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Sosa stuck at 498 homers for another day

9/26/2002

CHICAGO (AP) -- Chicago Cubs fans are hoping Sammy Sosa reaches
500 home runs before the season ends. His friends and family want
him to do it, too.

And there's no question Sosa would like to head home for the
winter with this milestone behind him.

But as Cubs fans know very well, things don't always go
according to plan. Danny Graves became the latest pitcher to
contain Sosa, scattering four hits over six innings Thursday to
lead the Cincinnati Reds to a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

Sosa, who remains stuck on 498 career homers, went 1-for-4 with
a strikeout and two groundouts. He also needs two homers to become
the first player to reach 50 in five seasons.

''It's going to happen anyway,'' he said. ''If it doesn't happen
this year, so what?''

Sosa has gone 22 plate appearances since his last homer, and has
just five in 23 games.

He got his first hit of the series -- a ball that barely made it
out of the infield, glancing off Graves' glove.

''Sometimes, when you have a lot of people behind you, it's
something that isn't easy,'' Sosa said. ''If I don't do it this
year, I have a lot of years left in my body.''

The Cubs have three games left, and interim manager Bruce Kimm
said he's considered moving Sosa up in the lineup to get him more
at-bats.

But Sosa doesn't want any part of that.

''I don't think that's necessary,'' he said. ''I just want it to
be the way it is. If it doesn't happen, next year it'll happen.''

Sosa insists he's not pressing, but Graves said he left two
pitches up. Sosa swung through one and popped up the other one.

''I think he's trying too hard,'' Graves said.

Graves (7-3) might want to give himself more credit, though.
Making only his fourth career start after 363 relief appearances,
he struck out a career-high seven while walking only two.

He got in trouble only once, loading the bases with a walk to
Alex Gonzalez in the fourth inning. But he struck out Mike Mahoney
to get out of the jam.

It was Graves' first victory as a starter.

''When we decided to change this role and tried to do the
starting thing, I wasn't looking to get any wins at all,'' he said.
''I was just trying to build up a pitch count and try to learn how
to pitch in that role.

''I'm totally convinced I can do this,'' Graves added. ''You are
going to have your bad starts, but hopefully you just overcome that
and every fifth game you get, just make the best with it.''

Jose Guillen backed Graves with a run-scoring single, making up for a
baserunning blunder in the second inning. Joey Hamilton allowed one
hit in two relief innings, and Scott Williamson pitched the ninth
for his eighth save in 12 chances.

The Cubs wasted another decent pitching performance, this one by
Carlos Zambrano (4-8). Zambrano allowed only one run and four hits
in seven innings, walking five and striking out three.

But the Cubs struck out 10 times and had only three runners in
scoring position.

''Today was probably the most nervous I've been, for whatever
reason,'' Graves said. ''You don't want to end your season on a bad
outing.''

The Reds had a chance to score in the second when Guillen walked
and advanced to third on Russell Branyan's single. But Guillen left
third too early on what could have been a sacrifice fly by Gookie
Dawkins.

Guillen made up for his mistake in his next at-bat, though,
driving in Aaron Boone on a single to right.

Game notes
Graves improved to 7-1 against the Cubs and 3-0 this year.
... Cubs radio broadcaster Ron Santo missed the game with food
poisoning. He was replaced in the booth by Hall of Famer Billy
Williams. ... Pearl Jam lead singer and Cubs fan Eddie Vedder was
at the game. ... Adam Dunn, who already holds the club record for
strikeouts in a season, added two more. He has 167.