Sosa within four career homers of McGwire

BOSTON (AP) -- Sammy Sosa returned to the scene of his first
major league homer and hit his first since April 24. He had plenty
of company in Baltimore's power surge.

Miguel Tejada and Sosa hit back-to-back homers and Geronimo Gil
added a three-run shot to lead the Orioles to a 9-3 win over the
Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night.

Sosa's homer was his 579th, four behind Mark McGwire, who is
sixth on the all-time list. His first came at Fenway Park off Roger
Clemens on June 21, 1989, when he was with Texas.

"That was a long time ago," Sosa said.

It also was a long time since his last homer, and he has only
five this season. He entered the game just 4-for-27 in eight games
since returning from the disabled list and went 1-for-4 Wednesday
with only one ball out of the infield.

"I've been off a little bit," Sosa said. "Sometimes,
especially a hitter like me, you know you're going to take a little
time, but it's going to come sooner or later because I'm the type
of person that goes to the cage every day trying to find my

He nearly homered Tuesday in the second inning of Boston's 5-1
win, but center fielder Johnny Damon caught the ball near the wall
in right-center field.

Tejada scored three runs and had four of Baltimore's 11 hits,
three of them doubles. The Orioles had plenty of offense despite
missing four sidelined starters. AL batting leader Brian Roberts
was sidelined with a sore shoulder, while Javy Lopez, Luis Matos
and Larry Bigbie are on the disabled list.

"Every time one of our guys goes down, the guy we put in always
does a great job," Tejada said after the Orioles' second win in
six games increased their AL East lead at four games.

Chris Gomez, replacing Roberts, doubled in the second before
Gil, playing for catcher Lopez, hit his second homer of the year
off Tim Wakefield (4-5). The Orioles made it 5-0 in the third on
Tejada's 14th homer and Sosa's shot to left field.

"I just didn't have very good stuff at all," said Wakefield,
who is 0-4 with and 8.74 ERA in his last four starts. "I tried to
battle through the whole game."

Sidney Ponson (6-3) had a shutout until allowing three unearned
runs in the seventh inning.

"Boston's one of those teams that always has my number. But
it's a new year, my first game against them and I was able to
change speeds," said Ponson, who entered the game with a 2-9
record and 6.70 ERA against the Red Sox.

After Ponson left, Boston left the bases loaded in the seventh
when reliever Todd Williams retired rookie Kelly Shoppach, who is
hitless in six major league at-bats, on a groundball.

Shoppach was playing because Boston manager Terry Francona
decided to rest starting catcher Jason Varitek for Thursday's
afternoon game against Baltimore after Varitek's groundout ended
the sixth inning with the Red Sox down 7-0.

"I want [Varitek] to catch a lot," Francona said. "If I said
I regretted [the decision] I'd be wrong. I don't do anything
without thinking it through, but, at the same time, I'm aware of
the situation [Shoppach] came up in."

Shoppach had been called up to the majors for the first time
last Friday and was 0-for-5 when he failed in the seventh as the
potential tying run. Boston already had scored three runs in the
inning on Damon's sacrifice fly and Manny Ramirez's two-run single.

The Orioles had made it 6-0 in the fifth on a double by Tejada,
a walk to Rafael Palmeiro and an RBI single by B.J. Surhoff. It was
7-0 in the fifth when Gomez was hit by a pitch and stole second but
was thrown out by right fielder Trot Nixon on David Newhan's
single. Newhan took second on the throw and scored on Melvin Mora's

Baltimore's last two runs scored on sacrifice flies in the ninth
by Palmeiro and Surhoff.

Game notes
Baltimore's 15-6 road record is the best in the majors. ...
The start of the game was delayed a few minutes when Damon
retrieved a cell phone from the warning track in left-center field.
... The Orioles have 74 homers, second in the majors to Texas. ...
Boston's David Ortiz reached base four times on two singles and two
walks. ... Wakefield gave up three homers in three innings after
allowing two in five starts during May.