The two wins made waiting for home run No. 60 easier.

        “Definitely,” Sosa said. “Because we're out of the race doesn't mean we have to lose every game.”

        Sosa is trying to become the first player in baseball history to hit 60 home runs twice. It looked briefly like the double might be No. 60.

        When it landed near the wall in right-center just about all of the 23,176 fans at Cinergy Field were disappointed. About half were there to see Sosa hit No. 60; about half were there to root the Reds on in the pennant race.

        A lot of Reds players have been miffed at the fans at Cinergy, who have openly rooted for a Sosa homer.

        Sosa said he hears cheers at every stop.

        “They have to understand what Mark (McGwire) and I have done for baseball,” Sosa said. “Everything we've done is for the fans. The fans appreciate that.”

        Sosa has now gone 28 at-bats without a home run. That makes him no less dangerous at the plate. His two RBI Thursday moved him past Arizona's Matt Williams into first place in the National League league.

        Sosa was 0-for-4 and 5-for-his-last-27 (.185) when he came to the plate in the ninth. Lance Johnson had singled and Shane Andrews had walked in front of him.

        “The thing about Sammy is whether he's 6-for-10 or 0-for-10,” Cubs manager Jim Riggleman said, “he goes to the plate thinking the pitcher's the one in trouble. That confidence is something others should heed.”

        Graves threw a 1-0 sinker. He tried to get it inside. But ...

        “It was a good pitch to hit,” Sosa said. “I did my job.”

        Sometimes that means a double is as good as a home run.


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