Even with a slim lead, Gabe White decided to challenge Sammy Sosa.
"The Cubs-Reds: City pages:
intimidation out there when he steps into the box in a one-run game like that, a guy with his power, it's pretty awesome," White said after striking out Sosa in the ninth inning Tuesday night to help preserve the Cincinnati Reds' 10-9 win over the Chicago Cubs.
"I made up my mind I was going at him hard," White said. "If he was going to beat me, he was going to beat me with my best stuff."
Sosa drove in three runs to tie for the major league lead in RBI at 129 but failed to homer. Sosa, whose 51 homers are second in the major leagues behind Mark McGwire, was 3-for-5 with two strikeouts.
Facing Reds starter Dennis Reyes for the first time, he had a RBI single in the first and was picked off, and hit a two-run double in the third. He also singled in the sixth off Scott Sullivan, struck out in the seventh against John Hudek and struck out in the ninth against White.
Against White, Sosa fouled one straight back, then pulled a ball down the third base line, just foul.
"He hit the ball hard," White said, "and I'm thankful that it is a game of inches and that ball was foul instead of fair."
Sosa thought the ball was fair. Then White went for the strikeout.
"The last ball was a little bit above the belt and a little bit in; it was the only ball that went where I wanted it to," White said. "The others I just threw as hard as I could and tried to get them close to the plate. The Sammy of old would swing at fastballs out of the strike zone, and I was hoping he would do that tonight."
Sosa went down swinging.
"I was just lookig for a good pitch to hit," Sosa said. "I know I'm not going to hit a home run every time."
Sosa, who tied Texas' Juan Gonzalez for the RBI lead, has 30 games remaining to catch Roger Maris' record of 61 homers, set in 1961.
In a game twice interrupted by 43-minute rain delays, Terry Mulholland (3-5) forced home the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded walk in the seventh, helping the Reds win their fourth straight.
Chicago, which lost its fourth straight, remained one game behind the Mets in the NL wild-card race. San Francisco, which beat New York, is tied with the Cubs.
Hudek (5-5) pitched 1 1/3 innings of one-hit relief, allowing a two-run homer to Gary Gaetti. White got six outs for his third save.
Aaron boone hit a three-run double in the third for the Reds, who wasted an 8-3 lead. Chicago closed to 8-7 in the sixth on Scott Servais' RBI single, Mike Remlinger's run-scoring wild pitch, Lance Johnson's run-scoring single and an error by second baseman Bret Boone.
The Cubs then went ahead in the seventh on Gaetti's homer, his first since Chicago signed him last week after the Cardinals let him go. The Reds tied the score in the bottom half on Barry Larkin's RBI infield single.
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