The Dominican Republic star never got close to hitting the four homers he needed to equal McGwire's record of 70, but the Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 5-3 to reach the play-offs for the first time since 1989. "I feel great. It's been unbelievable," Sosa said. "It's something I'll never forget - a dream come true."
Sosa singled and scored two runs to help Chicago win Monday's special one-game showdown for the National League wild card and a date at the East Division champions, Atlanta, today to begin their best-of-five divisional play-off series.
Sosa put his 70-66 homer race defeat to McGwire in perspective, realising second best of all-time is still quite astonishing as both men shattered the previous record, 61 by Roger Maris.
"I've been saying all year that he's `The Man,' but Mark McGwire is going to go home ...and maybe go to the beach. And I'm going to play," said a delighted Sosa while being doused with champagne in the victorious Cubs locker-room.
The Cubs built a five-run lead and survived a tense ninth inning to beat the Giants. Forty-year-old Gary Gaetti hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning and Matt Mieske delivered a two-run single in the sixth for the Cubs, who advanced to the post-season for the first time since 1989.
Sosa had maintained that getting the Cubs into the playoffs was more important to him than winning the home run race. "Today I forgot about the home runs. I just wanted to win and celebrate with all the people of Chicago," said Sosa, who scored Chicago's final run in the eighth innings on a wild pitch by the San Francisco Giants closer, Jose Mesa.