Snubbed Sosa hits another HR

Tribune staff reporter

Millions of fans will be in front of their television sets Tuesday night when the All-Star Game is played.

Sammy Sosa won't be one of them.

"I don't want to watch the game," Sosa said Saturday after hitting his 18th home run in the Cubs' 7-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

When the life of the party isn't invited to the party, he can do one of two things—get mad or get even. With seven home runs and 13 RBIs in his last nine games, Sosa appears to be doing the latter.

"I always play like an All-Star," he said. "Maybe not to a lot of people, but I am."

Sosa's towering fly ball into the left-field basket started a six-run fourth inning against Atlanta rookie Horacio Ramirez, and Matt Clement (7-7) pitched eight strong innings to halt the Braves' eight-game winning streak.

With Carlos Zambrano facing Shane Reynolds on Sunday night, the Cubs hope to win two straight for the first time since June 24 in the final game before the All-Star break.

At one game over .500, the Cubs still are a mystery. How should the first half of the season be viewed?

"Those games we lost late, those games hurt," manager Dusty Baker said. "That's the reason why we're close to .500. Our whole thing is that we're like soldiers, trying to get back home to regroup. ... We're playing hard. We miss Corey [Patterson], but Corey is not going to be back.

"There's a lot of ball left. We haven't gotten any breaks. You can't go a whole year without a period of good fortune where everything works.

"With our pitching, we haven't gone two times around [the rotation] with everyone pitching well, which they're capable of doing.

"There are a lot of positive things that can happen to us. Do you force it or do you wait for it to happen? That's the question. Most times when you force things, it makes it worse.

"The main thing is you can't start feeling sorry for yourself. This is not how it's going to be for me. It's hard for me to accept this as it is. You've had many sleepless nights, and nights when that dinner doesn't taste too good."

Baker was able to eat well Saturday thanks to Clement's pitching and a rare big inning from the Cubs—they followed Sosa's leadoff homer with three doubles and a triple in chasing Ramirez (8-3).

In his first year as Cubs manager, Baker is quickly learning that Chicagoans take their baseball very seriously.

"Nobody likes to see their team lose," Baker said. "But they hate to see their team lose here worse than anyplace else I've been, which is fine with me, because they take winning better and take more joy than anyplace I've been too.

"The main thing is what I learned in the military a long time ago: Do not panic. No matter what, there's a way out of every situation."

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