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Chicago at Pittsburgh

Chi Cubs
W: S. Torres (2-0) L: S. Estes (1-2)
HR: CHC - S. Sosa (5)   PIT - None

Sosa's HR overshadowed by beaning, defeat

SportsLine.com wire reports

PITTSBURGH -- For a scary moment, neither the game nor their excellent start mattered to the Chicago Cubs. Not when Sammy Sosa was clutching at his broken helmet, a look of fear and anger crossing his face.

Sosa got the biggest scare of his career Sunday when he was hit in the batting helmet by a Salomon Torres fastball, but apparently wasn't seriously hurt as Cubs lost 8-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Sammy Sosa's helmet tells the tale after he is hit by a Salomon Torres pitch.  
Sammy Sosa's helmet tells the tale after he is hit by a Salomon Torres pitch. (AP) 
The pitch struck Sosa with such force it left a hole in his batting helmet, but neurological tests were negative. Sosa didn't even have a headache after the game, only a few cuts caused by his damaged helmet.

"The helmet saved me," said Sosa, who hit his 504th career homer earlier in the game. "Yeah, I've never gotten hit like that before."

Torres (2-0), who shares the same Dominican Republic hometown as Sosa, also was shaken but still pitched five shutout innings in relief of injured Pittsburgh starter Josh Fogg. Fogg lasted only an inning because of a strained abdominal muscle.

The Pirates won for only the second time in eight games and ended the Cubs' five-game winning streak.

Sosa had no chance to duck away from Torres' up-and-in pitch with the Pirates leading 7-2 in the fourth. Sosa initially glared at Torres, then clutched at his helmet as he realized what had happened.

Sosa never went down, though he looked dazed as trainer Dave Tumbas asked him a series of questions. He walked off the field without help and was examined by Pirates doctors, then by those at a nearby hospital. He returned to the clubhouse shortly after the game ended.

Before the game, Sosa and Torres exchanged greetings near the Pirates' bullpen and wished each other luck.

"I never meant to hit him," said Torres, who was out of organized baseball for five seasons before joining the Pirates last season. "I felt very badly about it. We're from the same town and he's like an idol to me."

Sosa tied Eddie Murray for 17th place on the career homer list with his two-run shot in the first off Fogg, who injured an abdominal muscle while batting in his previous start.

"Once he got on the mound, you could tell he didn't have anything," manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Torres limited the Cubs to one hit through the sixth inning, only to be lifted himself after being hit in the left knee by Juan Cruz's pitch in the sixth.

"They told me a couple of days ago they might need me for this game," Torres said. "So I paid close attention and really went over all the hitters in my head as (Saturday night's) game went along, in case I had to pitch."

The Pirates, held to three runs or fewer in 12 of their previous 13 games, took advantage of some poor Cubs infield defense and Shawn Estes' wildness to open the 7-2 lead in the third. Estes (1-2) allowed seven hits and walked three in three innings.

"We didn't play good defense," manager Dusty Baker said. "It was 5-2 in the second, and it should have been 2-2. I'm disappointed because we didn't play a very good game."

Pokey Reese's two-run single -- his only hit of the series -- and third baseman Mark Bellhorn's two-base error on Torres' bunt keyed the five-run second. The Pirates scored more runs in the inning than they did in all but one of their previous 13 games.

The Pirates twice got hits on grounders that second baseman Mark Grudzielanek couldn't make a play on, Reese's single between first and second and Kenny Lofton's two-run single.

"The baseball gods owed us that," Lofton said. "We've been hitting the ball hard but had nothing to show for it."

Pittsburgh had been held to nine runs while losing four of their first five to the Cubs.

Before his big scare, Sosa hit his fifth homer of the season and 475th with the Cubs. It was his fourth homer in nine games and ran his hitting streak to 10 games. Sosa needs seven homers to tie Mel Ott for 16th place and eight to tie Ernie Banks and Eddie Matthews for 14th place.


  • Joe Beimel, Brian Boehringer and Scott Sauerbeck followed Torres with a scoreless relief inning each.
  • The Pirates didn't commit an error for only the fourth time in 18 games.
  • Pittsburgh is 6-0 when scoring more than four runs.
  • Lofton was 2-for-26 in seven games before getting three hits.
  • The Cubs were denied only their second series sweep in two seasons.
  • Estes was the first Cubs starter to lose in six games.
  • Reese had six strikeouts and grounded into a double play in his other seven at-bats in the series.
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
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Attendance - 14854
Game Time - 2:18
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Umpires - Home - Alfonso Marquez, First Base - Rick Reed, Second Base - Tim Tschida, Third Base - Jeff Nelson