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Sosa awakens in South Side loss
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06/27/2004  6:11 PM ET 
Sosa awakens in South Side loss
Right fielder produces 65th multihomer game

Greg Maddux yielded a season-high 11 hits in four-plus innings Sunday. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
CHICAGO -- Sammy Sosa hit a pair of home runs, but the Chicago White Sox are the toast of the town -- at least until next weekend's rematch.

Timo Perez and Miguel Olivo each hit home runs to power the White Sox to a 9-4 victory Sunday over Greg Maddux and the mistake-prone Cubs and take the first round of the intracity Interleague series, 2-1.

"The hit men over here were hitting," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

The Cubs will have a chance to reclaim bragging rights when the two meet again July 2-4 at Wrigley Field. The White Sox have a 22-17 edge in the Interleague series, which began in 1997, and reloaded with the addition of pitcher Freddy Garcia and catcher Ben Davis from Seattle.

A little more pressing than civic pride is that the Cubs have lost four of their last five games and now trail St. Louis by five games in the Central Division. Dusty Baker held a team meeting before Sunday's game to address some of the sloppy play.

"We've been playing good baseball," Sosa said. "The other team, every time they're going to play against us, they play hard. We haven't had an easy team lately. We're playing hard and that's all you can do about it, that's all you can ask. We're fighting. The big thing is, it isn't over yet."

When the Cubs started this past week, they were battling the Cardinals for first place.

"There's a lot of baseball left," Sosa said. "We have to continue to win some games. We can't worry about what happens to other teams. We have to take care of ourselves."

Sosa belted a solo home run in the second inning and a two-run shot in the third for his first homers since coming off the disabled list June 18. He has 65 career multihomer games and is tied with San Francisco's Barry Bonds for third on the all-time list. Mark McGwire is second with 67 and Babe Ruth leads with 72.

In his two games as the designated hitter, Sosa was 2-for-7 with four RBIs.

"It was an opportunity," Sosa said. "I had a good day today. I'll be back Tuesday and play right field."

Maddux (6-6) was charged with nine runs -- seven earned -- on a season-high 11 hits over four-plus innings, his second shortest outing this year. He struck out four and walked two. The right-hander remained on hold with 295 career wins.

"Tip your hat. They got me," Maddux said. "I didn't feel like I threw that many pitches over the middle of the plate but the ones I did, they didn't miss. Tip your hat and move on."

"He was up in the zone," Baker said of the right-hander. "We were hoping he would find it."

The Cubs walked 14 in this three-game series, and six of those scored.

"Usually our pitching is better than that," Baker said.

"It happens -- it's no big deal," Maddux said. "It's OK to walk guys. We're trying to get them out, we're not trying to walk them. Walks are part of baseball, it's always been a part of baseball. We've got a stat for it because it happens. Just as long as you're trying to get guys out and pitch 'em not to walk 'em, I think you'll be OK."

Esteban Loaiza (8-3) notched the win, giving up four runs on 10 hits and two walks over six-plus innings. Paul Konerko drove in three runs for the White Sox, who boast the best offense in the American League. It showed.

Konerko, who is batting .359 (14-for-39) in his last 12 games against the Cubs, gave the White Sox a 2-0 lead with a two-run single in the first.

Sosa led off the Cubs second with a towering shot, estimated at 454 feet into the ivy trimmed backdrop in straightaway center. The Cubs then loaded the bases on singles by Aramis Ramirez, Todd Hollandsworth and Ramon Martinez, and Paul Bako reached on a fielder's choice, driving in Ramirez to tie the game.

Sosa said he didn't watch the flight of his monster home run.

"I've been hitting so many, I don't keep track of what happens," Sosa said. "I stayed home for 32 days, and I'm back, I'm trying to get ready at the plate. It's always going to take a couple games before you get back in and get ready."

Olivo snapped the tie with his seventh home run with one out in the White Sox second. Sosa answered again in the Cubs third. Moises Alou walked with one out to set up Sosa, who belted his 12th home run to go ahead, 4-3.

Konerko hit a sacrifice fly in the third and Perez smacked his third home run, a two-run shot, to take a 6-4 lead. Maddux now has served up 17 home runs; he was charged with 24 last year.

Willie Harris singled to start the White Sox fourth, stole second and reached third on Bako's throwing error before scoring on Rowand's ground out. A fielding miscue by Ramirez at third allowed two runs to score in the White Sox fifth.

Cubs outfielder Todd Hollandsworth had to leave the game when he fouled a pitch off his right shin in the third inning. X-rays were negative and Hollandsworth's status was day to day.

This was Maddux's first career start against the White Sox and gave him a first-hand look at the crosstown rivalry.

"I enjoyed it," he said. "Obviously, I wish we would've won two more gmes, but it's fun. It's a good atmosphere. I enjoyed being on the mound today. I thought it was something pretty special to have an opportunity to go through. I would've liked to have pitched better but the overall experience was pretty cool."

And he'll get another taste of it next weekend at Wrigley.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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