<
>

Gonzalez steals home-run spotlight, wins game

CHICAGO (AP) -- On a night when classic power hitters lined up
around Wrigley Field, Alex Gonzalez brought the Chicago Cubs a
victory with a homer of his own.

Gonzalez homered against John Rocker to lead off the bottom of
the ninth as the Cubs beat the Texas Rangers 4-3 Tuesday night in the first major league game featuring four players with 400 career homers.

"I was trying to get on base and then I wanted to put a good
swing on a 2-0 pitch and I didn't want to get jammed,'' Gonzalez
said.

"There is no better feeling, especially hitting it in the ninth to win. They came back and for us to pull it out in the ninth was great fun.''

Gonzalez, who had a game-winning, ninth-inning homer last month
against the Cardinals, hit the 2-0 pitch from Rocker (1-3) to left
center to give the Cubs a victory after they blew a late 3-1 lead.

Gonzalez, now with six homers this season and 89 for his career,
was on the same field with Rafael Palmeiro (460), Sammy Sosa (475),
Fred McGriff (459) and the Rangers' Juan Gonzalez (401), all members of the 400-homer club.

Texas' loss also marked the second straight game Rocker had given up the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth.

"It wasn't like Sammy Sosa up there,'' Rocker said. "I knew he wasn't a big home run hitter, so I challenged him. This game runs in cycles and bad breaks. One little mistake and it doesn't get popped or grounded. I just need some breaks.

"The first two pitches were balls, but it's not like I gave up
and just threw it down the middle.''

Antonio Alfonseca (1-1) got the win with a scoreless top of the
ninth.

Jason Bere, trying to pick up his first win since April 12, allowed just one hit in the first seven innings -- a disputed homer by Palmeiro.

Bere took a 3-1 lead into the eighth before McGriff dropped
Palmeiro's high pop for an error, Herbert Perry singled and Kevin
Mench delivered a run-scoring double.

Reliever Juan Cruz walked Michael Young to load the bases and pinch-hitter Michael Lamb tied it with a sacrifice fly.

"I'd love to get wins, I'd love for it to be different,'' said
Bere, who has pitched better than his 1-8 record. "I don't take
that (record) out there with me.''

Palmeiro, in his first appearance at Wrigley Field since the
Cubs traded him away in 1988, hit his 460th in the second.

The ball sailed down the right-field line toward the foul pole
and first base umpire Laz Diaz ruled fair. Sosa waved his arms in
protest and Cubs manager Don Baylor came out to argue, but after a
meeting of the umps, the call stood.

"It's a guess, that's what it is,'' Baylor said of the call.

Corey Patterson hit a two-run shot off Chan Ho Park in the third to make it 2-1.

Chicago made it 3-1 in the fifth as Delino DeShields doubled, moved up on Bere's sacrifice and scored when Patterson chopped a ball over Park's outstretched glove that Alex Rodriguez fielded but could only go to first.

Game notes
Palmeiro made just his second start at first base since May 11 because of ankle and calf injuries. Just 25 of his 460 homers came as a Cub from 1986-88. ... Rodriguez drove Sosa to the ivy in
right for his long drive in the seventh, and Sosa hit one to the left field wall in the third but neither of the league leaders could connect. ... Rodriguez hit a soft single to right to start the ninth, ending an 0-for-21 hitless stretch. ... Da Coach Mike Ditka sang during the seventh-inning stretch.