CHICAGO (AP) -- Sammy Sosa's drive to 500 stopped one homer
short. He'll just have to wait until next season.
Bruce Kimm, though, won't have such a luxury. His final game
Sunday was his last as interim manager of the Chicago Cubs because
he was fired before the finale even started.
Sammy Sosa ended a 1-for-19 hitting slump on Sunday.
Keeping his emotions in check, Kimm decided to manage the Cubs
for one more game and they sent him out with a victory, 7-3 over
the Pittsburgh Pirates. "Individually it was a great year. No question about it,'' said
Sosa, who hit his 499th career homer and 49th of the season in the
first before walking and striking out twice. "I would have enjoyed it more if the team had been closer to a
pennant race and we had a much better winning percentage,'' he
added. The Cubs finished 67-95, down from 88-74 last year, and went
33-45 after Kimm replaced Don Baylor in early July. Kimm, who led the Cubs to five wins in his first six games
before the bad baseball that began under Baylor resumed, wasn't
available for comment after the game. "Hopefully, we'll win it and at least I can say I came in with
a win and went out with a win,'' he said earlier. Sosa, in a 1-for-19 slump coming in, did his part. He connected
off Josh Fogg, his first homer since Sept. 20, to make it 2-0 in
the first. Even after he struck out in his final at-bat in the seventh,
Sosa got a rousing ovation from the crowd of 37,541 at Wrigley
Field. He also finished one homer short in his bid to become the
first player to hit 50 or more five times. "To see that in my last at-bat, that's a great feeling, even
though they wanted to see me hit one more home run. I have seven
more years to play, so I will get it sooner or later.'' Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon, who led the Pirates to a 72-89
season, up from 62-100 last year, agreed. "We certainly gave Sammy a shot. He had his opportunities,''
McClendon said. "I would lay some money down that he'd get it next
year.'' Aramis Ramirez answered with a solo homer off Kerry Wood (12-11)
in the second and the Pirates loaded the bases before Pokey Reese
flied out. Fogg (12-12), who lost five of his final six decisions, loaded
the bases with a walk to Sosa in the fifth, forced in a run with a
walk to Hee Seop Choi and gave up a two-run double to Angel
Echevarria that made it 5-1. Echevarria also hit a two-run single
in the seventh. Fogg wasn't fazed by giving up a homer to Sosa. "He's hit 499 of them and I'm not the only guy that's given one
up. I was trying to go at him,'' Fogg, who had a strong rookie
season for the most part. "I'm out trying to win a game. If he hits two and we win, it's
not a big deal. He got one and we ended up losing. It kinda stinks
for me both ways.'' Tony Alvarez hit his first major league homer in the eighth. Wood allowed four hits in six innings with nine strikeouts. Fogg
gave up five runs and five hits in five innings.
Pirates bench coach Bill Virdon won't return to that
post next season. He will be a spring training instructor but wants
to spend more time with his family. ... Brian Giles got one at-bat
and then left the game in the first with a tight hamstring. He
finished the season at .298 after grounding into a double play. He
had 38 homers and 103 RBI following his, two-homer six-RBI game
Friday and his pinch-hit two-run homer Saturday. ... Fogg set a
Pirates rookie record for most starts in a season since 1900 with
his 33rd. Don Robinson and Steve Cooke also started 32 as rookies.
Sam Leever started 39 games as a rookie in 1899 ... Sosa's homer
was the Cubs' 200th this season. The also reached 200 was in 1987
(209) and 1998 (212). ... The Wrigley Field grounds crew led the
singing during the seventh-inning stretch. ... The Cubs drew
2,693,096 fans for 78 home dates, an average of 34,527. ... The
Cubs led the majors in strikeouts both as a staff (1,333) and at
the plate (1,269). That's the first time a team has led the majors
in both categories in the same season since 1884 when the Boston
club of the Union Association did it. ... Sosa has hit 45 of his
499 homers in games Wood has started.