09/15/2004 5:56 PM ET
Sosa powers sweep of Pirates
Slugger hammers solo shot and grand slam
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
|Sammy Sosa celebrates after hitting a solo home run against Oliver Perez in the first. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)
CHICAGO -- Derrek Lee was unaware he had made history with one swing on Wednesday.
Lee became the fourth member of Chicago's 30-homer club Wednesday and Sammy Sosa drove in five runs on a pair of home runs, including a grand slam, to lead the Cubs to a 13-5 romp over the Pittsburgh Pirates and sweep the series.
Lee belted a two-run homer, his 30th of the season, in the first as the Cubs established a new hitting high. Chicago now has four 30-home run hitters for the first time in team history.
"That's cool," Lee said. "That's rare -- I've never seen it, four guys with 30. That's pretty cool."
His manager has. The Cubs are the 10th Major League team in history to have four 30-home run hitters. The first was the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers, and Cubs skipper Dusty Baker was in that group. Besides Lee and Sosa, Moises Alou has 35 home runs and Aramis Ramirez 30 on the Cubs' club.
"I think home runs kind of come in streaks and guys are in streaks right now," Lee said. "Home runs come in bunches."
Sosa is in one of those streaks. He belted a solo shot in the first, one of three consecutive homers in the four-run inning, and added his eighth career grand slam in the eighth. It was his 66th career multi-homer game. Babe Ruth is the all-time leader with 72.
"Sammy's one of the best streak hitters around, especially when he gets hot," Baker said. "I'd say he's not fouling balls off that he was fouling off before that put him in a two-strike situation. He's laying off high fastballs and low breaking balls, and if you're going to be a good hitter, you have to hit high breaking balls and low fastballs. When you're not going well, you're swinging at the opposite."
"When he's going well, it's going to protect everybody in front of him and behind him and make us stronger as a lineup throughout," Cubs pitcher Mark Prior said of Sosa.
Sosa followed Lee's shot with his 31st home run, and Michael Barrett hit his 15th to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead. It's the first time the Cubs have gone back-to-back-to-back since June 24, 2003, when Kerry Wood, Mark Grudzielanek and Alex Gonzalez did so.
Sosa now has hit 291 home runs at Wrigley Field to pass Ernie Banks (290) for the most ever at the Friendly Confines. The slugger also raised his career total to 571 as he set his sights on Harmon Killebrew (573) on the all-time list.
Sosa opted not to address the media after the game, saying, "I'm not talking today."
With the sweep, the Cubs kept pace with San Francisco in the National League Wild Card race. Chicago started the day a half-game behind San Francisco. The Giants play at Milwaukee on Wednesday night.
"That's a good team over there," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "They're in the Wild Card race. They're no slouches."
The Pirates weren't fazed by the first-inning barrage. Instead of giving up, Pittsburgh came right back and tied the game at 4 in the second against Chicago starter Mark Prior. The Pirates rallied as Ty Wigginton hit an RBI double, Jose Castillo hit an RBI single, Jason Kendall was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run, and Jack Wilson hit a sacrifice fly.
The Pirates took a 5-4 lead in the second when Tike Redman singled with two outs, reached third on Wigginton's single and scored on Castillo's infield single.
With two out in the Chicago sixth, Corey Patterson doubled and Neifi Perez followed with his third home run, his second since joining the Cubs. Wednesday was the second time in the last three starts that Pittsburgh's Oliver Perez (10-9) has served up four home runs. The left-hander gave up six runs on 10 hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings.
"I threw high fastballs and they took advantage of it," Oliver Perez said. "It's Chicago. The ball goes high and [hitters] get a homer. It's part of the game."
Neifi Perez, who is subbing for injured Nomar Garciaparra, has been taking early hitting with Sosa the last few days. Perhaps Sosa's power is starting to rub off on him?
"I've just been lucky," Perez said. "I made good contact and the wind helped me out a couple times. It's just luck. He got me with a fastball inside, and I was looking for a fastball inside again."
Grudzielanek and Jose Macias hit back-to-back doubles in the seventh to make it 7-5. After Sosa's second blast in the eighth, Macias added a two-run single.
Prior did not get a decision, giving up five runs on nine hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out five.
"I just didn't have a breaking ball today. It was pretty much non-existent," Prior said. "I wasn't able to get it down, I didn't have any bite on it."
Last year, Prior was 10-1 with a 1.52 ERA after the All-Star break. This season, he missed the first two months because of injuries and has had to deal with high expectations.
"People are going to have their expectations based on what I did last year," Prior said. "Things haven't aligned the way I'd like this year. For whatever reason, mechanically, I haven't been as solid as I would like to be. The important thing today was that I was able to come back after a rough second inning."
Michael Wuertz (1-0) picked up the win, his first Major League victory, pitching one inning of one-hit relief. Ryan Dempster posted his first save.
"It was a day of a lot of firsts," Baker said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.