Sosa homers twice as Cubs beat Cardinals

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CHICAGO (AP) – Sammy Sosa joined Mark McGwire and Babe Ruth as the only major leaguers with four 50-homer seasons, hitting his 50th and 51st Sunday as the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1.

Sosa’s ninth multihomer game of the season helped rookie Juan Cruz get his first major league win as the Cubs stayed three games behind first-place Houston in the NL Central.

Sosa sent a 3-2 pitch from Dustin Hermanson into the right-center-field bleachers in the first inning for No. 50, a two-run shot that set off a loud ovation at Wrigley Field.

With the injured McGwire on the opposite side, Sosa emerged from the dugout for a curtain call and waved his helmet to the crowd.

Fred McGriff then legged out a triple and scored on Michael Tucker’s double for a 3-0 lead.

Sosa added a solo shot off Hermanson (12-10) in the fifth, a high drive that landed in the shrubbery in center field.

Sosa has reached at least 50 homers in four straight seasons, just as McGwire did from 1996-1999. Ruth reached 50 in 1920-21 and 1927-28.

The Cubs’ slugger, who also has a pair of three-homer games this month, has eight homers in his last 10 games and 16 in August to move within four of major league leader Barry Bonds.

Sosa grounded out to short in the third. With a shot at another three-homer game in the seventh, he hit a run-scoring single off Mike Timlin, giving him four RBIs and 133 for the season.

The 20-year-old Cruz (1-1), making his second major league start, gave up four hits in 5 2-3 innings. He retired 12 straight before J.D. Drew walked and Albert Pujols doubled with two outs in the sixth. Jeff Fassero relieved and struck out Jim Edmonds looking on a 3-2 pitch.

The Cardinals averted a shutout on Drew’s RBI single off Kyle Farnsworth in the eighth.

Hermanson allowed six hits and four runs in five innings and had his three-game winning streak snapped.