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Sosa vs. McGwire heating up

The Associated Press

The NL’s best races take shape starting tonight.

Monday, September 20, 1999

The NL’s best races take shape starting tonight. That’s when Mark McGwire and his 58 home runs meet Sammy Sosa and his 61 homers at Wrigley Field.

”I’m looking forward to having a great series. Just wait and see what happens,” said Sosa, who homered Sunday as the Chicago Cubs beat Milwaukee 8-7 in 10 innings.

McGwire warmed up for the three-game set by homering twice for St. Louis in a 4-3 loss to Houston.

”What I’ve done so far isn’t too shabby,” McGwire said.

On Tuesday night, Atlanta tries to hold its one-game lead in the NL East when New York visits Turner Field. Both teams are off today, then the Braves and Mets play six times in the next 10 days.

Said Mets manager Bobby Valentine: ”I’m sure they know we’re coming. Actually, I’m hoping we play them a few more times than six.”

Atlanta beat Montreal 5-1 and New York defeated Philadelphia 8-6. In other games, Arizona downed Florida 8-7, Pittsburgh stopped Cincinnati 8-5, San Diego defeated San Francisco 6-3, and Los Angeles beat Colorado 5-2 in a game stopped after seven innings because of rain.

Cubs 8, Brewers 7, 10 innings

A day after becoming the first player to twice reach 60 homers, Sosa hit No. 61. The Cubs slugger has 13 games to challenge McGwire’s record of 70.

Sosa launched a two-run shot in the first inning. Carried by a 16 mph wind, the ball landed on a street outside Wrigley Field, hit a car windshield on a bounce and wound up in a yard.

Astros 4, Cardinals 3

Houston increased its NL Central lead to 3 1/2 games over Cincinnati despite McGwire’s two home runs at Busch Stadium.

McGwire connected twice, giving him 515 career home runs – 500 as a first baseman. He has 62 multihomer games, tied with Hank Aaron and trails only Babe Ruth (72) and Willie Mays (63).

Chris Holt (5-13) gave up both of McGwire’s homers. But Holt also won after seeing St. Louis beat Astros 20-game winners Jose Lima and Mike Hampton the previous two days.

Billy Wagner got his 37th save, breaking the team record of 36 set by Doug Jones in 1992.

Braves 5, Expos 1

Kevin Millwood beat Montreal for his career-best 18th victory and Freddy Garcia homered in his first at-bat for host Atlanta.

Garcia, acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh, replaced Brian Jordan in the outfield. Jordan has a sore right hand and Braves manager Bobby Cox admitted the cleanup hitter with 106 RBIs might be done for the season.

Mets 8, Phillies 6

John Olerud, Mike Piazza and Roger Cedeno hit home runs that led New York over Philadelphia at Shea Stadium. The Mets lead Cincinnati by four games for the wild card.

Olerud and Piazza, who missed Saturday’s game because of a bruised left hand, connected for consecutive homers in the third inning. Cedeno had three hits, scored three runs and stole his 65th base.

Kenny Rogers left with a strained left hamstring that put in doubt his next scheduled start for the Mets.

Pirates 8, Reds 5

Brian Giles hit his 38th and 39th homers as Pittsburgh withstood Greg Vaughn’s 40th home run for Cincinnati at Three Rivers Stadium.

Reds pitchers walked eight. Pete Harnisch also broke Ed Sprague’s left hand with a pitch, sidelining him for the season.

Diamondbacks 8, Marlins 7

Arizona cut its magic number for winning the NL West to six, beating Florida on Matt Williams’ sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Diamondbacks, who lead the division by eight games over the Giants, now begin their final road trip of the season with visits to Colorado and San Francisco.

Dodgers 5, Rockies 2, 7 innings

Kevin Brown overcame the 43-degree cold and the Colorado hitters to win at Coors Field in a game called after seven innings because of rain.

Brown (17-8), who had lost two in a row, lowered his ERA to 2.98. Los Angeles reliever Pedro Borbon got one out for his first save in the majors since 1996 with Atlanta.

Padres 6, Giants 3

Phil Nevin’s two-run single highlighted a four-run seventh inning and the San Diego Padres rallied to beat San Francisco for the second straight day.

San Diego trailed 3-2 before rallying against Shawn Estes, who had beaten the Padres twice this year.

Tony Gwynn hit a tying single down the right-field line. Reggie Sanders reached on an infield single to load the bases before Nevin’s single to center. Eric Owens followed with an RBI groundout.