Sammy Sosa is "Slammin' Sammy" once again.
Sosa hit two homers to reach 594 for his career, but Paul Byrd and the Cleveland Indians beat the visiting Texas Rangers yesterday, 9-4, for their fifth straight win.
Sosa's 439-foot drive leading off the sixth inning against Byrd (2-1) made Jacobs Field the 44th major league ballpark in which he has homered. That broke a tie with Ken Griffey Jr. and Fred McGriff for the most in a big-league career.
"It's nice to have that record, but if we had won I would have enjoyed it more," Sosa said.
He obtained the record-setting ball by signing two baseballs for the fan who got it in the leftfield bleachers.
Sosa has six homers and 18 RBI, but he's hitting only .239 in 19 games since sitting out all of 2006. He said he still hasn't got his timing back after the long layoff.
"The more I play, the more adjustments I can make," he said. "If you talk about getting hot, I'm not there yet.''
Byrd was wary of pitching to Sosa with or without runners on base.
"You still don't want to elevate a fastball to him," Byrd said. "On the homer, I was trying to go inside, left it up and away and knew where it was headed as soon as he swung."
The only stadiums currently in use that the 38-year-old outfielder has not hit a homer in are RFK Stadium in Washington and the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Sosa went deep again in the eighth against Tom Mastny to move closer to joining Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays in the 600 homers club. It was his 69th career multihomer game.
In other games:
* At New York, A.J. Burnett outclassed prized Yankees prospect Phil Hughes as Toronto rolled to a 6-0 win.
Hughes, making his big-league debut, was no match for Burnett as the Yankees lost their sixth game in a row.
Derek Jeter, who has a 14-game hitting streak, was a late scratch from the New York lineup because of a sore left thigh.
* At Baltimore, Wily Mo Pena hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, Josh Beckett (5-0) became the majors' first five-game winner, and Boston rallied to beat the Orioles, 5-2. Pena came into the game batting .120.
* At Anaheim, Bartolo Colon struck out 11 and Vladimir Guerrero homered during a five-run first inning in the Angels' 11-3 rout of Tampa Bay.
* At Minneapolis, Mike Redmond hit a run-scoring single in the 11th inning and the Twins snapped a four-game losing streak with a 1-0 win over Kansas City.
* At Oakland, Jose Lopez hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning and Seattle defeated the A's, 4-2.
* At Chicago, the game between the White Sox and Detroit was postponed because of rain. No makeup date was announced. *