Indians 9, Rangers 4
CLEVELAND (AP)—Sammy Sosa is “Slammin’ Sammy” once again.
Sosa’s 439-foot drive leading off the sixth inning against Byrd (2-1) made Jacobs Field the 44th major league ballpark in which he has homered. That broke a tie with Ken Griffey Jr. and Fred McGriff for the most in a big league career.
“It’s nice to have that record, but if we had won I would have enjoyed it more,” Sosa said.
He obtained the record-setting ball by signing two baseballs for the fan who got it in the left-field bleachers.
Sosa has six homers and 18 RBIs, but he’s hitting only .239 in 19 games since sitting out all of 2006. He said he still hasn’t got his timing back after the long layoff.
“The more I play, the more adjustments I can make,” he said. “If you talk about getting hot, I’m not there yet. “
Byrd was wary of pitching to Sosa with or without runners on base.
“You still don’t want to elevate a fastball to him,” Byrd said. “On the homer, I was trying to go inside, left it up and away and knew where it was headed as soon as he swung.”
The only stadiums currently in use that the 38-year-old outfielder has not hit a homer in are RFK Stadium in Washington and the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Byrd left after yielding a leadoff single in the seventh to Gerald Laird. The right-hander allowed three runs and eight hits, walked one and struck out three. The Rangers twice put a runner at third base with none out and failed to score against Byrd.
Texas loaded the bases in the first, but left fielder Shin-Soo Choo caught a fly ball from Mark Teixeira and made a perfect no-hop throw to get Kenny Lofton trying to tag up from third. Sosa then grounded out to end the threat.
“That play picked us up,” Byrd said. “Three minutes in, I’ve got the bases loaded and it had disaster written all over it.”
Choo said he wasn’t really trying to get Lofton and wanted to make a strong, low throw that would keep the other runners from moving up.
“I was very surprised,” he said with a wide-eyed look.
Lofton tripled to open the fifth, but Byrd got three quick outs to strand him.
“Pretty soon this has to stop,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said after his team went 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position and dropped to 2-9 on the road. “These guys have a track record. You have to believe that pretty soon we’ll get it done.”
Choo opened the bottom half of the second with a single and scored on Kelly Shoppach’s double. Shoppach later scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-1.
Hank Blalock doubled and scored in the second and fourth innings and Sosa’s first homer of the game cut it to 5-3 in the sixth.
But Cleveland extended its lead in the bottom half on an RBI single by Grady Sizemore and bases-loaded walks by Casey Blake and Travis Hafner. Jhonny Peralta hit his third homer in the seventh to make it 9-3.
Loe allowed seven runs and six hits with three walks over 5 1-3 innings in his second start of the season. The right-hander made five relief appearances before being into the starting rotation when Jamey Wright went on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation on April 13.
Rain delayed the start 25 minutes. … Lofton got his AL-leading ninth stolen base and was successful in all three of his attempts in the two-game series. … Indians 2B Josh Barfield broke an 0-for-19 streak with a bad-hop single in the sixth. … Sosa is 5-for-13 (.385) with three homers in his career against Byrd.