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Sosa's 39th, 40th Leads Cubs


Sammy Sosa is in another home run race with Mark McGwire.

Sosa hit a pair of homers to raise his major league-leading total to 40 and Gary Gaetti hit his 11th career grand slam as the Chicago Cubs beat the Mets 17-10 Saturday, dropping New York back into second place.

Sosa had reclaimed the major league lead with his 38th on Friday, but McGwire answered later that night with his 38th in the St. Louis Cardinals' game against Colorado.

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Game Summary

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  • "He'll probably hit two tonight," Sosa said of McGwire. McGwire hit a two-run homer, his 39th, in the third inning of the Cardinals' game against the Rockies on Saturday night.

    Last year, McGwire led the majors in homers most of the season, and he and Sosa captured the nation's attention with their longball heroics.

    "That's what the fans are looking for," Sosa said. "I feel great that we're doing it again. I hope he continues to get hot and I continue to do my job."

    Sosa hit a 3-2 pitch from starter Octavio Dotel over the right-field bleachers onto Sheffield Avenue in the second inning to open a 9-3 lead.

    He led off the eighth with his second homer, hitting a 3-2 pitch from Dennis Cook onto Waveland Avenue over the left-field bleachers.

    It's the third time Sosa has reached 40 homers in a season. He has three multihomer games this year and 36 in his career.

    Sosa added an RBI single in the sixth and now has 81 RBIs in his last 78 games.

    "Sammy's swinging great," Cubs manager Jim Riggleman said. "His timing and everything is right there. He's in a good groove."

    Gaetti, 40, feels pretty good, too, for a guy who seriously considered retiring at the All-Sta break.

    "I didn't feel I was helping the team," said Gaetti, who is hitting .202. "It was the toughest thing I've ever gone through. I'm surprised I was able to make it through that and stay."

    His slam Saturday sparked a seven-run first as the Cubs won for only the second time in their last eight games. He also made a key defensive play in the fifth, faking and then throwing out Roger Cedeno who was trying to score on a bunt.

    "That was the play of the game," Chicago's Mark Grace said. "That's a veteran. A younger guy might not have the savvy or the guts."

    Jose Hernandez, who learned after the game that he may be gone by the trading deadline, added a three-run homer in the sixth and an RBI single in the eighth. Hernandez said the Cubs had talked to his agent and offered a contract extension. If Hernandez does not accept it, he could be traded.

    "It's a business," Hernandez said.

    After the game, the Mets made two deals. The first sent outfielder Brian McRae, pitcher Rigo Beltran and minor leaguer Thomas Johnson to Colorado for outfielder Darryl Hamilton and pitcher Chuck McElroy. The second trade sent right-handers Greg McMichael and Jason Istringhausen to Oakland for Billy Taylor.

    The Mets' Robin Ventura went 4-for-5 and drove in six runs, hitting a two-run homer in the second, a two-run double in the third, a two-run homer in the fifth and a single in the seventh. It was his 17th multihomer game and he ranks among the NL leaders with 84 RBIs.

    Dan Serafini (3-2) picked up the win with one inning of scoreless relief. Jason Isringhausen (1-3) took the loss, giving up five runs on five hits and three walks in three-plus innings.

    The Mets, who rallied from a five-run deficit Friday to win 10-9 and move into first place in the NL East for the first time since April 23, had to overcome a seven-run gap Saturday. They fell back into second when Atlanta beat Philadelphia 8-6 Saturday night.

    "It would have been a nice game to win, coming back from 7-0, but they kept grinding it out, too," said Ventura, who sparked an 18-hit attack, a single-game high for New York.

    "It was such a long game that our playes forgot about it before it ended," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said.

    Riggleman won't forget it or Wrigley Field's windy conditions.

    "We've got to pitch better than that," he said. "There's no difference between our park in July and August and Coors Field."

    The Cubs scored a season-high seven runs in the first. Mickey Morandini hit an RBI double and after Sosa struck out, the Cubs loaded the bases. Dotel then walked the next two batters to force in two runs before Gaetti connected on his second grand slam this year and eighth homer for a 7-0 lead.

    Ventura's first homer in the second made it 7-2. Benny Agbayani then scored when Rey Ordonez grounded into a double play.

    Sosa's homer made it 9-3. Ventura's double closed the gap to 9-5.

    Cedeno tripled to lead off the Mets fourth and scored when Ordonez grounded out.

    Ventura's second homer in the fifth, his 22nd, made it 9-8. Agbayani singled to chase starter Jon Lieber and he scored on Ordonez's single off Serafini to tie the game at 9.

    Jeff Reed hit an RBI double and Gaetti added a run-scoring ground out in the fifth to go ahead 11-9.

    Lieber gave up eight runs on 13 hits over 4 1-3 innings and he is 0-1 in four starts since the All-Star break.

    Dotel gave up nine runs on four hits and five walks over two innings.

    Notes:

  • The 15 runs were a season high by the Cubs and the most since they scored 15 on Sept. 12, 1998, vs. Milwaukee, tops for that season.
  • Ventura's single-game RBI high is eight, set Sept. 4, 1995, when he hit two grand slams for the Chicago White Sox at Texas. His most recent multihomer game was June 28 against Florida when he also hit a pair. He also drove in six runs that game. Ventura now has 16 RBIs in his last 13 games.
  • Gaetti also hit a grand slam on May 21 off Atlanta's Bruce Chen.
  • Sosa has eight homers in 16 games since the All-Star break. With the two homers Saturday, he tied his own club record for home runs over a three-year span.
  • Eddie Vedder, lead singer for the rock group Pearl Jam, fielded balls before the game in right field with the Cubs.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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