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No homers, but Sosa still a hit at Wrigley

6/6/2003

CHICAGO (AP) -- Sammy Sosa's corked bat and Roger Clemens' bid
Saturday for win No. 300. All part of a wild week at Wrigley Field.

Cubs manager Dusty Baker wanted to make sure his team
concentrated on performance instead of the hype, so he met with his
players Thursday. Based on the way the team responded, the session
was a success.

Sosa got the Cubs started with a first-inning RBI single and
also reached on an error in a seven-run third as Chicago routed the
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8-1.

"It was a great meeting. I feel very happy about it," Sosa said.

"Dusty thought it was slipping away because things have been
happening so much with the Sammy incident. It can affect you if you
let it bother you," said Chicago's Lenny Harris, who got his
1,000th hit.

"It's been an emotional week, especially for Sammy. We're
behind him all the way. He's going to keep his head up."

Bob Watson, who's in charge of discipline for the commissioner's
office, suspended Sosa for eight games on Friday. Sosa appealed the
suspension.

Sosa's corked bat was discovered when it shattered in the first
inning Tuesday night after he hit a ground ball.

The Cubs now face the Yankees in a three-game series, the teams'
first meeting since the 1938 World Series. Clemens will face Kerry Wood on Saturday.

Sosa went 1-for-4 Thursday while waiting word from the
commissioner's office on his punishment. Bob Watson, who's in
charge of discipline, wrapped up his Wrigley Field investigation
before heading back to New York.

An announcement on Sosa's possible suspension could come as
early as Friday, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said.

Sosa's corked bat was discovered when it shattered in the first
inning Tuesday night after he hit a ground ball.

Sosa, No. 17 on the career homer list with 505, claims he
mistakenly used a batting practice bat in the game, a contention
that has been met with great skepticism across the country.
Seventy-six other bats in Sosa's locker and five at the Hall of
Fame were tested and found to have no foreign substance.

Sosa, in a batting tailspin since coming off the disabled list
Friday, is now 4-for-24 in his last six games. He hasn't homered
since May 1.

"It's probably going to take a couple more games before I feel
comfortable at the plate," Sosa said.

Just as they did Wednesday night, fans cheered Sosa as he raced
to his position in right field to start the game and again in each
at-bat.

Clement (3-6), who had lost his previous five decisions, got his
first win since April 18, losing a shutout bid when Aubrey Huff hit
a run-scoring double in the sixth. He allowed seven hits in seven
innings with two walks and a strikeout.

For once the Cubs' offense didn't desert Clement. In his
previous 10 starts, Chicago had managed just 33 runs, 23 while
Clement was in the game.

Five of the Cubs' seven runs in the third off Dewon Brazleton
(1-5) were unearned, thanks to three Devil Ray errors -- two on
former Cub Jason Smith at third base one day after he was called up
from the minors.

"We've had a problem with that, where we make a mistake and
things escalate," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said.

"Brazleton made some bad pitches. Then he lost his composure a
little bit."

Clement reached on Smith's low throw to start the third After
Harris singled for his 1,000th career hit, Alex Gonzalez hit an RBI
double and Corey Patterson followed with a two-run triple.

Patterson scored when Smith -- acquired by Tampa Bay in 2001 when
Fred McGriff was traded to Chicago -- fielded Sosa's grounder and
threw high over first. Ramon Martinez added an RBI double, another
run scored when Tampa Bay left fielder Jason Tyner fumbled the ball
and Clement drove in the seventh run with a single in his second
at-bat of the inning.

Sosa singled up the middle in the first to score Patterson, who
had doubled.

Game notes
Harris batted lead off for the first time since April, 2001
when he played for the Mets. ... Smith was a 1996 draft choice of
the Cubs in the 23th round. He was called up Wednesday when the
Devil Rays released Damion Easley.