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Published: Thursday, 6/21/2007

Sosa smashes 600th homer

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sammy Sosa became only the fifth player in major league history to hit 600 home runs when he connected last night. Sammy Sosa became only the fifth player in major league history to hit 600 home runs when he connected last night.
TONY GUTIERREZ / AP Enlarge

ARLINGTON, Texas - Sammy Sosa's 600th homer resembled so many that came before - except this time the Chicago Cubs were on the other side.

Playing for the Texas Rangers after a year out of baseball, Sosa became the fifth member of the 600-homer club last night when he connected against his former team.

After driving a 1-2 pitch to right-center for a solo shot in the fifth inning of Texas' 7-3 victory, Slammin' Sammy bounced out of the batter's box with his trademark hop and thrust his right fist into the air before reaching first base. He was mobbed at home plate by his teammates while the scoreboard showed pictures of all five members of the elite club: Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sosa.

Sosa played for the Cubs from 1992-2004, winning the '98 NL MVP award and making seven all-star teams while hitting 545 homers with Chicago.

No. 600 came off Jason Marquis, the 364th pitcher the 38-year-old Sosa has homered off in his 18 major league seasons.

It was Sosa's 12th homer in 62 games this season since signing a minor league deal and making the roster in spring training with Texas, the franchise that gave him his start. He hit his first big league homer with the Rangers in 1989.

Sosa also has 52 RBIs, which ranks seventh in the American League. He has homered against every major league team in his career.

After going into the dugout with his teammates, Sosa came out for a curtain call. He blew kisses to the crowd and acknowledged the Cubs' dugout with a pump of his fist, and Chicago manager Lou Piniella pointed back toward the slugger. Sosa had never faced the Cubs before the series opener Tuesday night.

A countdown banner that has hung in right field for about a month was flipped from 599 to 600 - and a new banner was unfurled in center field congratulating Sosa for joining the 600-homer club.

Chants of "Sam-my! Sam-my!" prompted a second curtain call from Sosa.

While Sosa has had an impressive comeback this season, his pursuit of 600 homers was overshadowed by the Rangers (27-44) having the worst record in baseball and Bonds' chase to catch Aaron atop the career home run list.

Bonds has 748 homers - seven shy of Aaron's mark - with only three in his last 97 at-bats. Ruth is third on the home run list with 714 and Mays is fourth with 660.

Sosa had a similar homer drought. No. 600 was only his second in 22 games - a span of 83 at-bats in which his only other homer was a grand slam Friday at Cincinnati.

"Sammy's had a great career," Piniella said before the series began. "It's maybe apropos that here the Cubbies are in town and Sammy is going for his 600th home run."



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