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Cubs Continue Surge, Clobber Twins

There are advertisements on the outfield walls, not ivy, and a Teflon roof instead of open sky.

The Metrodome never will be mistaken for Wrigley Field, but it still was "Friendly Confines" to the surging Chicago Cubs on Monday night.

Cheered on by the largest crowd ever to see an interleague game in Minnesota, Sammy Sosa tied a team record by homering in his fifth consecutive game and Jose Hernandez added a two-run shot as the Cubs extended their winning streak to 10 games with an 8-1 win over the Twins.

Many fans in the crowd of 18,077 chanted "Sammy, Sammy" when Sosa came to bat, and starting pitcher Mark Clark got a standing ovation from the fans behind the first-base dugout when he left in the ninth inning.

Cubs fever clearly is not a Chicago phenomenon anymore.

"Everywhere there are Cubbies fans cheering for us, and more now that we've won 10 in a row and are in first place," Hernandez said. "We haven't done that in a long time."

The winning streak is the longest since 1970 for the Cubs, who are 14 games over .500 (38-24) for the first time since finishing the 1989 regular season 92-69. They remained tied with Houston atop the NL Central, the latest in a season the Cubs have been in first place this decade.

"They're not cheering for me, they're cheering for the team," Sosa said. "The way we're playing you know Chicago has a lot of fans all over the world. People love the Cubs."

Sosa's homer, a solo shot in the third, was his 20th of the season and gave him 11 in his last 10 games. The other Cubs to homer in five straight games were Hack Wilson in 1928 and Ryne Sandberg in 1989.

Sosa also was called out on strikes twice, but he added an RBI single in the ninth. He has a 10-game hitting streak and is hitting .405 with 25 RBIs in that span.

Hernandez, who along with Sosa drove in five runs in Sunday's win over the White Sox, was 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Hernandez has homered in each of the last three games.

Chicago's power surge spoiled the Twins' first home interleague game of the season. The crowd was 4,677 above the Twins' average this season and surpassed the 17,831 they drew for a game against Cincinnati last August, their biggest crowd in the inaugural season of interleague play.

An even bigger crowd is expected Tuesday night when the Cubs send Kerry Wood who is bothered by an abscess tooth against Twins ace Brad Radke. But the Cubs and the 20-year-old Wood again figure to get most of the attention.

"It's kind of sickening," Twins starter LaTroy Hawkins said of the cheers for the visitors. "Personally, I didn't like it very well."

Hawkins (3-6) lasted just five-plus innings for the Twins, his shortest outing since going five in a 7-6 win at Boston o May 6. He allowed five runs on seven hits and three walks to go with a season-high six strikeouts.

Clark (4-6) allowed Minnesota 10 hits and a run in eight-plus innings for his first win since May 16. He improved to 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA against the Twins, including a win at Wrigley Field last year and four when he was with Cleveland.

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the second on Hernandez's RBI double.

Sosa's one-out solo homer in the third, a 335-foot opposite-field drive to right that barely cleared the wall, made it 2-0. Mark Grace followed with a double and scored on Jeff Blauser's double, and Matt Mieske added a run-scoring single to make it 4-0.

Pat Meares' RBI double made it 4-1 in the fifth, but Chicago chased Hawkins when Blauser walked and Mieske followed with a single to start the sixth. After catcher Terry Steinbach threw out two men on the bases, Hernandez followed with a 380-foot shot to left-center field on a 3-2 pitch from Eddie Guardado to make it 6-1, drawing a loud roar from the crowd.

"That's always disappointing," said Twins right fielder Matt Lawton. "But it's nothing we haven't heard before."

Notes: Although this was the Cubs' first regular-season visit to the Metrodome, they played exhibition games here in 1990 and 1994. ... Hawkins' three walks were the most he has allowed since giving up four in a 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay on April 30. He had walked only six in his six starts since then. ... After starting his Cubs career 1-for-18, Mieske is 19-for-41 (.463) and is hitting .339 for the season. ... Mickey Morandini hit three fans with hard foul balls: a woman in the forearm and a man in the forehead on a deflection in the first inning, and another man in the head in the seventh. None was seriously injured.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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