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Reds keeping Sosa#039;s home run total on hold

CHICAGO -- Sammy Sosa doesn't want to be moved up in the lineup or get any other kind of special treatment for these last three games.

If he gets to 500 home runs this season, great. If not, there's always next year.

''I just want it to be the way it is,'' he said. ''I don't think they should move me. I'm OK right there.''

Sosa remains stuck on 498 career homers after going 1-for-4 Thursday in the Chicago Cubs' 1-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. He's gone 22 plate appearances since his last homer, and has just five in the last 23 games.

He also needs two homers to become the first player to reach 50 in five seasons.

''The fans want me to do it, a lot of people behind me want me to do it and I want to do it,'' Sosa said. ''But you've got to be patient. Sometimes, when you have a lot of people behind you, it's something that isn't easy.

''It's going to happen anyway,'' he added. ''If it doesn't happen this year, so what?''

Cubs interim manager Bruce Kimm said he's considered moving Sosa up in the lineup in hopes of getting him a few more at-bats. But Sosa shot that idea down right away.

''Nah, I don't need that,'' he said.

He -- and the rest of the Cubs -- just need the Reds' pitchers to leave town. Chicago managed only two runs in the three-game series against Cincinnati.

Danny Graves (7-3) became the latest to contain them, scattering four hits over six innings to get his first victory as a starter. Graves, who made his fourth start after 363 relief appearances, walked only two while striking out seven.

He got in trouble once, loading the bases with a walk to Alex Gonzalez in the fourth inning. But he struck out Mike Mahoney to get out of the jam.

''This is so much more relaxing,'' Graves said. ''I never thought I would say this, but right now, I actually like starting better than relieving. With relieving, you can't make any mistakes.''

He said he made a couple mistakes with Sosa, leaving a pitch up in both of the slugger's first two at-bats. Sosa topped the second one, turning it into an infield single that was his only hit of the series.

''I'm totally convinced I can do this,'' Graves said. ''You are going to have your bad starts, but hopefully you just overcome that and every fifth game you get, just make the best with it.''

Jose Guillen backed Graves with an RBI single, making up for a baserunning blunder in the second inning. Joey Hamilton allowed one hit in two relief innings, and Scott Williamson pitched the ninth for his eighth save in 12 chances.

The Cubs wasted another decent pitching performance, this one by Carlos Zambrano (4-8). Zambrano allowed only one run and four hits in seven innings, walking five and striking out three.

But the Cubs struck out 10 times and had only three runners in scoring position.

''Today was probably the most nervous I've been, for whatever reason,'' Graves said. ''You don't want to end your season on a bad outing.''

Notes: Graves improved to 7-1 against the Cubs and 3-0 this year. … The Cubs lead the majors with 1,247 strikeouts, a club record. … Cubs radio broadcaster Ron Santo missed the game with food poisoning. He was replaced in the booth by Hall of Famer Billy Williams. … Pearl Jam lead singer and Cubs fan Eddie Vedder was at the game.