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Sosa’s surge vaults him into HR race

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Suddenly, Sammy Sosa is being mentioned in the same sentence as Roger Maris and Mark McGwire.

In a power surge of historic proportions, Sosa hit his 17th home run this month Sunday for the Chicago Cubs in a 7-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.Sosa extended his major league record for homers in June and matched Willie Mays' mark for the most home runs in any month.

The Cubs still have eight games left in June, giving Sosa a good shot at the big league record for home runs in a month - 18 by Rudy York of Detroit in August 1937.

Sosa has hit 30 home runs, three behind McGwire's major league-leading total. Both players are ahead of the pace Maris set when he hit a record 61 homers in 1961.

"It's a free country," Sosa said of the comparisons. "I've just got to keep going. I know what I have to do when I go up there."

Sosa's drive at Wrigley Field gave him 10 home runs in his last nine games and 21 homers in his last 22.

Sosa homered into the right-field bleachers, drawing a standing ovation and bows from the crowd.

"Sammy's so hot, I don't even have words to describe it," Cubs manager Jim Riggleman said. "He's setting standards I don't know if anyone's going to meet."

Sosa got three of the Cubs' eight hits.

"When he hit the ball to left field (for a single), I went `Phew,' " Phillies manager Terry Francona said.

PADRES 5, GIANTS 1: Kevin Brown won again at San Francisco and improved to 6-0 with an 0.58 ERA overall in seven regular-season starts against the Giants.

San Diego won for the 12th time in 13 games. The Giants have lost eight of 11, including six defeats by the Padres.

EXPOS 4, BRAVES 1: Montreal gave Felipe Alou his 500th career victory, moving him past Gene Mauch into second place on the win list among Expos managers. Buck Rodgers leads with 520.

METS 3, MARLINS 2: John Franco pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the eighth inning, sprinting off the field with his arms raised after striking out pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay.

CARDINALS 5, DIAMONDBACKS 4: St. Louis scored the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning on Clint Sodowsky's bases-loaded wild pitch at Busch Stadium.

ASTROS 3, REDS 1: Pete Schourek, who pitched for Cincinnati from 1994-97, helped Houston send Cincinnati to its eighth straight loss.

ROCKIES 11, DODGERS 6: Dante Bichette homered and drove in five runs as Colorado overcame another big game by Eric Karros.

PIRATES 8, BREWERS 7: Jose Guillen hit a grand slam as Pittsburgh take an 8-1 lead before Milwaukee rallied to make it close.

American League

RED SOX 3, DEVIL RAYS 1: One hanging pitch in the fifth inning prevented Pedro Martinez from hanging around for the ninth.

Martinez allowed only one hit - an RBI triple to Miguel Cairo in the fifth on an 0-2 curveball - to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 3-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday at St. Petersburg, Fla.

"It was my only mistake in the game," Martinez said. "It was a hanging breaking ball. I threw a good one the previous one, then I hang one and I give up the base hit. That's all it takes for you to win or lose a game."

Martinez (9-2) struck out six, walked two and appears to have put a recent rocky stretch behind him.

INDIANS 11, YANKEES 0: At Cleveland, Bartolo Colon, Manny Ramirez and the Indians showed the Yankees and their fans that there's more than one dominant team in the AL.

ANGELS 10, RANGERS 7: At Anaheim, Calif., Darin Erstad drove in four runs and Jason Dickson (8-4) won his seventh straight decision as Anaheim won for the 18th time in 21 games.

BLUE JAYS 7, ORIOLES 3: At Baltimore, Ed Sprague hit two homers and Pat Hentgen (8-4) pitched seven innings for his first win since May 25.

TWINS 6, WHITE SOX 1: At Chicago, Mike Morgan (4-2) took a shutout into the ninth and Brent Gates hit his first career grand slam.

ROYALS 6, TIGERS 5: At Detroit, Jeff Conine hit a three-run double and Hipolito Pichardo (3-6) won his first game since May 5.

MARINERS 10, ATHLETICS 5: At Seattle, Rico Rossy came up from the minors and hit his first homer in nearly five years to lead Seattle.