A Sammy Sosa homer and a dominating performance by Kerry Wood. That's often enough for the Chicago Cubs these days.
Sosa hit his 47th home run, tying Mark McGwire for the major-league lead, and Wood struck out 11 in three innings. But it took pinch hitter Manny Alexander's RBI single in the 11th inning to give the Cubs a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday.
Sosa's homer tied him with Juan Gonzalez of Texas for the major-league RBI lead at 119. That also matched Sosa's career high, accomplished in both 1995 and 1997.
"To tell the truth, I never think about a homer," Sosa said. "I'm just thinking of the situation and what I've got to do when I go to the plate. My situation is different. When you're in the middle of a pennant race, you can't go up there thinking about home runs."
Wood, who struck out 20 against Houston with a one-hitter on May 6, allowed one run and three hits, walking two. Still, he didn't consider himself dominating.
"I never would use that word; it just so happens I've had good stuff when I've faced them," Wood said. "I didn't have the same results as the last time but I'm very pleased with the way I threw today."
Wood recently complained of a dead arm. Jeff Bagwell didn't notice.
"I don't think you can pitch any better than that first time, but he was very effective against us today," Bagwell said. "He's got great stuff. As much as a hitter hates o say anything good about pitchers, anytime you can throw a 3-2 breaking ball for strikes to go with a 98 mph fastball, you're going to be effective."
Wood raised his strikeout total to 204, becoming only the fourth Cubs pitcher this century to reach 200.
Sosa homered in the fourth, but Houston tied it in the fifth when Carl Everett doubled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Ricky Gutierrez's sacrifice fly. Gutierrez got the only hit off Wood on May 6.
Sosa had gone 17 at-bats without a homer since he hit two against San Francisco on Monday, tying McGwire at 46. McGwire regained the lead Tuesday.
"You have to feel good when you play this well against a team in first place," Sosa said. "It was a great series. It was what we were looking for. We have a lot of confidence in Kerry Wood and he knows that. Any time he goes out there, we feel we have a chance to win."
Brant Brown led off the 11th with a double off Jay Powell (4-5) but was caught in a rundown on Mickey Morandini's grounder. Mark Grace walked, Sosa moved up the runners with a grounder and Glenallen Hill was intentionally walked by Trever Miller.
Alexander then singled to right, making a winner of Matt Karchner (1-0), who pitched two hitless innings. Rod Beck got three outs for his 36th save.
"I was just trying to make good contact," Alexander said. "The first pitch was a fastball and the second one was a cutter. I was looking for a strike, and I got a fastball away and was able to get it in the hole."
Beanie baby day helped draw 52,199, the largest regular-season crowd in the history of the Astrodome. Fans lined up early to be among the first 20,000 to receive a Beanie Baby.
Houston's Sean Bergman matched his career high with nine strikeouts in eight innings. He gave up four hits and walked none.
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