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Sosa strikes out five times, but wins it in 16th

5/31/2003

CHICAGO (AP) -- Sammy Sosa struck out five times before he broke
up the longest scoreless game ever at Wrigley Field.

Sosa hit a hard RBI single off Jeff Kent's glove in the 16th
inning Saturday as the Chicago Cubs beat the Houston Astros 1-0 on
a blustery and cold day.

"I just said to myself, 'You got to go up there and keep
fighting.' It was a great game, especially for a guy like me who
has five strikeouts and in my last at-bat to get the game-winning
RBI," Sosa said.

Not since 1916 when the first NL game was played at the park
that was later named Wrigley had a game gone scoreless past the
15th, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Two other scoreless games were decided in the 15th at Wrigley,
according to Elias. On June 19, 1955, the Phillies beat the Cubs
1-0. On July 21, 1980, the Giants beat the Cubs 2-0.

"This was as well a pitched game as I've ever seen," Cubs
manager Dusty Baker said after his team went to 6-0 in extra-inning
games.

"As the game went farther along, we really had to
concentrate," said Chicago's Corey Patterson. "Guys were getting
tired and guys were getting hungry."

Pitchers ruled a 48-degree day, with the Cubs setting a team
record by striking out 23 times.

With the wind blowing in from the northeast at 24 mph, several
hard-hit balls to the outfield were knocked down.

Sosa had been 0-for-6 and was getting booed before his one-out
single won it.

"Sometimes people see you go through a tough time, they think
you're finished, but you're not," Sosa said.

"Every good player goes through a little tough time and you got
to survive."

Alex Gonzalez walked with one out in the 16th off Ricky Stone
(4-1) and made it to third when Patterson singled and right fielder
Brian Hunter bobbled the ball.

With center fielder Craig Biggio brought in as a fifth
infielder, Sosa hit a sharp single off Kent's glove at second base.
Sosa pumped his fist after his first hit since coming off the
disabled list Friday.

"It was a tough day offensively. The wind was the reason we
didn't score any runs," said Kent, who hit three long drives into
the outfield that were caught because they were held up by the
gusts.

After Sosa went to the warning track to grab his drive in the
11th, a frustrated Kent rolled in the dirt at first.

"You knew it was going to be a pitcher's duel and it wound up
being that," Kent said.

"It's May 31 and I woke up this morning and saw trees on the
streets getting blown over and the guy on the Weather Channel says
it's not going to get over 50," Houston's Geoff Blum said.

"That was just the beginning of the day."

Sosa has struck out eight times in 11 at-bats since returning
from the disabled list Friday. When he grounded out in the 14th,
the crowd erupted in a loud cheer. The fans made even more noise
when Sosa got the winning hit.

Todd Wellemeyer (1-0) got his first major league win with two
innings of relief.

Houston loaded the bases in the top of the 14th before Brad
Ausmus flied out against Kyle Farnsworth.

The Astros also threatened in the eighth and ninth but were
turned away by two great defensive plays from the Cubs.

Houston loaded the bases in the eighth before Chicago first
baseman Hee Seop Choi snagged Blum's hard liner to end the inning.

In the ninth, Lance Berkman walked and advanced to second on an
infield grounder. Pinch-hitter Morgan Ensberg then singled to left,
but Moises Alou made a perfect throw to catcher Damian Miller, who
easily tagged Berkman out when he didn't slide.

The tough conditions set up an early duel between Carlos
Zambrano and Houston's Roy Oswalt, who was activated from the
disabled list before the game and was making his first starting
since hurting his groin running the bases May 15 in Pittsburgh.

Zambrano allow just three hits in eight innings, including just
one in the first seven.

Oswalt also pitched brilliantly, allowing just five hits with no
walks and eight strikeouts in seven innings.

Game notes
The 23 strikeouts were a club record for Houston's pitching
staff, breaking the previous mark of 21 set in a 16-inning game
against Florida in 1999. ... The teams combined to strike out 37
times. The major league record for combined strikeouts in an
extra-inning game is 43 set in 1971 by California (26) and Oakland
(17) during a 20-inning game. The NL record is 40 in a 15-inning
game between San Francisco (20) and San Diego (20) in 2001. ...
Both teams ran out of position players and Houston's Wade Miller,
who pitched a two-hitter Friday, was used as a pinch-hitter in the
15th. ... Jeff Bagwell, who'd missed just one of the Astros' first
55 games, was given the day off Saturday to rest but lined into a
double play in the 10th as a pinch-hitter. Bagwell hasn't homered
since May 5.