PITTSBURGH (AP) -- It was business as usual for the Chicago Cubs
on Friday night -- another Sammy Sosa home run and another loss.
Sammy Sosa has struggled on the Cubs' recent road trip, but came through with a homer to lead off the sixth inning.
Sosa hit his 498th career homer but the Pittsburgh Pirates
rallied for two runs in the ninth inning to beat the Cubs 5-4. "I would enjoy this more if we were fighting in a pennant
race,'' Sosa said. "You just have to go out and try to finish
strong and get ready for next year. It was a great game but what
can you do?'' Sosa was hitless in 10 at-bats when he connected for his 48th
homer of the season on a 0-2 pitch from Salomon Torres leading off
the sixth inning. Sosa was 1-for-3 and is 7-for-31 (.226) on the
road trip. "I haven't seen (Torres) in a long time,'' Sosa said. "He's
got good stuff and he was pitching great.'' Sosa jumped on an outside pitch and drove it into the
center-field stands. "It was a nasty pitch,'' Sosa said. Antonio Alfonseca (2-5), who has converted just 19 of 27 save
chances, couldn't protect a 4-3 lead. Kevin Young led off with a
single and scored the tying run on Armando Rios' second double of
the game. Tony Alvarez sacrificed pinch-runner Mike Benjamin to third and
Jack Wilson singled to center to end the game. "Kevin, Armando and Alvarez set the table for me,'' Wilson
said. "I just got there in time to eat.'' The Cubs lost in the 12th inning to the Mets on Thursday. "It gets magnified a little more when it happens two nights in
a row,'' Cubs manager Bruce Kimm said. "It's tough to lose these
kinds of games.'' Scott Sauerbeck (4-3) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win. Pittsburgh led 3-2 in the eighth when Brian Boehringer walked
Hee Seop Choi with one out. After Angel Echevarria struck out, Choi
advanced on Jason Kendall's passed ball and went to third on Kevin
Orie's double. Alex Gonzalez's single drove in the tying run and Orie was
nearly trapped off third when he took too big a turn around the
base. He was able to get back safely on second baseman Pokey
Reese's throwing error, which also allowed Gonzalez to go to
second. Pinch-hitter Chris Stynes lined a single to right that scored
Orie before Gonzalez was thrown out at the plate. After Sosa's homer started a two-run sixth that gave the Cubs a
2-2 tie, Pittsburgh's Aramis Ramirez ended an 0-for-24 skid with
his 16th homer off starter Carlos Zambrano in the bottom half. The Cubs trailed 2-0 when Sosa hit his home run into the
center-field seats. Choi singled and went to third on Echevarria's
double. Mike Lincoln relieved and walked Orie to load the bases.
The tying run scored when Gonzalez grounded into a double play. Orie made two errors on the same play, helping the Pirates to a
pair of unearned runs in the first. Abraham Nunez walked, Brian
Giles doubled and Ramirez walked to load the bases.
Orie failed to handle Kevin Young's possible double play ball
for one error, then made a wide throw that Choi couldn't handle,
which allowed Giles to score the second run.
Cubs 2B Bobby Hill left the game in the first inning after
he was flipped over by Abraham Nunez's slide. The Cubs reported
Hill had a strained neck and a headache after he landed on the back
of his head. X-rays were negative. ... Orie led off the fourth with
a single but was thrown out at second by Giles when he tried to
stretch the hit into a double. ... The Pirates have won seven of 10
home games ... Sosa has 30 home runs against the Pirates and four
at PNC Park. ... Boehringer had been scored upon in just one of his
previous 15 appearances.