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Sammy Sosa Wins NL MVP Award

Sammy Sosa won the National League Most Valuable Player in a landslide Thursday over Mark McGwire, his rival in the most memorable home run chase ever.

Sosa, who finished second to McGwire with 66 homers, got 30 of 32 first-place votes and 438 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

McGwire, who set the record with 70 homers, got the other two first-place votes and 272 points. Rick Hummel and Mike Eisenbath of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch both voted for McGwire and listed Sosa second.

While Sosa was first or second on every ballot, McGwire got 20 seconds, three thirds, one fourth, four fifths, one sixth and one seventh.

Sosa, given a hero's welcome when he returned to his native San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic last month, created a historic Latin American sweep. Texas' Juan Gonzalez, who is Puerto Rican, won the AL MVP on Wednesday. Sosa is the second Dominican to win an MVP, joining George Bell (1987).

Sosa hit .308 with a major league-leading 158 RBIs one more than Gonzalez as Chicago reached the postseason for the first time since 1989. He also led the majors with 132 runs and 414 total bases.

McGwire, who smashed Roger Maris' previous home run mark of 61, finished with 147 RBIs and a .299 average as the Cardinals stumbled to a third-place finish in the NL Central, 19 games behind Houston and seven behind the wild-card Cubs. McGwire led the majors in walks (162), slugging percentage (.752) and on-base percentage (.470).

Even St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa thought Sosa had the edge when it came to MVP voting,

"I'm so biased it's ridiculous, but I think Sammy deserves it," he during the season's final week. "I don't think he's done more for his team than Mark has, but his team has done more than ours has, so his contribution counts for a little more in my book. Just barely, but that's who I would give it to."

Sosa, who was in Japan for the major league all-star tour, returned to Chicago for the announcement. McGwire, who remained on vacation in Australia, said late in the season that a team's finish shouldn't be taken into account.

"It should be the guy who has the best overall year, no matter if his team is in last place or first place," he said.

Houston's Moises Alou was third with 215 points, followed by San Diego's Greg Vaughn, who hit 50 homers and wound up with 185 points. Houston's Craig Biggio was fifth with 163 points, followed by Atlanta's Andres Galarraga (147), San Diego's Trevor Hoffman (117) and San Francisco's Barry Bonds (66).

Sosa gets a $250,000 bonus for winning. Galarraga gets a $100,000 bonus and Alou gets $10,000. It was the eighth time a Cubs player won the MVP, the first since Andre Dawson in 1987.

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