Sosa on beaning: 'The helmet saved me'

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- For a scary moment, neither the game nor their

excellent start mattered to the Chicago Cubs. Not when Sammy Sosa

was clutching at his broken helmet, a look of fear and anger

crossing his face.

Sammy Sosa was dazed, but OK, after getting beaned by Salomon Torres on Sunday.
Sammy Sosa was dazed, but OK, after getting beaned by Salomon Torres on Sunday.

Sosa got the biggest scare of his career Sunday when he was hit

in the batting helmet by a Salomon Torres fastball, but apparently

wasn't seriously hurt as Cubs lost 8-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The pitch struck Sosa with such force it left a hole in his

batting helmet, but neurological tests were negative. Sosa didn't

even have a headache after the game, only a few cuts caused by his

damaged helmet.

"The helmet saved me,'' said Sosa, who hit his 504th career

homer earlier in the game. "Yeah, I've never gotten hit like that


Torres (2-0), who shares the same Dominican Republic hometown as

Sosa, also was shaken but still pitched five shutout innings in

relief of injured Pittsburgh starter Josh Fogg. Fogg lasted only an

inning because of a strained abdominal muscle.

The Pirates won for only the second time in eight games and

ended the Cubs' five-game winning streak.

Sosa had no chance to duck away from Torres' up-and-in pitch

with the Pirates leading 7-2 in the fourth. Sosa initially glared

at Torres, then clutched at his helmet as he realized what had


Sosa never went down, though he looked dazed as trainer Dave

Tumbas asked him a series of questions. He walked off the field

without help and was examined by Pirates' doctors, then by those at

a nearby hospital. He returned to the clubhouse shortly after the

game ended.

Before the game, Sosa and Torres exchanged greetings near the

Pirates' bullpen and wished each other luck.

"I never meant to hit him,'' said Torres, who was out of

organized baseball for five seasons before joining the Pirates last

season. "I felt very badly about it. We're from the same town and

he's like an idol to me.''

Sosa tied Eddie Murray for 17th place on the career homer list

with his two-run shot in the first off Fogg, who injured an

abdominal muscle while batting in his previous start.

"Once he got on the mound, you could tell he didn't have

anything,'' manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Torres limited the Cubs to one hit through the sixth inning,

only to be lifted himself after being hit in the left knee by Juan Cruz's pitch in the sixth.

"They told me a couple of days ago they might need me for this

game,'' Torres said. "So I paid close attention and really went

over all the hitters in my head as (Saturday night's) game went

along, in case I had to pitch.''

The Pirates, held to three runs or fewer in 12 of their previous

13 games, took advantage of some poor Cubs infield defense and

Shawn Estes' wildness to open the 7-2 lead in the third. Estes

(1-2) allowed seven hits and walked three in three innings.

"We didn't play good defense,'' manager Dusty Baker said. "It

was 5-2 in the second, and it should have been 2-2. I'm

disappointed because we didn't play a very good game.''

Pokey Reese's two-run single -- his only hit of the series -- and

third baseman Mark Bellhorn's two-base error on Torres' bunt keyed

the five-run second. The Pirates scored more runs in the inning

than they did in all but one of their previous 13 games.

The Pirates twice got hits on grounders that second baseman Mark Grudzielanek couldn't make a play on, Reese's single between first

and second and Kenny Lofton's two-run single.

"The baseball gods owed us that,'' Lofton said. "We've been

hitting the ball hard but had nothing to show for it.''

Pittsburgh had been held to nine runs while losing four of their

first five to the Cubs.

Before his big scare, Sosa hit his fifth homer of the season and

475th with the Cubs. It was his fourth homer in nine games and ran

his hitting streak to 10 games. Sosa needs seven homers to tie Mel

Ott for 16th place and eight to tie Ernie Banks and Eddie Matthews

for 14th place.

Game notes

Joe Beimel, Brian Boehringer and Scott Sauerbeck followed

Torres with a scoreless relief inning each. ... The Pirates didn't

commit an error for only the fourth time in 18 games. ...

Pittsburgh is 6-0 when scoring more than four runs. ... Lofton was

2-for-26 in seven games before getting three hits. ... The Cubs

were denied only their second series sweep in two seasons. ...

Estes was the first Cubs starter to lose in six games. ... Reese

had six strikeouts and grounded into a double play in his other

seven at-bats in the series.