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40-40 club party: Soriano joins elite in Nationals' win

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Waiting in Alfonso Soriano's locker after
Saturday night's game was the final piece of what is surely going
to be an impressive display: the stolen base that entered him into
the elite 40-40 club.


Soriano became the fourth player in major league history to
record 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a single season when he
swiped second in the first inning of the Washington Nationals' 8-5
win over Milwaukee. Soriano has 40 steals to go along with 45 home
runs.

Soriano is going to add the base and the spikes he was wearing
to his personal collection, which includes the bat and batting
gloves he used when he hit his 40th home run Aug. 19.

"I'm going to show them to my son and my grandson," said
Soriano, whose jersey will go to the Hall of Fame.

Soriano led off the bottom of the first with a single to left
field. On a 2-0 count to the next batter, Felipe Lopez, Soriano
raced for second base. Brewers catcher Mike Rivera double-clutched
but did not attempt a throw.

After the steal, Soriano called time and removed the base. The
game was delayed for a moment while the RFK Stadium crowd of 24,252
rose for a standing ovation, and Soriano tipped his helmet to the
crowd.

Jose Canseco (Oakland, 1988), Barry Bonds (San Francisco, 1996)
and Alex Rodriguez (Seattle, 1998) are the only other players who
have topped 40 in each of those categories in a single season. He
also leads the league with 21 outfield assists.

Nationals manager Frank Robinson, a Hall of Fame outfielder,
said Soriano's overall season may be unmatched.

"What he's done this year, the total package, has never been
done before," Robinson said. "It's quite an accomplishment. Where
it ranks? I don't know."

The accomplishment was yet another milestone in what has been a
remarkable season for Soriano. He was acquired in December in a
trade with Texas for outfielder Brad Wilkerson, but his start in
Washington was contentious. The Nationals wanted to convert him
from second baseman to a left fielder, but Soriano resisted.

He finally agreed to move in March, and he responded with a
career year. He has set career highs in home runs and walks, and
he's three stolen bases short of his career best. He was selected
by the fans as a starter in the All-Star Game in July.

Soriano came close to 40-40 in 2002, when he stole 41 bases and
hit 39 home runs.

"I got close in 2002, but it was never in my mind to try for it
again," Soriano said. "Forty-40 -- not many people have done that.
It's very difficult."

Nationals starter Pedro Astacio (4-5) overcame a shaky start for
his first win since Aug. 15, a span of five starts. Prince Fielder
hit a two-run homer in the first and David Bell doubled in a run in
the second but Astacio limited the Brewers to just one more run in
his 5 2/3 innings.

Bernie Castro, Austin Kearns and Brian Schneider drove in two
runs apiece for Washington, which finished with 11 hits.

Dave Bush (11-11) allowed five runs and seven hits in four
innings for Milwaukee. The Brewers lost their 81st game this season
with 14 games left; they finished 81-81 last year.

"We struggled in some areas after the All-Star break," manager
Ned Yost said. "I have a pretty good idea of what we need to
improve on for next year."

Soriano's single and steal in the first sparked a three-run
rally. Nick Johnson drove in Soriano with a groundout, Kearns hit
an RBI single and Schneider doubled in Kearns for a 3-2 lead.

Astacio helped himself in the second. Nook Logan led off with a
bunt single and Astacio's sacrifice moved him to second. Logan then
stole third and scored when Rivera's throw sailed into left field.

Castro tripled in a run in the fourth to make it 5-3 and the
Nationals added three more in the seventh.

Fielder hit an RBI single in the ninth before Chad Cordero
relieved Felix Rodriguez and got one out for his 27th save in 31
chances.

Game notes
Soriano stole his 39th base on Sept. 10 at Colorado but had
stalled in his pursuit of 40-40. In the next four games, Soriano
had reached base five times but was caught stealing three times.
... Castro's two triples tied a franchise record. The last to
achieve that mark was Orlando Cabrera, who had two for the Montreal
Expos on July 30, 1998. ... Schneider had an RBI double in the
first inning to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, matching a
career high.