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Atlanta had won eight straight

7/12/2003

CHICAGO (AP) -- Sammy Sosa homered to start a six-run fourth and Matt Clement pitched eight strong innings as the Chicago Cubs ended Atlanta's eight-game winning streak, beating the Braves 7-3 Saturday.

With one game left before the All-Star break, Sosa is on his biggest tear of the season. Since returning June 18 from a seven-game suspension for using a corked bat, Sosa has a .344 average, 12 homers and 23 RBI.

His high drive just dropped into the left-field basket at Wrigley Field, giving him 18 homers this season and seven hits in his last seven at-bats. He finished 2-for-4 after going 4-for-4 Friday with two homers.

Sosa has 517 homers, four shy of Willie McCovey and Ted Williams for 12th on the career list.

Clement (7-7) allowed three runs -- two earned -- and five hits, including Rafael Furcal's 13th homer in the third, as the Cubs avoided dropping below .500 for the first time all season. He walked none and struck out seven.

Joe Borowski worked a scoreless ninth to finish it.

Atlanta rookie Horacio Ramirez, who had won seven straight decisions since April 11, lasted just 3 2/3 innings -- the shortest outing of his career.

Alex Gonzalez had an RBI single, Jose Hernandez doubled in two runs and Mark Grudzielanek added a run-scoring double to chase Ramirez (8-3) in the fourth before reliever Kevin Gryboski gave up a run-scoring triple to Ramon Martinez.

Sosa hit an RBI single in the first on a soft line drive that diving second baseman Mark De Rosa missed.

Atlanta added a pair of runs in the eighth on an RBI grounder by Julio Franco and an RBI single by Furcal.

Game notes
Braves 2B Marcus Giles, who sustained a mild concussion in Friday's collision with Chicago pitcher Mark Prior, was out of the lineup and his status for Tuesday's All-Star Game across town at U.S. Cellular Field is in doubt. Giles said he would know more Sunday. Prior, also an NL All-Star, has a bruised right shoulder and might not be available to pitch Tuesday. He will be re-evaluated Sunday. ... Hernandez started in CF for the Cubs, his first appearance in the outfield since July 7, 2001. ... Ramirez's shortest outing had been five innings. In his previous start, Monday, he pitched Atlanta's only complete game of the season, beating the Mets. ... Atlanta's Vinny Castilla was 2-for-3 and is 8-for-11 in the first three games of the series.