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Cubs, Sosa Nail Astros 6-4


The Astros walked the Cubs' No. 8 hitter to get to Mark Clark, and the pitcher made Houston pay.
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  • Sammy Sosa hit a tiebreaking RBI double and Clark capped a four-run sixth inning with a two-run single as the Chicago Cubs beat Houston 6-4 Friday night, snapping the Astros' seven-game winning streak.

    "I picked a good time to get my second hit of the year," Clark said. "It hit in the right spot. I didn't hit it hard enough for them to have a play at the plate. It broke my bat."

    Clark (7-11) allowed four runs and seven hits in 7 2/3 innings. He struck out eight and didn't walk a batter.

    The Astros intentionally walked Jeff Blauser with two outs to face Clark.

    "I knew they were going to walk Blauser so I said to myself that I was going to swing at the first good pitch I saw," Clark said. "He'd been coming in on me all game. I think he was trying to do it again but he left it out over the plate."

    The Cubs didn't fault the Astros' strategy of walking the Cubs' No. 8 hitter.

    "It was a good move, it just didn't work out," Cubs manager Jim Riggleman said. "Blauser had hit a home run earlier and they knew he was warmed up at that point. It was a smart move."

    The Astros had runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth, but Rod Beck got Ricky Gutierrez to hit into a forceout for his 35th save.

    Shane Reynolds (14-8), who has lost four of his last five decisions to Chicago, was in control until the sixth.

    "I still felt good after that inning, I felt my pitches were hitting their spots," Reynolds said. "But I missed a couple o spots and that was the difference. If you miss spots to these guys you're in trouble."

    Mickey Morandini led off with a single and Sosa followed with a double to break a 1-1 tie. Mark Grace singled and one out later Jose Hernandez hit an RBI single.

    After a strikeout and the intentional walk to Blauser, Clark's single to center chased Reynolds, who had allowed only a solo homer to Blauser prior to the sixth.

    "He looked like he was in total command and it was mysterious how quickly it can leave you," Astros manager Larry Dierker said. "He just couldn't recover."

    Sosa went 3-for-5, including his go-ahead double in the sixth after a fan ran down to the Cubs dugout with a sign that said: "Not in our house Sosa."

    Sosa, second in the majors with 46 homers, singled in his first at-bat. But he got a bigger reaction from the crowd moments earlier when he hit a speaker in foul territory and the ball ricocheted into the upper deck.

    "In my situation, it is different," Sosa said. "They used to throw a lot of pitches out of the strike zone and I'd swing at them. Now I don't. Now I'm a more disciplined hitter and it makes me more confident.

    "We're trying to make the playoffs and I know I've got to be there for my teammates."

    Moises Alou hit a two-run homer, his 33rd, off Clark in the eighth to cut it to 6-4.

    Blauser's homer boosted his career average to .473 (9-for-19) against Reynolds, who struck out nine and allowed eight hits.

    Houston's first two runs off Clark came on solo homers by Sean Berry and Derek Bell.

    Notes

  • The Astros missed a chance to go 30 games over .500 for the first time since the final game of the 1986 division championship season.
  • Clark has a 4-1 career record against the Astros.
  • Houston's longest winning streak this season is eight games.
  • The Astros have hit at least one home run in 15 of their last 19 games.
  • Berry's third-inning homer gave him 10 for the season. The Astros have six players with at least 10 homers.
  • The Cubs have homered 154 times this season, compared to 127 for all of last season.

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