CHICAGO (AP) -- Jose Valentin dropped his bat, raised his arms
and then took off on a celebratory jaunt around the bases as his
teammates waited to mob him at the plate.
His homer in the bottom of the ninth Friday did more than give
the Chicago White Sox a thrilling 4-3 victory. It beat the team
from the other side of town, the Cubs.
"We don't get as much respect as the North side gets. What
better time to do it?" Valentin said.
"Show the people that there is another team in town that they
have to root for. We're showing them right now."
The White Sox, winners of five of their last seven overall, have
also captured three of the first four meetings with the Cubs in
their spirited interleague series.
Valentin sent a pitch from Antonio Alfonseca (0-1) over the
fence in right center for his 11th homer, one of his biggest hits
since joining the White Sox to start the 2000 season.
"It has to be one of the best. I don't think I can remember the
last time I hit a walk-off," Valentin said.
"What a great feeling, to win the game right there. That's the
best hit in baseball, the walk-off home run. You've got to enjoy
The Cubs, who lost their third straight to tie a season high,
certainly didn't enjoy it.
The Cubs loaded the bases on singles by Tom Goodwin and Mark
Grudzielanek and a walk off Tom Gordon before Koch relieved. Koch
struck out Corey Patterson before Sosa -- who was 0-for-4 at that
point with two bases-loaded strikeouts -- delivered. So did Alou.
But the Cubs didn't produce most of the day with men on base,
stranding 12. Their only run before the ninth came on Alex
Gonzalez's solo homer in the first.
"It seems like everytime we get close or have the opportunity
to take the lead, we can't get it done. It's frustrating," Cubs
manager Dusty Baker said.
And the Cubs' bullpen has given up late homers in each of the
three losses the last three days.
"You walk off the field when they hit a home run, especially in
a big rivalry and as close as that game was, it's a tough loss,"
Cubs starter Matt Clement said.
Lee's 12th homer this season, a high drive over the fence in
right off Clement, was his eighth career homer against the Cubs.
Frank Thomas had tied the game at 1-1 in the sixth with his 17th
With U.S. Cellular Field brimming with 45,147 fans --the sixth
biggest crowd since it opened as new Comiskey Park in 1991 -- Sosa
was booed loudly in each at-bat.
Gordon fanned Sosa with the bases loaded in the seventh and then
got Alou on a grounder to end the Cubs threat.
Clement, who'd been driven out by the White Sox six days ago at
Wrigley Field after giving up 11 hits and seven runs in 3 1-3
innings, shut the White Sox out on two hits until Thomas' homer. He
gave up just five hits and three runs in 7 2-3 innings.
During batting practice and stretching drills, Sosa wore
blue-colored ear plugs that matched the Cubs jerseys, but didn't
have them in during the game.
And security was beefed up for Sosa, who played with the White
Sox from 1989-91 and was traded crosstown in 1992.
Two guards came out of the bullpen and stood on the warning
track between Sosa and the stands as he took his position in right
field each inning.
Fans weren't about to let him forget the corked bat he used
earlier this month that caused him to be suspended seven games.
"Scammy Sosa," one sign read. "Got Cork?" read another.
Sosa struck out with the bases loaded against Danny Wright in
the fifth, but got a second chance in the seventh, again fanning
against Gordon. He finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts overall.
Sosa didn't comment Friday and hasn't spoken with reporters in
nine days. "To me it didn't really bother him," Patterson said of the
reception Sosa received. "He knows how to handle himself."
^Notes:@ Dusty Baker got his first look at U.S. Cellular Field
where in less than three weeks he will manage the NL in the
All-Star game. Sox manager Jerry Manuel will be a coach for the AL.
... Wright, who began the season on the disabled list with a sore
elbow, hasn't won since last Sept. 26. ... Lee hit a game-winning
grand slam in the 10th inning against the Cubs in 2001.