CHICAGO — Sunday was Sammy Sosa Day at Wrigley Field, but it wasn't Sammy Sosa's day--or weekend.
With friends, relatives, Roger Maris' six children and dignitaries from his native Dominican Republic on hand to honor him, Sosa went 0 for 5 in the Cubs' 7-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds before a disappointed crowd of 40,117 at the Cubs' home finale. Sosa is 0 for 17 with six strikeouts and hasn't hit the ball out of the infield since his last home run.
Sosa has gone four games without a home run and remained at 63, two behind Mark McGwire, with five games left. In the other key race, the Cubs slipped a game behind the Mets for the National League wild-card playoff berth.
Eager to satisfy his fans on his special day, "I probably have to say I try to do too much," Sosa acknowledged. "Maybe that's one of the reasons [for his fruitless day]. Also, they pitched me real well.
"People keep telling me about pressure. Anybody can have a bad game. I'm 0 for 17. I do my job all year, but I cannot do it alone. What happened to me could happen to anybody. I have a bad weekend, and I'm a human being like everybody else."
The superhuman effort Sunday came from Cincinnati second baseman Bret Boone, who had the first three-home run game of his career and drove in six runs. Boone's final homer, a two-run drive down the left-field line in the eighth inning, was hotly disputed by the Cubs. Replays appeared to show it landed in fair territory, but third base umpire Harry Wendelstedt was unmoved by the Cubs' arguments.
"I didn't know if it was fair or foul. I still don't," said Boone, who took a few steps up the line and returned toward home plate, thinking the ball was foul, before seeing Wendelstedt signal a home run. "I just ran around the bases as fast as I could."
Boone's performance gave him a hint of what Sosa and McGwire have experienced all season, and he has emerged with great respect for the duo. "It's unbelievable how well Sammy and Mark have handled this. It's got to be as stressful as you could imagine," said Boone, who has hit 23 homers. "People want to see a home run every day."
Although Sosa couldn't hit one Sunday, all wasn't lost. His take from Sunday's tribute included a sports car, a painting and a telegram from McGwire, who hit his 65th home run around the time Sosa was taking a lap around the field to thank the fans. Sosa also got a phone call from Michael Jordan. "He called me collect," Sosa said, "and I accepted."
Sosa also accepted the burden of getting the Cubs back into playoff position. They resume play Tuesday with the first of two games at Milwaukee--a team Sosa has victimized for 10 home runs--and finish with three games at Houston.
"I'm confident in myself and I feel as far as the last five games, I'm going to do much better and I'm going to help the team win," Sosa said.