Prior throws another West Coast gem

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Only one player could have overshadowed Mark
Prior on Sunday, and that was Sammy Sosa.

Sosa hit two mammoth homers off Kevin Brown, driving in all of
the Chicago Cubs' runs in a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles

But Sosa left it to the sellout crowd to stand and admire his
majestic drives. He just did his usual jump-step out of the
batter's box and circled the bases.

"When I make contact, I never look where the ball is going to
land. That's just not me. I just do what I need to do," Sosa said.
"I got two good swings and I made very good contact, definitely.
It was another great day. Mr. Brown pitched a great game, and those
were the only two mistakes he made."

Prior (10-5) outpitched the Dodgers ace with a five-hitter,
ending Los Angeles' six-game winning streak.

"It was a great day for Sammy and a great day for us," Cubs
manager Dusty Baker said after his 900th career victory. "Boy,
it's strange. We lose to (Andy) Ashby and lose to (Wilson) Alvarez
-- and then we beat Kevin Brown. This game takes some strange twists
at times, but we needed that one to avoid a sweep."

The Cubs got to Brown (11-6) right away with a leadoff single by
Kenny Lofton in the first inning and a one-out homer by Sosa. He
drove a 1-2 pitch 465 feet, three-quarters of the way up the
right-field pavilion and into the last section of seats next to the
center-field flag poles.

"That first home run was probably the longest home run I've
ever seen here," said Baker, who played eight seasons with the
Dodgers and managed another 68 games against them with San
Francisco. "I've heard there have been some that were longer, but
I didn't see them."

Brown, a six-time All-Star, retired his next eight batters
before Sosa connected again in the fourth. The 448-foot drive to
right-center was his 28th homer this season and the 527th of his
career. He has 498 home runs in a Cubs uniform, 14 shy of Hall of
Famer Ernie Banks' club record.

"No doubt about it, I made two bad pitches to Sammy and he took
advantage of it," Brown said. "That's what happens when you're
facing a good hitter that's hot."

Sosa, suspended for seven games in June for using a corked bat,
ended a streak of 80 1-3 consecutive innings in which Brown had not
allowed a home run. It was the 61st multihomer game of Sosa's
career, his third this season, and first since July 11 against

Sosa is hitting .313 with 22 homers and 49 RBI in 47 games
since returning from his suspension.

"Sammy's closing in on the home run leaders -- and he's missed
about 25 ballgames. That's pretty awesome," Baker said. "He's
driving in big runs and he's close to 80 ribbies now, which is
great, considering how much time he missed.

"He's focused every day, and I think he's going to have a great
second half. Those games he missed are going to keep him strong all
the way through the stretch."

Sosa, who spent two weeks on the disabled list in May after
having a nail surgically removed from his big toe, was the first
player to go deep against Brown since Colorado's Jose Hernandez on
May 20 at Dodger Stadium. Sosa also singled in the sixth, and is
11-for-35 lifetime against Brown with four homers and eight RBI.

Brown, who allowed just five homers in his previous 144 innings
this year, allowed three runs and five hits over seven innings. He
struck out seven as his ERA increased from 2.13 to 2.21.

Prior struck out nine and walked one en route to his second
complete game of the season and third in 40 career starts. The
former University of Southern California right-hander, facing the
Dodgers for the first time, is 3-3 in his last eight starts -- with
all three wins coming on the road.

Cesar Izturis bunted for a hit leading off the Dodgers third,
advanced on Brown's sacrifice and scored a single by Dave Roberts
that trimmed Chicago's lead to 2-1.

Prior threw 116 pitches in a game that lasted just 2 hours, 14
minutes. He lowered his ERA to 2.76 in 21 starts.

"If I have an ERA under 3.00, so be it. It really doesn't
matter," Prior said. "I mean, whatever we do to get into the
playoffs is the only thing I really care about."

Game notes
The last time a Cubs full-time starter finished a season
with an ERA under 3.00 was 1992, when Greg Maddux finished at 2.18
in 35 starts and Mike Morgan finished at 2.55 in 34 starts. ...
Cubs 1B Eric Karros was hitless in four at-bats and was 0-for-10
with three strikeouts in his first series against the Dodgers since
getting traded to the Cubs in December. Karros hit 270 home runs
for the Dodgers, more than any player since the team moved to Los
Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958.