Series: Game 2 of 3

Cincinnati leads 2-0 (as of 9/25)

Game 1: Tuesday, September 24
Cincinnati 1Final
Chicago 0
Game 2: Wednesday, September 25
Cincinnati 8Final
Chicago 2
Game 3: Thursday, September 26
Cincinnati 1Final
Chicago 0

Reds 8

(77-81, 39-38 away)

Cubs 2

(65-93, 34-43 home)

    8:05 PM ET, September 25, 2002

    Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois 

    123456789 R H E
    CIN 016100000 8 - -
    CHC 000020000 2 - -

    W: R. Dempster (10-13)

    L: M. Clement (12-11)

    Reds' Dempster tosses eighth complete game

    CHICAGO (AP) -- The Cincinnati Reds stole Sammy Sosa's home run show.

    Sammy Sosa

    While Sammy Sosa remained stuck on 498 career homers, the Reds went deep four times Wednesday night on their way to an 8-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

    "If it happens, great. If it doesn't, I'll wait for next year, said Sosa, who hasn't homered since Friday and has five in his last 22 games.

    Trying to become the 18th major leaguer with 500 homers, he went 0-for-4 and got a ball out of the infield only once, a flyout to right in the ninth.

    Sosa also needs two homers in the Cubs' final four games to become the first player in major league history with five 50-homer seasons.

    "It doesn't matter to me,'' Sosa said of the records. "My career is not going to end if I don't hit it.''

    Ryan Dempster (10-13) scattered six hits in his eighth complete game.

    It was only the second complete game for the Reds this season, and it kept them from tying the major league record for fewest complete games (one) in a year.

    "He's been much more consistent the last several outings,'' Reds manager Bob Boone said. "He's probably our strongest guy. He's become more of a pitcher than having that mentality of trying to throw harder and harder every throw.''

    Matt Clement (12-11) was rocked for a season-high seven runs in three innings, his shortest outing of the year. Russell Branyan, Juan Castro, Kelly Stinnett and Todd Walker all homered off him.

    "I didn't pitch particularly well,'' Clement said. "One of my goals coming into the season was to eliminate games like that. I managed to stay away from them the whole way until tonight.

    "It wasn't the way I wanted to finish up.''

    The crowd of 29,658 came to Wrigley Field hoping to see Sosa, not the Reds, go deep. Fans stood and applauded loudly each time Sosa came to bat, and flashbulbs popped all over the park every time he took a swing.

    He got a standing ovation when he came to bat in the sixth with runners at first and second, and the cheers grew as he worked Dempster to a 3-2 count. But the at-bat ended in another groundout, and the fans settled back into their seats with a disappointed sigh.

    "The last two at-bats, I got some good pitches. I got good swings on them and just missed it,'' Sosa said. "He pitched me tough. He had a very good plan.''

    That plan was to stay away from the middle of the plate.

    "I pretty much threw him sinkers, keeping it on the inner part of the plate,'' Dempster said. "I threw him some good ones, but not many in the middle part of the plate.

    "He can pretty much hit any pitch, so fortunately, I was able to tie him up.''

    And Sosa wasn't the only Cubs player Dempster kept in check. He held Chicago hitless until Corey Patterson doubled into the corner in deep left with two outs in the fifth.

    Alex Gonzalez then spoiled Dempster's bid for a shutout with a two-run homer to left-center. It was Gonzalez's 18th homer this season, a career high.

    "I've been more aggressive, throwing through the catcher, not just to him,'' Dempster said. "My sinker had late life on it and lots of sink. I'm excited to take this into next year.''

    While Dempster was shutting down the Cubs, the Reds were beating up on Clement. Stinnett started the homer barrage with a solo shot in the second inning. It was only his third home run of the year.

    The Reds hit three more in the third, tying their season high for most homers in a single inning. Walker led off with a homer, and Branyan hit a three-run shot before the Cubs could even get an out.

    And the Reds weren't done yet. Two outs later, Castro hit a two-run homer that gave Cincinnati a 7-0 lead. "There's no excuses. I messed up,'' Clement said. "I had a bad outing and these things are going to happen. I forgot what it's like to do that. It really stinks to be sitting in there, watching the last six innings.''

    Game notes

    Reds SS Barry Larkin will have surgery Monday to remove bone spurs from his right big toe. He'll be available to pinch-hit in the Reds' remaining games. ... With his double, Patterson is now 20-for-105 (.190) in his last 30 games. ... Clement finishes the season one win shy of matching his career high. He won 13 games in 2000, when he was with San Diego. ... The Reds' four homers was one shy of their single-game high for the season. They hit five Aug. 4 at San Diego.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press