ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Slammin’ Sammy swung hard against his old team. And missed.
Playing against the Chicago Cubs for the first time in his career, with cameras flashing on every pitch to the slugger, Sosa was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Tuesday night in Texas’ 5-4 loss. He remained one home run shy of becoming the fifth member of the 600-homer club.
“I don’t worry about that. My main focus is me and the pitcher,” Sosa said. “Today is over. I’ll come back tomorrow ready to go again.”
Sosa, whose only homer in the past 21 games was a grand slam Friday in Cincinnati, has two more chances against the Cubs to join Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays in the elite club. Slammin’ Sammy has 11 homers in 61 games this season for Texas.
Sosa hit 545 homers with the Cubs from 1992-2004, when he was the 1998 NL MVP and a seven-time All-Star. Chicago was the only team that Sosa, in his 18th major league season, had never faced as an opponent.
And based on his hard swings, he was excited about the chance to face his old team.
“I’m an aggressive guy. I’m not a guy that’s going to go out there and swing like a girl,” Sosa said.
Sosa struck out swinging in the first inning, then took a called third strike in the third after a couple of hard swings. Sosa struck out swinging again in the fifth and flew out to left—well short of the wall—in the eighth inning, prompting many fans to head to the exits.
“I thought he was taking normal swings at pitches he thought he saw,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
The Cubs played at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for the first time, and many in the announced crowd of 38,290 wore Chicago jerseys and cheered for the visitors—and Sosa.
“It was nice, a lot of people showed up,” Sosa said. “I still have to go out there and concentrate.”
Carlos Marmol (2-0) struck out the first four batters he faced and five of nine in three perfect innings. Ryan Dempster struck out the side in the ninth for his 16th save in 18 chances, completing five hitless innings by the Cubs’ bullpen.
“Our starter didn’t pitch well, but our bullpen saved us,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
Mike Fontenot, part of the February 2005 trade that sent Sosa to Baltimore, was 2-for-3 with a walk and scored twice for the Cubs—the second run after his leadoff single in the sixth and before Lee’s double.
“It’s cool to be involved in a game like this after getting traded for him. It’s fun. But I’m just happy to be in the lineup,” Fontenot said. “I didn’t expect this many Cubs fans. It seemed like there were more of them than Ranger fans.”
Lee appealed the five-game suspension he got because of a bench-clearing brawl Saturday at Wrigley Field after he was hit by a pitch thrown by San Diego’s Chris Young, who has also appealed a five-game suspension.
Lee was hit in the forearm by a pitch from Young that appeared to be headed toward the first baseman’s head. Lee walked to first, had words with the pitcher, then threw a punch. Young swung back and the benches emptied.
Felix Pie had a two-run triple in the third to put the Cubs up 2-1.
Alfonso Soriano, who played in Texas in 2004 and 2005, drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the fourth to make it 4-2. Mark DeRosa, who had a career season for the Rangers last year before signing a free-agent deal with the Cubs, had a sacrifice fly earlier in the inning.
Marshall left after Kinsler’s two-run homer with no outs in the fifth tied the game at 4-4.
Kinsler’s 12th homer of the season came in the first inning, and Wilkerson led off the third with his seventh. Kenny Lofton had a leadoff single in the fifth before Kinsler homered again. Sosa never came close.
“I don’t think he’s pressing,” Kinsler said. “We’re hoping the next pitch is the one he hits out.”
The Rangers played the first of 20 games in 20 days before the All-Star break. … The Philadelphia Phillies are the only NL team which hasn’t played in Arlington. … Marshall had allowed only three homers in his first five starts. … The Cubs are 75-77 in interleague play, 5-2 this season.