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Sosa Hits 2 HRs, Cards Win

Sammy Sosa almost caught Mark McGwire on his home turf.

Sosa hit a pair of two-run homers in his first two at-bats, giving him 46 overall, but the Chicago Cubs lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5 Sunday on Craig Paquette's two-out, two-run single in the ninth.

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  • Sosa is one homer behind McGwire for the major league lead. McGwire doubled and had a sacrifice fly against Steve Trachsel, the pitcher who surrendered No. 62 last September during the great home run race.

    "I know they're 1 and 2 and they'll probably finish up that way," Cubs manager Jim Riggleman said. "There are so many variables, but nothing's changed, and they're doing it again."

    Both McGwire and Sosa had three homers in the sold-out, three-game series at Busch Stadium. McGwire caught up with the pace from his record, 70-homer season last year on Saturday, and Sosa caught up with his pace Sunday.

    "They got three cookies apiece," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "I don't want to be corny, but I think it's the way it was supposed to be."

    They also combined for nine hits and 16 RBIs in the set that drew 145,635 fans. Busch has never had a better draw since about 3,000 seats were removed to make room for a manually operated scoreboard in 1997.

    "With two outs, all those Cubs fans were up swinging their jerseys around," Cardinals 16-game winner Kent Bottenfield said. "Now, who knows what they're doing on their five-hour ride home?"

    McGwire and Sosa will duel head-to-head six more times, three aeach other's park. They'll conclude the season Oct. 1-3 in St. Louis.

    "It's going to be something," Sosa said. "It's going to be exciting, but I'd just like to wait for that."

    Paquette's single off Terry Adams (4-3) sent the Cubs to their seventh loss in eight games. The Cardinals' bullpen held the Cubs scoreless after Sosa's second homer, and Ricky Bottalico (2-6) allowed one hit in two scoreless innings.

    Sosa hit his 45th homer on a 1-0 pitch from Jose Jimenez in a three-run first inning, with Cubs reliever Steve Rain catching the ball in the bullpen.

    Sosa chased Jimenez, who hasn't won since beating Randy Johnson 1-0 July 5, with an opposite-field shot in the third that put the Cubs ahead 5-2 and gave him his 37th career multi-homer game.

    Sunday's homers gave Sosa, who entered the game in a 5-for-35 slump, seven RBIs in a span of three official at-bats. He hit a three-run shot in the seventh inning of Saturday's 9-7 victory, then was intentionally walked in the ninth.

    Sosa was 2-for-5, fouling out to McGwire at first in the fifth, taking a called third strike in the seventh for his major league-leading 125th strikeout and grounding out in the ninth. He's 9-for-22 against St. Louis pitching with four homers and 10 RBIs.

    A small blemish on Sosa's day was a lackadaisical effort on McGwire's blooper to right in the third, and McGwire responded by legging out a double. McGwire also drew his NL-leading 15th intentional walk in the seventh.

    McGwire's sacrifice fly in the first raised his NL-leading RBI total to 111 and Fernando Tatis added a run-scoring single in the inning.

    Edgar Renteria had an RBI single in the fifth and Tatis doubled and scored on Alberto Castillo's sacrifice fly in the sixth to cut the gap to 5-4.


  • McGwire made it to 10th on the Cardinals' career homer list in 318 games, hitting No. 141 Saturday. Ninth on the list is Enos Slaughter, who needed 1,820 games to hit 146.
  • Castillo has thrown out 19 of 36 would-be base stealers. But Trachsel beat the throw in the fourth for the first steal by a Cubs pitcher this season.
  • Cardinals right-hander Alan Benes made his third rehab start Sunday and worked 2 1-3 innings for Triple-A Memphis, allowing a run on two hits and throwing 34 pitches.
  • Another injured Crdinals pitcher, Matt Morris, played catch for the first time since underdoing season-ending elbow surgery in March.

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