Just as he is rediscovering his swing, Sammy Sosa now faces a temporary life away from baseball.
Playing his first road game since being nabbed with the illegal bat June 3, Sosa doubled and scored the Cubs’ first run in a 4-0 victory in the opening game of the series. The Cubs have won three straight.
Sosa appealed his eight-game suspension hours before Tuesday’s contest. It was reduced by one game by major league baseball on Wednesday.
“I am convinced of the sincerity of Sosa’s explanation and his contrition,” said Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer. “In my opinion, his candor and the promptness of his apology on the night of June 3 were exemplary.
“However, at the end of the day, each player must be accountable for his own equipment complying with the rules, whether the violation is deliberate or inadvertent.”
Sosa, who has not homered since May 1, is batting .333 (8-for-24) over his last six games, including two hits Tuesday to raise his batting average to .290.
The only player to hit at least 60 homers in three different seasons, Sosa received a cordial ovation from the Baltimore crowd when he went to right field in the first inning.
“It’s something that made me feel very good, very proud,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot for this game, so they respect that, and they show me that appreciation.”
But he also had antagonists. Some fans in the bleachers threw cork at the him while he was playing the outfield. The game was also interrupted in the bottom of the eighth when a fan ran onto the outfield, removed his shirt and bowed to the slugger.
After enjoying a stretch in which they won nine of 11, the Orioles have lost six of seven.
Mora, who leads the AL with a .364 average, is batting .462 (39-for-84) during the longest streak of his career.
STANDINGS: Cubs - 1st place (tied), NL Central. Orioles - 4th place, 6 1/2 GB, AL East.
CUBS PROBABLE STARTER: Matt Clement (3-6, 4.61 ERA). Clement snapped a five-game losing streak with Thursday’s 8-1 win over Tampa Bay. The right-hander, who had a 6.57 ERA over six starts during the skid, allowed just one run and seven hits over seven innings against the Devil Rays, striking out seven and walking two. Clement won his lone career start against the Orioles, yielding one run and four hits over 6 1-3 innings of a 7-1 win July 15, 2001, when he was pitching for Florida.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Omar Daal (4-6, 4.91 ERA). Daal is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA over his last three starts and is coming off his worst outing of the season. The left-hander was reached for four runs and seven hits over two innings of Thursday’s 11-1 loss to Houston. Daal, who pitched in the NL in 10 of his 11 seasons before joining the Orioles, is 3-2 with a 4.18 ERA in 20 career appearances, including seven starts, against the Cubs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Cubs - 5-2; Orioles - 1-6.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Cubs - OF Moises Alou is hitting .500 with two homers and five RBIs in 12 at-bats against LHP Daal. … OF Patterson has four homers and 18 RBI off left-handed pitchers this season. … Camden Yards is the 104th major league ballpark the Cubs have visited since they began play in 1876. Orioles - OF Matos has at least one hit in all 15 games since being recalled from Triple-A Ottawa on May 23, and is batting .444 (28-for-63). … The Orioles have reached double figures in hits in 16 of their last 19 games and have scored six or more runs 14 times in that span. … LHP Buddy Groom had allowed runs in six of his last 11 outings, going 0-3 with an 18.00 ERA after going 11 appearances through May 1 without allowing a run.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cubs - 17-12 on the road; Orioles - 14-15 at home.
INJURIES: Cubs - 1B Hee Seop Choi (concussion), 15-day DL; LHP Will Ohman (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Dave Veres (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Chiasson (elbow), 60-day DL. Orioles - 2B Hairston (leg), 15-day DL; OF Larry Bigbie (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Lopez (oblique), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle(hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL.