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Sosa homers, ends 6-for-34 slump

9/11/2002

CHICAGO (AP) -- For the last 10 days, Sammy Sosa has been
tweaking his swing here and there, trying to find his old groove
again.

Looks like he's got it.

Sosa ended his offensive slump with his 495th career home run
Wednesday, going 3-for-4 as the Chicago Cubs beat the Montreal
Expos 6-3.

"Today was a great day,'' Sosa said. "Hopefully I started to
find myself again and do those things I usually do.''

Mark Bellhorn led off the game with a homer and Kevin Orie drove
in a pair of runs for the Cubs, who won for only the second time in
six games.

Jose Vidro had two RBI for the Expos, but it wasn't enough to
keep Masato Yoshii (4-9) from losing his fourth straight start
since Aug. 21. Yoshii allowed six runs -- four earned -- and six hits
in five innings.

"He was all right, but anytime the defense behind him gives up
three runs, that hurts,'' Expos manager Frank Robinson said.

Alan Benes (2-1) strengthened his case for being part of the
Cubs' rotation next year. Rebounding from a bad start over the
weekend, when he lasted just 2 2-3 innings, he scattered three runs
and seven hits over seven innings. He struck out five while walking
none.

Antonio Alfonseca pitched the ninth for his 18th save in 24
chances.

"I would love to be here and I would love to have the
opportunity to come in and compete for a job in spring training,''
said Benes, who missed most of the last four years recovering from
shoulder surgery. "This gives me a chance to go out and show them
what I can do.''

The one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was
marked with a 20-minute pregame ceremony featuring bagpipes and
local schoolchildren reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Many fans
wore patriotic clothing, and large U.S. flags hung from the
rooftops across the street.

There was a moment of silence during the seventh-inning stretch,
and the game had a more somber feel than normal. Only 20,503 showed
up, a sparse crowd even for an Expos-Cubs game in September.

"It was special today,'' Sosa said. "I was thinking to myself
that we're here today, showing our respects. It could have been any
one of us. You just take a minute and think about it.''

But once the game began, Sosa was in a zone.

He'd been in a 6-for-34 slump since missing nine games with a
strained back. He'd homered only once, and that was back on Sept.
2.

But he was the Sosa of old Wednesday, singling in his first two
at-bats and homering in the fifth inning. He needs one RBI to
become the third NL player with eight consecutive 100-RBI seasons.

"I've been jumping at the plate, which is something I don't do
too often,'' he said. "I was trying to find myself and today I
found myself more relaxed.''

So were the rest of the Cubs, tagging Yoshii and the Expos for
four runs in the first inning. Bellhorn started it off with a homer
to right-center on the first pitch. After Sosa singled and Hee Seop
Choi drew a walk, Roosevelt Brown singled to load the bases with
only one out.

Chris Stynes then hit a grounder to shortstop that should have
been an easy double play, but Orlando Cabrera bobbled the pickup
and the throw, allowing two runs to score. Orie followed with a
sacrifice fly, and the Cubs had a 4-0 lead.

The Expos scored three runs with two outs in the sixth. Endy
Chavez and Jamey Carroll singled, and Vidro followed with a two-run
double past a diving Bellhorn. Guerrero singled, cutting Chicago's
lead to 6-3.

"Anytime you get down that far, it is really tough to come back
from any ballclub,'' Robinson said. "Especially when we help them
score runs, it makes it even more difficult.''

Game notes
Expos 3B Jamey Carroll, promoted to the major leagues for
the first time Tuesday, got his first hit. He went 2-for-3. ...
Bellhorn's other leadoff homer came on July 26 off Chuck Finley of
St. Louis. ... Choi struck out three times.