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Sosa, Johnson keep moving at fast pace

The Associated Press

No one has ever homered at the pace Sammy Sosa is setting this year, and no one has ever struck out 300 batters as fast as Randy Johnson.

Friday, August 27, 1999

No one has ever homered at the pace Sammy Sosa is setting this year, and no one has ever struck out 300 batters as fast as Randy Johnson.

Sosa hit his major league-leading 53rd home run Thursday, and the Chicago Cubs rallied from five runs down to beat the San Francisco Giants 11-10.

”It’s not for me to think about the race,” said Sosa, who is four games ahead of Mark McGwire’s record-setting pace last season. ”All I can do is go out and be patient.”

Johnson reached 300 strikeouts in record time, notching nine in seven innings to help the streaking Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Florida Marlins 12-2.

Johnson (14-8) achieved the milestone in his 29th start. The previous best was Pedro Martinez, who reached 300 in 31 appearances in 1997.

”It’s a special achievement,” Johnson said. ”My primary goal is to put us in a position to win, but anything that comes with that is great.”

In Montreal, Vladimir Guerrero hit a two-run homer in his second at-bat to extend his hitting streak to 31 games – the longest in the majors in 12 years – in the Expos’ 10-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Cubs 11, Giants 10

The Cubs trailed 7-2 after three innings before rallying behind Sosa and Mark Grace, who hit consecutive solo homers in the fifth inning.

Sosa, who has 10 homers in the last 12 games, connected on a 1-1 pitch from Livan Hernandez in the fifth. Sosa is nine games ahead of last year’s pace, when he hit No. 53 in the Cubs’ 135th game and ended with 66.

”It’s easy this year after last year and everything I’ve been through,” Sosa said of the attention. ”This is a piece of cake.”

After Grace tied it with a two-run single in the eighth, the Cubs won the game in the bottom of the ninth. Jeff Reed hit a leadoff double off Robb Nen (3-7), and two outs later, Mickey Morandini doubled.

Terry Adams (5-3) pitched one scoreless inning.

Diamondbacks 12, Marlins 2

Damian Miller hit a grand slam to cap Arizona’s team-record eight-run ninth. Matt Williams drove in four runs with two singles, a double and a sacrifice fly. Tony Womack had two hits and a walk, two stolen bases and three runs scored.

The NL West-leading Diamondbacks extended their winning streak to six games and completed a three-game sweep at Florida, which has lost six in a row.

Johnson reached 300 strikeouts with his eighth of the game against Kevin Millar to end the fifth.

”If I had to face Randy Johnson every night, I probably wouldn’t be here,” said Millar, who struck out in all three of his at-bats.

Johnson, who also achieved the 300-strikeout milestone in 1993 and 1998, joins Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax as the only pitchers to reach the 300 mark three times. Ryan had a record six 300 seasons.

”I don’t know if everybody grasps the type of achievement that is,” Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter said. ”We’re all lucky to be here to see it.”

Pirates 8, Rockies 4

Brian Giles drove in four runs as the host Pirates roughed up Colorado ace Pedro Astacio for six runs in the first two innings.

Al Martin had three hits and two RBIs to back rookie left-hander Jimmy Anderson (2-1), who retired the first 10 hitters before being lifted after 5 2-3 innings in his third career start.

Astacio (14-10) had won four consecutive decisions and lasted at least seven innings in his previous eight starts, only to yield six runs and seven hits in two innings.

Padres 4, Brewers 3

Reggie Sanders hit a go-ahead, two-run triple in the seventh inning to back Andy Ashby and lift San Diego to victory.

The Padres, outscored 33-3 by the Phillies in the last two games of their six-game road trip, got seven strong innings from Ashby (12-7) in their return home. Trevor Hoffman earned his 33rd save.

Rocky Coppinger (2-2) took the loss.