Sammy Sosa doesn't appear weary from his home run race with Mark McGwire. But his bat? Well, that's a different story.
So Friday he decided to borrow one and wrap his fingers around a fresh piece of wood.
The result? His 49th homer.
"I was using a white bat before and probably that white bat was a little tired right now. So I had to change it," said Sosa after the Chicago Cubs rallied with two ninth-inning runs off Robb Nen to beat the San Francisco Giants 6-5.
"I went to a black bat. I went to Glenallen Hill's bat to tell you the truth. So I used his bat and, hey, it came through," Sosa said.
Hill had hit a pinch-hit grand slam Thursday to pace a come-from-behind win over the Giants.
On Friday it was Jose Hernandez who delivered a game-winning single off Nen, the Cubs' third hit of the ninth off the Giants' relief specialist.
"I was just praying it would get on the line and with Mark Grace on third I knew we had a chance to win. I was just trying for a fly ball or a hit," Hernandez said.
Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Sosa singled with one out off Nen (7-4) and Grace walked. Henry Rodriguez then lofted a broken-bat single to right to drive in Sosa and tie the game.
Hernandez singled down the right-field line over a drawn in infield as Nen blew his fourth save in 35 opportunities.
"Sosa's ball was where I wanted it and Rodriguez's ball was, too," Nen said. "They were good pitches and it just ddn't happen. It's part of the game but not the best part of the game. You hate to blow a save a like that, especially after the guys fought so hard."
Felix Heredia (1-3) got two outs for the victory.
Sosa moved within two of McGwire's major-league home run lead. His 49 homers ties Andre Dawson for second most in club history, a mark Dawson set in 1987.
The club and National League record is 56 set by Hack Wilson in 1930.
McGwire entered Friday's play with 51 after hitting two Thursday against the Mets. He hit two homers to Sosa's one when the Cardinals and Cubs played Wednesday.
Sosa said he watched both of McGwire's homers Thursday.
"I'm pulling for Mark and I hope he breaks the record. I know I have a lot of opportunities myself but I'm not thinking about it. Whatever happens, happens. I'm in a different situation".
"And today besides the home run, I hit two bloopers and I appreciated it very much, one for an RBI and one in the last at-bat which was a key. I'll take anything."
Entering the game, the Cubs trailed the Mets by a half-game in the NL wild-card race. The Giants are now four games back of the Cubs.
Trailing 4-3 the Giants took the lead in the eighth as Barry Bonds walked and Jeff Kent singled off reliever Terry Mulholland. After a sacrifice by Ellis Burks, Charlie Hayes hit a two-run double to right center off Matt Karchner to make it 5-4.
Sosa hit an RBI single in the third to break a 1-1 tie. In the fifth after Lance Johnson singled and Mickey Morandini forced him at second, Sosa drove a 3-2 pitch from Orel Hershiser into the bleachers in left center field.
Kerry Wood, without a victory in four starts since July 31, allowed five hits and three runs in six innings and gave up Kent's two-run homer in the sixth, his 21st of the season.
Wood walked three and struck out three, his lowest strikeout total since striking out two on April 24 against the Dodgers.
Bonds went 1-for-4 and is still one homer shy of becoming the first player in major-league history to have 400 homers and 400 stolen bases.
San Francisco scored first on Brian Johnson's third-inning double and an RBI single by Rich Aurilia.
Johnson hit a two-out RBI single in the third and scored on Sosa's hit for a 2-1 lead.
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