Notes and Quotes

Cubs pitchers had troubles with Houston's new center fielder Carlos Beltran, who hit .462 in a three-game series against the Cubs with four homers and six RBI. The Astros traded for Beltran on June 24, and he burned the Cubs a week later.

"Boy, Beltran might be one of the best total players in the game," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "There's nothing he can't do. He was certainly a thorn in our side. I wish they would have waited a week to trade for him -- it would have made life a lot easier on us."

--LHP Kent Mercker gave up a three-run game-tying homer on Thursday (July 1) in the eighth inning against Houston to deny Mark Prior of a victory. But Mercker was let off the hook when Sammy Sosa belted a game-winning homer in the 10th.

"I wouldn't have gotten a good night's sleep for about three or four nights if we lost this one," Mercker said. "Mark was awesome and pitched his butt off. I ruined it for him with one pitch. A terrible pitch. Sammy picked me up even bigger than he knows. But I just feel bad for Mark because I blew his day. But this is what winners are made of. You take a blow, you come back and you win late. That's the beauty of the game."

--Class A Daytona's Brandon Sing hit his 25th home run on Wednesday (June 30) to break a franchise record originally set by Ron Walker in 1996. Sing is eyeing the Florida State League mark of 33 homers, set in 1951.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- Extra-inning walk-off homers by Sammy Sosa, which ties a team record originally set by Ron Santo. Sosa hit his fifth on Thursday (July 1) in the 10th inning against Houston.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "In my mind (missing) anything less than two months is a glorious celebration." -- Outfielder Todd Hollandsworth, who injured the same right shin that knocked him out of the 2001 season in the second month.

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