Cubs 5, Astros 3

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HOUSTON (AP)—When Sammy Sosa tied Ted Williams and Willie McCovey for 12th place on the career list, he let his bat speak for him.

Sosa hit his 521st career home run, his 12th in July, as the Chicago Cubs beat the Houston Astros 5-3 Sunday.

Sosa, who had been 0-for-7 in the series, homered to left in the first inning, his 22nd of the season. He trails Jimmie Foxx by 13 homers for 11th place on the career list.

Sosa, 1-for-11 in the series, declined to speak with reporters. He was booed at every plate appearance in the series.

Shawn Estes (7-8) got his first victory since June 10 as the Cubs took a 5-4 lead in the season series and pulled within 4 1/2 games of the first-place Astros in the NL Central.

“The pressure was to go out and have a good outing more than anything,” Estes said. “It’s a big game. The Astros are the team to beat in our division right now and we won two out of three here. This was a big series for us.”

Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek also had solo homers, and Kenny Lofton went 3-for-5 with a single, double and triple.

“You can’t put your finger on any one thing,” Lofton said. “Against a guy who has a good record like that, he’s not unstoppable, you just have to battle and battle, and that’s what we did today.”

Jeroime Robertson (10-4), who had been 9-0 in 15 starts since Montreal chased him after three innings on April 25, lasted just 28 pitches and allowed three runs and six hits in 1 2-3 innings. It was the shortest outing of his major league career.

“I felt great,” Robertson said. “My arm felt good. My stuff was sharp coming out of the bullpen. Even when they got some hits, I felt good.”

Kyle Farnsworth, Mark Guthrie and Joe Borowski combined for three innings of hitless relief, with Borowski completing the six-hitter for his 19th save in 22 chances.

After Sosa’s homer, Chicago built a 3-0 lead in the second on Karros’ homer and Lofton’s RBI triple. Grudzielanek homered in the fifth off Ricky Stone, just his third this season.

“That was vintage Kenny Lofton out there today,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “We know what he can do. We know he’s the guy that can drive in some runs for us. He runs the bases well and plays outstanding defense.”

Lofton scored in the fifth on a wild pitch by Brad Lidge. In the first, Lofton stole second, then tried to score on a pickoff attempt. Second baseman Jeff Kent retrieved the ball and threw out Lofton at home.

Jeff Bagwell hit a two-run homer in the third, and Richard Hidalgo homered in the sixth off Dave Veres.

“Today just wasn’t our day,” Craig Biggio said. “But we lose just one game in the loss column in this series. Estes just changed speeds on us. He doesn’t give in. We never really got anybody on. You have to tip your hat to him.”

Astros manager Jimy Williams thought the early innings were critical for Robertson and the Astros.

“I think the starter sets the tone of the game, and when he’s not having a good day, you have to protect him,” Williams said. “He didn’t want to come out. His stuff was about what it’s been all year. They’ve got pretty goodhitters over there too.”

Notes

Karros’ homer gave him 1,000 RBIs. … Biggio went 0-for-5. He had reached base in his 30 previous games. …The Astros had their fifth sellout ofthe season, their third straight, drawing 42,422,

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