Cardinals 7, Cubs 6

Saturday, September 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Sammy Sosa reached 50 home runs for the third straight year Saturday, but the day belonged to Fernando Tatis.

``Today, I'm the man,'' Tatis said after homering twice and driving in five runs in the St. Louis Cardinals' 7-6 win over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

Tatis did express admiration for Sosa, who joined St. Louis' Mark McGwire as the only players with 50 homers in three consecutive seasons.

``It's great for him, it's amazing that he could do that, it's unbelievable,'' Tatis said.

McGwire's string of four straight 50-homer seasons will likely end this season as Big Mac has been limited to 32 homers because of a lingering knee injury.

Babe Ruth is the only other player with at least three seasons of 50 or more homers, doing it four times.

``I feel great to be in the same group with Babe Ruth and Mark, but the other side of this is that we lost the game,'' Sosa said. ``I feel great for the individual accomplishment but I would have enjoyed it more if we had won the game.''

Tatis missed 54 games with a groin injury earlier this year but has started to peak down the stretch.

``We need him now and he's fearless with men on base,'' said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

The win cut the Cardinals magic number for clinching the NL Central title to three. Cincinnati beat Milwaukee to remain 11 games behind the Cardinals.

The Cardinals have won 24 of their last 31 and 13 of their last 16 while the Cubs have lost four straight and 14 of 16.

Cubs manager Don Baylor said the Cubs allow too many home runs to win. They have given up 221 this year, tying the record they set last year.

``We give them up at an alarming rate,'' he said. ``We leave too many pitches out over the plate and today we left two out to the wrong guy.''

Tatis hit a solo homer in the second and fifth career grand slam in the third as the Cardinals jumped out to a 6-2 lead. Tatis has 18 homers on the season and seven career multihomer games.

Sosa hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning off reliever Gene Stechschulte to tie the score.

The Cardinals took a 7-6 lead in their sixth when Placido Polanco singled off Jerry Spradlin (0-1) and scored on a pinch-hit double by J.D. Drew.

Mike Timlin (3-1) pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Dave Veres got two outs for his 27th save in 33 chances.

Cardinals starter Garrett Stephenson only lasted five innings and allowed four runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and two walks.

Cubs starter Daniel Garibay gave up six runs, six hits and three walks in three innings.

The Cardinals were leading 2-1 in the third when Polanco and Craig Paquette singled and Eric Davis walked. Tatis hit a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall to give the Cardinals a 6-2 lead.

The Cubs cut the lead to 6-4 in the fourth on Shane Andrews' three-run homer.

Notes: Sosa snapped an 0-for-22 streak at Busch Stadium with a fifth-inning single. ... Grace needs two RBIs for 1,000. ... Eric Young, who has 26 straight steals, is day-to-day with tightness in his right quadriceps. ... Shawon Dunston left the game after the second inning with a strained left groin muscle. ... Polanco, who had three hits and a walk, has hit safely in 15 of his last 20 starts.