Sosa's Home Run Leads Cubs Past Astros

Tuesday, June 29th 2004, 6:00 am
By: News On 6

Sammy Sosa knew exactly what was coming from hard-throwing Brad Lidge in the 10th inning.

``This guy throws 98 mph, so I just said to myself, `Let me go up there and get ready,''' Sosa said.

One pitch later, Sosa gave the Chicago Cubs a 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday at Wrigley Field.

``It was right down the middle and he crushed it,'' said Lidge (2-4), the Astros' closer. ``In that kind of a situation you can't make a mistake, and unfortunately I did and he got it.''

Sosa's long homer to left was his 13th of the season, and the 552nd of his career. It was his third home run since coming off the disabled list 13 games ago following a back injury brought on by a hard sneeze.

``I never doubted I was going to come back and help the team the way they want me to help,'' said Sosa, 1-for-12 in the series before hitting the winning homer.

``Houston pitched me great and they didn't make that many mistakes.''

Carlos Beltran certainly capitalized on a few Chicago mistakes, homering from both sides of the plate to help the Astros rally from a 4-0 deficit.

``He's good. We don't know a whole lot about him,'' Cubs starter Mark Prior said. ``The guy can hit. After we see him more in the National League, we'll get a better idea where _ if there are any _ weak spots.''

In other NL games, it was: Los Angeles 5, San Francisco 4; Arizona 7, San Diego 5; Atlanta 9, Florida 1; New York 7, Cincinnati 6; Philadelphia 10, Montreal 5; and Milwaukee 10, Colorado 9.

At Chicago, Beltran had four homers in the three-game series and extended his hitting streak to a career-best 15 games.

``He's awesome, a good player,'' Sosa said. ``Every chance he had to come through in the clutch, he did it. He has a good future there in Houston.''

Jon Leicester (2-0) worked a hitless 10th for the win and retired Beltran on a flyball with a runner on first.

Prior pitched 7 1-3 solid innings in his longest outing of the season, leaving with two on in the eighth and a 4-1 lead.

After Craig Biggio doubled and Mike Lamb walked in the eighth, Kent Mercker came in to face Beltran, who sent the left-hander's first pitch over the fence in left to tie it at 4 and deny Prior a victory.

``I ruined it for Mark with one pitch,'' Mercker said.

Dodgers 5, Giants 4

At Los Angeles, Shawn Green homered and doubled in the go-ahead run in the eighth, and the Dodgers rallied to beat the Giants.

All three times the Giants took the lead, the Dodgers responded in the bottom of the inning against 10-game winner Jason Schmidt to tie it. Felix Rodriguez (2-4) relieved Schmidt to start the eighth and gave up a one-out walk to Milton Bradley before Green drove a 2-1 pitch into the left-center alley to give the Dodgers their first lead.

Guillermo Mota (4-4) pitched two-thirds of an inning for the victory. Eric Gagne struck out the side in the ninth for his 20th save, and major league-record 83rd in a row.

Barry Bonds, 1-for-2 with two walks, hit his 21st homer and 679th of his career. Schmidt gave up four runs on six hits in seven innings, and also hit his fourth career homer.

Diamondbacks 7, Padres 5

At Phoenix, Roberto Alomar hit his first grand slam in four years and the Diamondbacks hung on to beat the Padres.

The slam _ Alomar's first home run of the season _ came off Ismael Valdez (6-5) and erased San Diego's 3-2 lead in the fourth. The Diamondbacks, who snapped a club-record 11-game losing streak Wednesday night, split the four-game series and won two in a row for the first time since June 10 _ 18 games ago.

Braves 9, Marlins 1

At Atlanta, Andruw Jones hit a three-run double and Eli Marrero followed with a homer during a six-run first inning for the Braves.

Marrero added a run-scoring single in the seventh and Russ Ortiz (8-6) pitched into the eighth to help the Braves take three of four from the Marlins, who fell a game behind first-place Philadelphia in the NL East.

Mets 7, Reds 6

At Cincinnati, Al Leiter pitched seven shutout innings, Shane Spencer hit a three-run homer and New York held on to win.

Leiter (4-2) gave up only two hits against a lineup missing Ken Griffey Jr. and Sean Casey. The bullpen let most of a 6-0 lead slip away in the eighth, but Braden Looper got four outs for his 15th save in 17 chances. He gave up Adam Dunn's 24th homer with two outs in the ninth.

Phillies 10, Expos 5

At Philadelphia, Mike Lieberthal hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs and Pat Burrell had three hits and three RBIs for the Phillies.

Randy Wolf (3-3) pitched seven innings for his first win since April 30, and the Phillies took three of four from the Expos.

Brewers 10, Rockies 9

At Denver, Lyle Overbay hit a two-run double, Victor Santos (7-3) earned his fifth win in six starts and Milwaukee held off Colorado for its fifth straight victory.

The Brewers led 10-4 heading into the eighth inning, but the Rockies scored five runs off relievers Brooks Kieschnick and Luis Vizcaino.