- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 2, 2001


ATLANTA (AP) Sammy Sosa refused to gloat about his 53rd homer.
"As a player, I'm really not allowed to do that," Sosa said. "If you want to, be my guest."
Sosa hit a 471-foot shot off Greg Maddux that was the longest ever at Turner Field, and the Chicago Cubs handed the Braves their third straight loss 5-3 yesterday.
"I just don't want to make much of it because that's the way I am," Sosa said. "I'm just glad it helped my teammates relax and give them some confidence against a great pitcher."
The Cubs won their fourth in a row. They started the day with a 1?-game lead over San Francisco in the wild-card race.
The Braves lost for the 13th time in their last 17 home games. Atlanta's loss, coupled with Philadelphia's win, put the two teams in a tie atop the NL East.
Sosa hit a two-run homer in the first inning, connecting on a 3-2 pitch from Maddux (17-8).
In his 16-year career, Maddux could recall only one batter, Jack Clark, hitting him harder.
"I was trying to locate a pitch down and in," Maddux said. "I was trying to get him to hit a grounder. He's far too good a hitter to throw him one down the middle, and that's what I did."
Sosa drew intentional walks the next two times he faced Maddux. Sosa has gotten 32 intentional walks this season, tying Kevin Mitchell's record set in 1989 for the most by a right-handed hitter in major league history. Willie McCovey set the overall mark of 45 in 1969.
The Braves' strategy worked in the third, as Fred McGriff grounded into a double play. In the fifth, it backfired when Sosa scored Chicago's final run on Ricky Gutierrez's two-run double.
"I'm sure they were trying to play the percentages," said Cubs manager Don Baylor, who was Atlanta's hitting coach in 1999. "He's a guy who can beat you with one swing of the bat. He hit that back wall. In this park, that's absolutely unreal."
Maddux allowed nine hits, five runs and two walks in seven innings.
Since going 10-0 with a 2.45 ERA from June 5 to July 27, Maddux is 3-3 with a 4.44 ERA in his last seven starts. The right-hander struck out six, moving past Christy Mathewson for 22nd on the career list with 2,509.
"I didn't locate my pitches well enough," Maddux said. "It's not about runs. It's about locating pitches."
Julian Tavarez (9-9) allowed three runs in five innings. In his previous outing, he retired only one batter while giving up seven hits and five runs.
Tavarez won for the first time since July 29, when he beat St. Louis 7-5. He went 0-3 in August with a 7.94 ERA.
"That's why Tavarez pitched five," Baylor said.
Braves center fielder Andruw Jones, who singled and scored in the fourth, thought Atlanta missed a chance to chase Tavarez early. Jones went 1-for-4 to leave his average at .196 since July 3.
"The way things have been going the last two days," Jones said, "they score in the first inning and then we try to do too much to get back into the game."
Tom Gordon pitched the ninth for his 27th save. With runners on first and second, he struck out Julio Franco to end the game.
Franco went 0-for-4 with a walk in his Braves' debut. At 40, the former All-Star joined Atlanta a day earlier after leading the Mexican League with a .437 average.
Chipper Jones had an infield RBI single in the first. He hit his 33rd homer in the fifth to bring the Braves within 5-3.
Corey Patterson's sacrifice fly made it 3-1 in the Cubs' fourth. Gutierrez's double in the fifth put Chicago up 5-2.

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