||[May. 16th, 2004|01:44 pm]
|||||Sammy Sosa- passed Mike Schmidt on all-time career home run||]|
SAN DIEGO -- Sergio Mitre had quite the homecoming Saturday while Sammy Sosa set yet another home run milestone.
Mitre (2-2), who was raised in South San Diego and is an offseason resident, pitched six innings to earn the victory, and Sosa slammed career home run No. 549 for ninth place on the career home-run list, as the Cubs defeated the Padres, 7-5, before 42,064 at PETCO Park.
Pitching in front of more than two dozen family and friends, Mitre escaped major jams in the third, fourth and fifth innings. The 6-foot-4 right-hander allowed three runs on six hits, while striking out three.
"It was very exciting -- hometown, new stadium," said Mitre, who was a Dodgers' fan growing up having been born in Los Angeles. "I took the same approach, the only difference was it was in front of my hometown."
Added Cubs manager Dusty Baker: "He did a great job. He kept us right in there."
Mitre, 23, was the Cubs' seventh-round selection in the 2001 draft out of San Diego City College, which is located within walking distance of PETCO Park. The 210-pound Mitre, a resident of San Ysidro near the Mexican border, was making his first ever Major League appearance against the team he grew up watching.
Sosa's two-run homer in the fifth inning was his second homer in as many nights. The right fielder crushed a 2-1 offering from Adam Eaton -- a 92 mph fastball that landed in the second deck of the historic Western Metal Supply Co. building bleachers in left field.
The distance of Sosa's home run was estimated at 434 feet, the longest in the short history of PETCO Park, which opened this season. It was also the 40th homer of Sosa's career against San Diego. During the historic home run battle in 1998 with Mark McGwire, Sosa belted No. 63 of that season in a Sept. 16 game at Qualcomm Stadium, the Padres' former home. The grand slam came off Brian Boehringer and was the 270th of Sosa's career.
"They (Padres) have been pitching me tough but they've made two mistakes," said Sosa, referring to the home runs. Sosa had struck out in his first two-at bats Saturday. "I am the type of the person that I don't give up."
Sosa wasn't the only Cub to contribute Saturday. Moises Alou and Todd Hollandsworth followed Sosa in the fifth with back-to-back singles off Eaton. The next batter, Aramis Ramirez, hit a three-run homer, sending Eaton to the showers and putting the Cubs up, 7-2.
Sosa, Alou, Hollandsworth and Ramirez drove in six of Chicago's seven runs. Alou went 4-for-5 with two singles, a double and a home run, just one night after batting 3-fot-4. Hollandsworth had a pair of singles.
Baker was especially pleased with the performance by the middle of the order, considering how pitcher-friendly PETCO Park has played since its opening. Eaton had been pitching fairly well after four innings but got into trouble in the fifth when Jose Macias singled with one out, and two batters later a Sosa popup in foul ground wasn't caught. On the next pitch, Sosa hit one into the record books.
"It was right on time because Eaton was throwing the ball good," Baker said. "That's what their in the middle (of the lineup for)."
Said Sosa: "We know we're going to hit. Sometimes we got through a little bad spot here, a little bad spot there, but Moises picks me up, Aramis picks me up. We're playing some good baseball."
Chicago registered 14 hits in all off San Diego, with seven of the nine starters getting at least one hit. Macias posted his third straight multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with a pair of singles.
Baker said he considered letting Mitre pitch the seventh but opted against the idea because he was up to 95 pitches. The right-hander posted only one 1-2-3 inning, and was visited by pitching coach Larry Rothschild on three separate occasions, including after Mitre was called for a balk in the third inning.
"There were a couple of times when I lost my concentration," Mitre explained. "He (Rothschild) told me, 'Just settle down and stay under control.'"
After Brian Giles tied the score at two, Mitre regained his composure to strike out Phil Nevin to end the inning. The Padres left two runners on base in both the fourth and fifth innings, as Mitre escaped without allowing a run in either frame. The right-hander got Ryan Klesko to ground out to end the fourth and retired his counterpart, Eaton, to close the fifth.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched the final inning and a third to record his third save on the season.