Sammy Sosa's not hung up on racing Mark McGwire or chasing Roger Maris. At least that's what he says.
But his forceful swing, one that looks like it could rip his rib cage apart when he misses, tells a different story.
"I'm not going to lie to you. Lately, I've been swinging a little bit out of control. I was impatient the last couple of days," Sosa said Sunday after hitting his 50th and 51st homers for the Chicago Cubs in a 13-3 loss to the Houston Astros.
"People see the way I swing but it is the same. The only thing I did I was more relaxed and tried to make contact. When I try to pull everything, I get out of control. I told myself to slow down and be patient," Sosa said.
Sosa's 51 homers are the second-most in club history and left him trailing McGwire by two in the race to overtake Roger Maris' 61. McGwire hit his 53rd Sunday in Pittsburgh.
The Cubs' club and NL record is 56 homers by Hack Wilson in 1930.
"We are trying to make the playoffs and Mark's trying to break the record. I got my money on Mark," Sosa said. "He's the type who can hit five or six in two days."
The type surrounding the homer race is not bothering Sosa. He's still joking, laughing and enjoying he incessant notoriety.
| Sammy Sosa hits his 50th home run of the year in the fifth inning. (AP) |
"I'm still having a good time and tonight I'm going to go home and have a couple of glasses of wine with my wife," he said. "I still have 30-some games left. Let's see what happens."
Both of Sosa's homers carried far over Wrigley Field's ivy-covered walls but they couldn't carry the Cubs to victory on a day when the wind was blowing out at 16 mph.
Craig Biggio hit a pair of three-run homers and Brad Ausmus had four hits, including a three-run homer, and five RBI as the Astros increased their NL Central lead to 9½ games over Chicago.
Sosa had gone nine at-bats since his last homer Friday when he drove a 3-2 pitch from Houston's Jose Lima completely over the bleachers in left-center field and onto Waveland Ave. in the fifth inning.
The drive, that cut Houston's lead to 4-2, was estimated at 440 feet.
With a crowd of 38,714 at Wrigley Field standing and chanting his name, Sosa stepped out of the dugout for a curtain call.
That was about all the fans had to cheer about until Sosa came to bat again in the eighth. Then he hit a 1-0 pitch from Lima deep into the left-field bleachers.
Sosa hit a changeup for his first homer, a fastball for the second.
"I enjoyed the first homer myself," Lima said. "I'm not the only one to give up a homer to Sammy Sosa. The second one I said `up, up' in the air and then I forgot it's Wrigley Field. If I struck him out, I'd enjoy it, too. But we got the win."
Lima (13-6) allowed nine hits and three runs over eight innings to win his fifth straight decision.
Ausmus said the Astros went right at Sosa and the score of the game was no factor in pitch selection.
"We're not going to pitch around a guy when we have a 10-run lead or a even a five-run lead when he's pursuing a record like that, especially a heralded one," Ausmus said.
Ausmus' fifth homer followed infield singles by Moises Alou and Ricky Gutierrez and put the Astros up 4-0 in the fourth. The Astros scored in the first when Biggio led off with a double, went to third on a grounder and scored on Derek Bell's sacrifice fly.
The Cubs got a run in bottom of the fourth on singles by Brant Brown and Tyler Houston and a check-swing RBI grounder from Gary Gaetti. Sosa's homer made it 4-2 in the fifth.
Carl Everett and Gutierrez walked to start the sixth.
Moments later when a jet from a lakefront air and water show buzzed Wrigley Field at an ear-splitting decibel, home plate umpire Jeff Nelson ruled no pitch as Steve Trachsel let loose of the ball to Ausmus. Ausmus then hit the next pitch for an RBI single to make it 5-2 nd finish an irritated Trachsel.
Rodney myers, just called up from the minors Sunday, got one out on a fielder's choice but Biggio then hit his three-run homer to left and the Astros were rolling.
Ausmus had another run-scoring hit and Lima an RBI single to finish Myers, who gave up five runs in 1 1/3 innings, in the seventh. Biggio then hit his second three-run homer, this one off Dave Stevens, to make it 13-2.
Trachsel (13-7), who had won seven of eight decisions entering the game, went five plus innings, allowing seven hits and seven runs with four walks.
Chicago still trails the Mets by a game in the wild-card race.
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