Sosa hits

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Brant Brown drifted back in left field for the final easy out, sunglasses down to shield him from the glare of the late-afternoon sun.
The ball landed right on his glove, drawing cheers from the Chicago fans. But the shouts of joy quickly turned to gasps as the ball dropped to the ground, possibly taking the Cubs’ playoff hopes right along with it.
“We’ve had a lot of tough losses,” Cubs manager Jim Riggleman said. “The timing of that loss right there, certainly, it’s excruciating.”
The Milwaukee Brewers scored three runs on Brown’s error for an 8-7 victory Wednesday. Sammy Sosa broke out of his 0-for-21 slump and hit back-to-back solo homers to give the Cubs a 7-0 lead, but the Brewers rallied for eight runs in the final three innings.
The timing of the loss was especially bad. Chicago, which has three games remaining, began the day tied with New York atop the NL wild-card race. A win would have given the Cubs a one-game lead; the Mets lost 3-0 to Montreal.
As the ball fell to the ground, several Cubs players dropped to their knees. Brown appeared to be crying as he reached the dugout, and he looked stunned as he spoke with reporters in the clubhouse.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” said Brown, who went to left field in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement. “The bottom line is I clanked it and we lost the game. You can say the wind, you can say the sun, but those are elements you play with every day. Hopefully, it doesn’t cost us that much.”
Sosa, breaking an 0-for-21 slump, hit solo shots in the fifth and sixth innings to tie Mark McGwire at 65 and give the Cubs a 7-0 lead. It was his 11th multihomer game this season, tying the major league record set by Detroit’s Hank Greenberg in 1938.
Sosa had been hitless since his grand slam last week in San Diego that gave him No. 63. But he’s hit more homers off Milwaukee than any other team, and Brewers manager Phil Garner knew it was just a matter of time before he broke out of his slump.
After walking in his first two at-bats, Sosa sent Rafael Roque’s 1-0 pitch over the right-field wall in the fifth, putting the Cubs ahead 4-0. Fans, who rose to their feet each time Sosa stepped to the plate, let out a huge roar when they realized the ball was going over the wall. Sosa did his trademark home run hop, and then trotted around the bases while the crowd chanted: “Sam-mee! Sam-mee!”
In the sixth inning, he put Rod Henderson’s 2-2 pitch over the center-field wall. The two homers gave Sosa 156 RBIs, fourth-best in NL history.
ù Mark McGwire couldn’t answer Sammy Sosa’s two-homer salvo.
Facing Randy Johnson, the NL’s dominant pitcher since he arrived in Houston last month, the St. Louis Cardinals’ slugger drew two walks, singled and hit his third warning-track fly ball in two nights in a 7-1 loss Wednesday night.
McGwire and Sosa have homered on the same day 20 times. Not this day, as the NL Central champion Astros won for the 100th time and the home run kings headed into the home stretch tied for the major-league record with 65 apiece.
McGwire has four games left at home against the Montreal Expos and Sosa has three games to go on the road against Houston.