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MLBeat: Sosa hits 495th homer
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09/11/2002 1:38 pm ET 
MLBeat: Sosa hits 495th homer
Farnsworth examined as precaution before road trip
By Carrie Muskat /

Sammy Sosa hit his 45th homer of the year Wednesday. (Ted S. Warren/AP)
CHICAGO -- Sammy Sosa snapped out of his hitting funk with one swing Wednesday.

Sosa belted his National League-leading 45th home run of the season with two out in the fifth inning off Montreal's Masato Yoshii to help the Chicago Cubs beat the Expos 6-3. It was career homer No. 495 and he is now five shy of becoming the 18th member of the 500 club.

"I haven't been comfortable at the plate," Sosa said after Wednesday's game. "They've been pitching me very, very good. Today was a great day and hopefully I've started to find myself and I can go up there do the little things that I normally do to help the team win. I've been jumping at the plate and that's something I don't do too often."

The Cubs right fielder entered the game with just six hits in his last 34 at-bats, but went 3-for-4 Wednesday. He had not homered since the second game of a doubleheader Sept. 2 against Milwaukee.

"He's probably trying too hard," Cubs hitting coach Jeff Pentland said before the game.

Is Sosa pressing trying to get to 500?

"I don't really want to think about it," he said. "I just want to be comfortable at the plate. When I'm comfortable it will happen. I just want to take it one day at a time and just get some hits."

He did miss nine games over eight days Aug. 25-Sept. 1 because of soreness in his neck and back but hasn't complained since returning to the lineup.

"He gets his ankles taped and his wrists taped and that's it," Cubs athletic trainer Dave Tumbas said. "I think he'd tell us (if there was a problem).

"He takes days off when there's days off on the schedule and that's it," Tumbas said.

You complete me: The Cubs and Astros Wednesday completed their four-player trade involving Flash Gordon. Aug. 22, the Cubs sent the right-handed reliever to the Astros for minor league left-hander Russ Rohlicek and two players to be named later. The two were identified Wednesday as minor league right-handed pitchers Travis Anderson and Mike Nannini.

Anderson, 24, was the Astros' second-round selection in the 1999 draft out of the University of Washington. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound right-hander spent the 2002 season at Class-A Lexington, appearing in 48 games (two starts) and going 4-5 with eight saves and a 4.46 ERA. He struck out 81 batters over 84 2/3 innings of work.

Nannini, 22, was selected by Houston in the sandwich round between the first and second rounds of the 1998 draft out of Green Valley (Nev.) High School. He spent this season at Double-A Round Rock, pitching in 29 games (24 starts) and going 7-10 with 121 strikeouts and a 5.81 ERA. He was a Baseball America All-Star in 2001 at Class-A Lexington, where he went 15-5 with a 2.70 ERA.

Rohlicek, 22, combined to go 9-7 with a 3.29 ERA in 27 starts for Houston's Class-A Michigan club and the Cubs' Class-A Lansing affiliate.

Aches and pains: Right-handed reliever Kyle Farnsworth was examined by team physician Dr. Michael Schafer on Tuesday as a precautionary measure. Tumbas said they wanted Farnsworth to see the doctor before the team embarked on a 10-game road trip, the last of the season.

Farnsworth has some minor stiffness in his back and his right shoulder, although neither is keeping him from pitching.

"It was really nothing," Tumbas said of Farnsworth's back problems. "As long as I've been here, he's been getting some treatment (on his shoulder)."

Matt Clement, who had to leave Monday's game because of back spasms, was not expected to miss his next start Saturday at Cincinnati but the Cubs expected to know more Thursday.

Smile for the camera: Todd Hundley was one of the early arrivals Wednesday. Hundley was fined for missing Tuesday's team photo, arriving minutes after the photo shoot was completed in center field at Wrigley Field.

"He didn't realize we were having it," Cubs interim manager Bruce Kimm said. "It's been taken care of and it's over with."

"I just completely forgot about it," Hundley said. "(The team photo) was at 4 (p.m.). I got here at 4:05 p.m."

Back to school: Mark Prior will join the team Saturday in Cincinnati. The Cubs rookie pitcher, out for the year because of a sore hamstring, was flying back to Los Angeles to talk to school administrators about taking courses at USC. Prior has five classes remaining to complete his business degree and was hoping to take two this winter.

"That's my goal," he said.

Jason Bere, also out for the season because of a nagging groin injury, also was skipping the Cincinnati portion of the Cubs' three-city trip to return home to his family.

Taking a breather: Moises Alou, Alex Gonzalez and Bobby Hill did not start Wednesday in part because of the weekend in St. Louis. The Cubs played 13 innings Saturday and had an early game Sunday.

"I really pushed those guys to get through the games," Kimm said.

Alou was a little "tender," Kimm said, saying the left fielder wasn't bothered by any specific injury.

Hee Seop Choi, the first Korean position player to make it to the big leagues, got his second start since being called up from Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday. Kimm has to juggle how much time he will use Choi and veteran Fred McGriff, who is two RBIs shy of 1,500 and needs two homers for 30.

"I really want (McGriff) to get to that goal but Choi has to get his at-bats," Kimm said. "From here on, (Choi) will get some playing time."

Dress for success: Montreal manager Frank Robinson asked Cubs relief pitcher Pat Mahomes take off a white undershirt under his blue uniform top when he came in to pitch Tuesday night. Robinson apparently didn't like Mahomes' fashion statement.

"Maybe he's trying to get in my head," Mahomes said.

It didn't work. The right-hander did not give up a hit or a run over 2 1/3 innings, striking out three.

Fantasy Edge: The last time Hee Seop Choi started, he hit his first Major League home run. The 23-year-old rookie first baseman, who batted .287 at Iowa, has had some good swings in his pinch-hit at-bats.

Carrie Muskat covers the Cubs for This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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