CINCINNATI (AP) — Sammy Sosa hit a grand slam for his 599th career homer Friday night, taking another little hop toward history while leading the Texas Rangers to a 7-6 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The 38-year-old slugger is one homer away from a mark that only four others have reached — Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. He ended an 18-game homer drought with his first grand slam since Sept. 15, 2004.
Slammin’ Sammy took his customary hop in the fifth inning after the ball left his bat and headed for right field, where Ken Griffey Jr. briefly gave chase before pulling up and watching Sosa’s latest memorable moment in Cincinnati.
Sosa also hit his 500th — again, to right field — four games after Great American Ball Park opened in 2003. He sat out last season before the Rangers, who gave him his start in baseball and then traded him away as a scrawny rookie, provided a chance to resume his chase.
His ninth career grand slam off Matt Belisle (5-5) was the most decisive of four homers in a game matching the AL’s worst starting rotation and the NL’s worst bullpen. Ramon Vazquez also homered for the Rangers, and David Ross and Adam Dunn homered off Vicente Padilla (3-8), who got his first road win.
Eric Gagne retired the side in the ninth and remained perfect in seven save chances this season.
The interleague game united two of baseball’s most accomplished home run hitters — Sosa and Griffey —and two of its worst teams. The Rangers have the American League’s worst record at 25-42, while the Reds are at the bottom of the National League at 26-42.
With little at stake in the standings, the focus was on whether the two chart-climbing sluggers could deliver.