ARLINGTON -- Even with a reduced role, Sammy Sosa continued to show why he won't give up baseball. Sosa crushed a 430-foot, two-run home run in the first inning to give the Rangers an early lead in a 5-3 victory over the Mariners on Sunday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Rangers starter Vicente Padilla backed Sosa's home run with his finest outing since returning from the disabled list, winning his first game since June 15. Sosa's home run, his 17th of the season and first since July 27, came against Mariners left-hander Jarrod Washburn. Sosa entered the game hitting .313 against lefties, and continued that trend, adding a double in the sixth inning to go along with his home run.
"Believe me, I can hit -- it doesn't matter righty or lefty," Sosa, fifth on baseball's all-time home run list, quipped. Sosa's 605th home run came on the same day that he became the third player to hit 50 home runs in a season four times. He accomplished that feat in 2001 with the Cubs, joining Babe Ruth and Mark McGwire.
After the game, Sosa made it clear he would be playing next season."I feel great, I'm definitely going to play [next year]," Sosa said. "If not here, it will be somewhere else." While the Rangers got a much-needed outing from Padilla, Sosa was the story of the game after seeing his playing time drastically reduced this month. "It feels good," Sosa said. "At least I contributed to the game, especially against a team fighting for first place." Powered by Sosa's blast, the Rangers split the four-game series with the Mariners, who are now two games back of the Angels in the American League West. Sosa's contributions, however, have been limited since Aug. 1, when Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington informed Sosa his role would be cut to a reserve outfielder and pinch-hitter. Sosa took the news graciously and has made the most of his limited opportunities. He is hitting .308 in 12 games (39 at-bats) this month. "I'm not going to give up," Sosa said. "I was sitting at home doing nothing, and this organization gave me the opportunity to play. I'm not going to disrespect anybody." The Rangers gave Sosa an opportunity to return this past offseason, and he has provided them with more than expected. He leads the team with 74 RBIs and has mentored the Rangers' young hitters -- Nelson Cruz, Jason Botts and Travis Metcalf. Still, the Rangers are committed to Botts as the future designated hitter. Sosa said he would wait until the end of the season before he decides where he will play next year. "He handled it as professional as you could possibly handle it," Washington said. "When he can play, he does the best he can do. He's not bitter at anyone." While Sosa's home run gave the Rangers an early edge, Padilla silenced the hot-swinging Mariners through the first six innings. After Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with an infield single, Padilla retired 13 consecutive batters before allowing an infield hit. Padilla responded by retiring the next five to get into the seventh inning -- an inning he hasn't pitched in since May 11. The Mariners started the seventh with three consecutive singles by Jose Guillen, Raul Ibanez and Adrian Beltre. Guillen scored on Beltre's single, which marked the end of Padilla's night. Padilla declined to speak with the media after the game. "He really established his fastball tonight and that set up everything else for him," Washington said. "I hope he understands how good his fastball is and how it can make everything else good for him, as well." C.J. Wilson nearly cost Padilla the victory. After Marlon Byrd pushed in two runs with sacrifice flies, and Brad Wilkerson delivered his first triple of the season to score Ian Kinsler and give the Rangers' a four-run lead, Wilson came in to finish the game in the ninth. After retiring the first two batters, Wilson allowed two runs on three straight singles before striking out Yuniesky Betancourt to end the game.
Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.