<
>

Sammy had spent month on DL

CHICAGO (AP) -- So much for Sammy Sosa's big homecoming bash.

Sosa went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his first game since
May 15, and Mark Kotsay and Mark Redman led the Oakland Athletics
to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

Kotsay homered and drove in another run, and Redman (5-3) held
the Cubs to four hits and an unearned run in eight innings.

"I'm just happy to be back," Sosa said. "I want to do the
best that I can, but I didn't have any luck today. They pitched me
great. I'll see you tomorrow."

Sosa had a chance to tie the game when he came to the plate with
two outs in the ninth. The sellout crowd of 40,073 rose to its feet
and chanted, "SAM-MEE! SAM-MEE!" But Sosa grounded out to end the
game.

"You guys expect me to hit two or three home runs in one
at-bat. You're talking about over a month I've been out," said
Sosa, who sprained a ligament in his back with two hard sneezes
before the Cubs' game in San Diego on May 16.

"Today was the first game, be patient. I just want to go out
and do the best that I can right now."

And to be fair to Sosa, the rest of the Cubs weren't much better
as their six-game winning streak ended. Chicago managed only an RBI
single by Ramon Martinez, and had just one hit the last four
innings.

The Cubs are 6-10 in one-run games.

"It's tough to lose another one-run game, but what can I say?"
manager Dusty Baker said. "Matty (Clement) threw a great game. If
it hadn't been for Kotsay, they wouldn't have gotten anything."

Clement (7-5) was sharp, allowing seven hits and two runs in
eight innings while striking out eight and walking none. But Kotsay
made all the difference. He went 2-for-4, hitting a solo homer in
the third and an RBI double in the fifth to give the A's their 12th
victory in 16 games.

In the last 19 games, Kotsay is hitting .466 with four homers
and 19 RBI.

He also made a great catch while running back to the wall in the
ninth inning, robbing Aramis Ramirez of a hit.

"The atmosphere and environment make it special. To have a good
game adds to it," Kotsay said. "I hadn't had a lot of success
against Clement. For whatever reason, I felt good at the plate
today. I was really seeing the ball well."

The same can't be said for the Cubs, who were hoping for a boost
with Sosa's return. Chicago went 16-14 without Sosa, and its run
production dropped from 5.1 per game to 4.7.

Fans were thrilled to see him, too, greeting him with a huge
cheer when he took the field before the game. He also got a
standing ovation when he came to the plate in the first inning.

But even with a three-game rehabilitation stint at Double-A West
Tenn earlier in the week, it's going to take Sosa some time to get
his swing back. He struck out swinging in his first at-bat, flied
out to right in the fourth and struck out again in the sixth
inning.

"I've hit, I'm going to hit no matter what," Sosa said. "I'm
just happy to be in the show again. I don't worry about hitting."

Redman was tough on the Cubs last year when he was with Florida,
shutting them out in a regular-season game and giving up seven runs
in two starts -- both no-decisions -- in the NL championship series.

He was just as nasty as the Cubs remembered, holding them to one
hit in the first four innings and retiring 12 straight at one
point. The Cubs got to him in the fifth inning, but they needed
some help from a defensive miscue by the A's.

With Derrek Lee on first and one out, Corey Patterson hit a
grounder to first. Erubiel Durazo threw to second to try to get
Lee, but his throw to shortstop Bobby Crosby was high and wide,
pulling Crosby off the bag and leaving him no chance to make a
play.

Martinez followed with an RBI single to cut Oakland's lead to
2-1. But the Cubs could do little else, and Chad Bradford pitched a
perfect ninth for his first save.

"It's always fun playing here," Redman said. "It's a great
baseball town. You've got to love it. Who wouldn't want to wake up
to pitch in Wrigley? It's a great baseball atmosphere."

Game notes
Oakland INF Mark McLemore left the team to be with his
mother, who was having surgery in Dallas. Manager Ken Macha hopes
McLemore will be back Saturday. ... A's catcher Damian Miller and
first baseman Eric Karros, members of last year's NL Central
champs, got warm receptions in their first trips to the plate. ...
The A's and Cubs' only previous meetings were in the 1910 and 1929
World Series, with the A's taking both in five games.