08/11/2002 01:15 am ET
Sosa puts on power display
By Allison Ann Otto / MLB.com
DENVER -- Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa leaned back in his clubhouse chair before Saturday's game against the Colorado Rockies and shook his head in wonderment.
"I admire the guy because I don't know how he does it," Sosa said.
Sosa was talking about San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, who smashed his 600th career homer Friday night, a 421-foot shot off Pittsburgh's Kip Wells.
Not so oddly enough, Sosa could just as easily have been talking about himself, because less than two hours later, Sosa, 33, flaunted a little long-ball display of his own.
Not just once. Not just twice. Try thrice in a 15-1 Cubs win over the Rockies (54-62).
Yep, that's right folks: a holy trinity -- spread over three consecutive innings -- for a career-high nine RBIs.
"Boy! That was something," Cubs interim manager Bruce Kimm said. "He has such great power. It's nice to see, but you think he'll do it again sometime."
Sosa accomplished a record-tying sixth game with at least three home runs and became the fifth player in history, and the first since 1995, to hit home runs in three consecutive innings. The last was Andres Galarraga, who did it for the Rockies on June 25, 1995.
But wait! There's more: Only Hall-of-Famer Johnny Mize, who played with the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants and New York Yankees from 1936 to 1953, had hit three or more homers in a game six times before Sosa accomplished the feat.
All the pitches to Sosa were knee-high fastballs -- and all were three-run shots -- which meant he tied the Cubs' single-game RBI record, set by Heinie Zimmerman on June 11, 1911.
So you don't recall Zimmerman or his moment in the Cubbies' statistical lorebooks? Rest assured, Sosa's night -- especially in this age of information-won't be so easy to overlook.
"I have played with some good players," said left fielder Moises Alou, who hit two home runs. "But I've never played with a power hitter like that before. What he did today doesn't surprise me, though."
It was Sosa's 58th career multi-homer game, the most recent of which occurred just two days ago at San Francisco's Pacific Bell Park.
"No question about it, this year has been a little bit up and down for me," said Sosa. "It hasn't been easy, but when I'm in my groove I'm more relaxed at the plate and I don't see so many bad pitches. That's why you see the difference tonight."
Sosa's first shot, a 490-foot flare to right-center field in the third off Colorado starter Shawn Chacon, staked the Cubs to a 4-0 lead. It was the third longest home run in Coors Field history (the longest -- 496-feet-- was hit by Mike Piazza on Sept. 26, 1997 when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers).
Sosa's second shot off Chacon (5-9, 5.52 ERA) landed 468-feet away in the Rockpile, Coors Field's center-field bleacher seats, and put Chicago up, 8-0.
His third, off reliever Mark Corey, barely cleared the wall in left. But it was enough to send the assembled crowd of 45,474 into a frenzy, chanting "Sammy! Sammy!" until Sosa emerged from the dugout and saluted the throng.
"It was a great feeling," Sosa said. "When the fans show so much appreciation to me, you know you have to earn that. I really feel blessed, because that doesn't happen every day."
But with a chance to make history and accomplish his first four-homer game, Sosa left the game in the bottom of the sixth.
"I really had enough," Sosa said. "I went 3-for-4 with nine RBI and that was good enough for me. I believe for myself and at the level that I am, that respect is part of this game. We were winning 15-1. I mean, come on."
Extra bases: Right-handed starter Mark Prior (6-3, 3.26 ERA) tossed six innings while allowing just one run. The 21-year old rookie also fanned eight, just two shy of tallying his third consecutive double-digit strikeout performance. "Heck, I've really got nothing to say," Prior said. "The offense did everything that I needed for the game." ... Fred McGriff was 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the third that rode the coattails of Sosa's first shot ... Alou's multi-homer night was his third this year and the 22nd of his career. He also tied his career high with four hits.
Allison Ann Otto is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or any of its clubs.