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Cubs rookie Hill knocks in winning run in ninth

9/28/2002

CHICAGO (AP) -- Rookie Bobby Hill got his first taste this year
of what it's like to play for the Chicago Cubs during another of
their dreadful 90-plus loss seasons.

"I think as a team it's been a long year for everybody,
including the young guys,'' Hill said Saturday after his RBI single
in the ninth rallied the Cubs past the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4.

"Things haven't gone our way and we haven't gotten the clutch
hits when we needed them all year,'' Hill said. "And to have
something like that happen today is a good sign.''

The only good sign Sammy Sosa had in his struggle to reach 500
homers was a fly ball to the front of the warning track.

Sosa is still stuck on 48 homers this year and 498 in his
career, going 0-for-3 with a walk. He is 1-for-19 in Chicago's
closing homestand.

Bidding to become the 18th player to hit 500 homers and the
first to have five 50-homer seasons, Sosa hasn't homered in 31
plate appearances since Sept. 20. He's got one game left.

"I'm a man. I never give up,'' Sosa said. "I'm going to come
back tomorrow with the same approach and go out and fight for my
at-bats. That's all.

"I will get it done sooner or later. So I don't want it to be
like, `Well I have to do it or my career will be finished.' No
way.''

With Chicago trailing 4-3, Angel Echevarria led off the bottom
of the ninth with a pinch-single off Ron Villone, moved to second
on a bunt and scored when Todd Hundley hit a hard single to center
that went off Pokey Reese's glove at second.

After Chad Hermanson walked, Hill singled to center off Brian
Boehringer (4-4), scoring pinch-runner Pat Mahomes.

Juan Cruz (3-11) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.

Pittsburgh took a 4-3 lead in the eighth when Brian Giles, who
thought he would be off following Friday's two-homer, six-RBI game,
pinch hit and connected off Antonio Alfonseca for his 38th homer, a
two-run drive.

"I've hit well against this team this year,'' said Giles, who
is 27-for-52 (.519) with seven homers and 17 RBIs against the Cubs
this season. "It's a game that we felt we should have won, but it
got away.''

Giles, batting .298, could play Sunday rather than sit, even
though he reached 100 RBI on Friday. And why not, after the way
he's hit Cubs' pitching?

"I'm going to talk to him to see how he feels about it,''
Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I'm leaning toward starting
him.''

Hee Seop Choi hit a two-run homer in the sixth as the Cubs --
held hitless by Kip Wells for 5 1/3 innings -- scored three times to
take the lead.

Hill singled with one out in the sixth for the first hit off
Wells, stole second and scored on Mark Bellhorn's single.

Sosa then sent a high fly to the front of the warning track in
right before Choi drove a pitch into the bleachers in left-center
for his second career homer and a 3-2 Chicago lead.

Wells, who didn't win a game after Aug. 24, gave up three runs
and three hits in six innings.

Chicago starter Alan Benes allowed two runs and five hits in six
innings with eight strikeouts.

Sosa took a called third strike in the first and then hit a hard
grounder that went under shortstop Abraham Nunez's glove for an
error in the fourth -- the Cubs' first runner against Wells. He
walked off reliever Al Reyes in the eighth.

Craig Wilson homered in the fourth to give the Pirates a 2-0
lead. Pittsburgh scored an inning earlier when Mike Benjamin
singled and came across on Tony Alvarez's double into the
left-field corner.

Game notes
Cubs GM Jim Hendry said again that he'll decide the future
of interim manager Bruce Kimm within a couple of days. That means
Sunday could be Kimm's final day with the team. "It's going to be
emotional,'' Kimm said. "At first I didn't think it would be.''...
It was Giles' first pinch-homer this season and the third of his
career. ... Alfonseca has blown nine of 28 save chances this year,
including three straight after converting six in a row.