Sammy Sosa got something last night nearly as elusive as his 60th homer -- a victory for the Chicago Cubs. Sosa doubled off the base of the wall in right-center field in his final at-bat, driving in two runs in the ninth inning as the Cubs beat the Reds, 6-5, in Cincinnati.
Although Sosa just missed a record-setting homer -- he even gave a little hop after his hit left the bat -- he gave the Cubs a breakthrough win and handed Cincinnati a heartbreak.
The Cubs took two of three from the Reds, their first series win since July 21-22.
"That double was unbelievable," Sosa said, fully enjoying his handiwork. "I was looking for that one. That means more than the home run."
It was a costly blown save by Danny Graves (8-7). With the rest of the NL contenders off, the Reds could have gained a half-game. Instead, they slipped to 3 1/2 behind Houston in the NL Central and three behind the New York Mets for the wild card.
Cincinnati gave up Sosa's 59th homer one week ago in Chicago, leaving him one home run away from becoming the first to hit 60 twice. They gave him little to hit throughout the series, but had no choice but to pitch to him with the game on the line in the ninth.
Sosa was 0 for 4 when he came up against Graves with runners on first and second and one out. His drive off the base of the wall scored both runners to put the Cubs up 6-5.
Cubs first baseman Mark Grace patted Sosa before he left the on-deck circle and headed to the plate.
"I told him, `You're the Man,' " Grace said. "He thinks Mark McGwire's the Man. I've got to pump him up, remind him a little bit. He just missed getting 60."
GIANTS 6, MARLINS 5: After spending most of the past decade in the minors, Bronswell Patrick is happy just to be in the major leagues. Winning a game in September for a team fighting to stay in the playoff chase is even better.
Patrick celebrated his 29th birthday by pitching two scoreless innings of relief in his Giants debut as San Francisco won its fifth straight, defeating visiting Florida to sweep a three-game series.
The Giants moved a half-game closer to the idle Arizona Diamondbacks, who lead the NL West by seven games with 16 left to play.
Patrick (1-0) reached the majors with Milwaukee last season after spending 10 years in the minors, and went 4-1 in 32 games for the Brewers. But after signing with the Giants, he spent this season in the minors until being called up last week.
"I've been battling all my life," Patrick said. "I'm happy to be here. It was great to pitch, and it was great to get the win. It feels good to be associated with something like this."
Giants Manager Dusty Baker said he called on the newcomer in the sixth inning because he thought Patrick's assortment of off-speed pitches would work against a young Marlins team loaded with good fastball hitters.
"Perhaps this is the situation where you might have a September call-up or two who might get you over the hump," Baker said.