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BASEBALL EXTRA | ROUNDUP

McGwire Comes Up With 55th Homer

September 25, 1997|From Associated Press

Mark McGwire loves hitting home runs--but hates seeing the St. Louis Cardinals lose.

So part of the pleasure of hitting No. 55 Wednesday night was dampened as the Cardinals lost to the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4, at St. Louis.

"That's why we're here--to win the game," said McGwire, whose blast moved him within six of Roger Maris' single-season record of 61. "Individual stuff is only good at the end of the season."

McGwire began the night one home run behind Seattle's Ken Griffey in their battle for the major-league lead. McGwire then narrowly missed a homer in the first, when right fielder Reggie Sanders backed up against the fence to catch a towering drive to right.

But McGwire cleared the fence with a two-run homer in the fifth inning on a 1-1 pitch from Dave Burba. He said it was an inside fastball--a "good pitch"--but had little else to say about it or his chase for 61.

"There's not much to talk about," he said. "What else does the public want to know that hasn't been said?"

The Cardinals have four games remaining, one against the Reds tonight and three at home against the Chicago Cubs Friday through Sunday.

McGwire hit 52 homers last season. His 107 over the past two years broke Jimmie Foxx's two-season record for right-handed batters.

He was underwhelmed with that. But the achievement impressed Manager Tony La Russa, who rarely sees anything good in a loss.

"When you place yourself ahead of Jimmie Foxx, it might be enough to place the team loss secondary," he said. "Probably is."

Chicago 3, Houston 1--The Astros missed an opportunity to clinch the Central title but a ninth-inning rally failed at Houston.

Their magic number was cut to one when second-place Pittsburgh lost to the New York Mets, assuring the Astros at least a tie. A big cheer went up from the Astrodome crowd of 41,560 when the outfield scoreboard showed the Mets' six-run sixth inning that produced a 7-1 lead.

The Astros can win the title with a victory over the Cubs today. If not, they finish with three games at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Brooks Kieschnick and Tyler Houston hit solo home runs for the Cubs.

The Astros tried to rally in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs. But Terry Adams got pinch-hitter Sean Berry on a grounder for his 18th save.

New York 7, Pittsburgh 5--The Mets used a six-run sixth inning at New York, highlighted by John Olerud's grand slam, to put the Pirates on the brink of elimination in the Central.

Pittsburgh--one of the surprise teams despite its $9 million payroll, by far the lowest in the majors--is 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Houston Astros after losing for the 18th time in 29 outings.

In order to force a one-game playoff, the Pirates must hope the Astros lose to the Cubs today and then sweep the three-game series at Houston.

A night after the Mets were eliminated from the wild-card race, Manager Bobby Valentine rested many of his regulars.

Florida 10, Montreal 9--Three Expo errors keyed a seven-run first inning for the Marlins at Montreal.

Florida, which clinched the NL wild card Tuesday, played without a regular in its starting lineup. But the Marlins still sent 13 men to the plate in the first, getting five hits and three walks and knocking Expo starter Carlos Perez out after one-third of an inning.

Perez lost his third consecutive start in the shortest outing of his career. He is 1-7 in 10 starts since Aug. 2 and 12-13 overall.

Russ Morman, a 35-year-old who has spent parts of nine seasons in the majors, hit his 10th career home run, and his first since 1995, off Perez in the first for a 4-0 lead. He also doubled in the seventh.

Morman led the International League with 33 home runs at Charlotte this season before being recalled from triple-A on Sept. 7.

Philadelphia 5, Atlanta 1--With the Braves resting most of their regulars after clinching the East title, Garrett Stephenson pitched a four-hitter for the Phillies at Philadelphia.

Stephenson (8-6) allowed only two runners past first base in his second complete game of the season. His other complete game also was against Atlanta, an 8-1 victory on July 15.

The right-hander retired the first 11 batters before Randall Simon hit a shot back to the mound, which glanced off Stephenson's right arm for an infield hit. He struck out three and walked three.

Stephenson lost his shutout in the ninth inning when Greg Myers drove in a run with a groundout.

In his last seven starts, Stephenson is 4-1 with a 1.86 ERA.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BESTS OF THE DAY

BATTING

Player: John Olerud

Team: New York

Performance: Grand slam, 5 RBIs

Team's Result: Win

*

Player: Joe Randa

Team: Pittsburgh

Performance: 4 for 5, 2 RBIs

Team's Result: Loss

*

Player: Steve Finley

Team: San Diego

Performance: 3 for 5, home run, 2 RBIs, 1 run

Team's Result: Win

*

Player: Tyler Houston

Team: Chicago

Performance: 3 for 4, 2 runs, 1 RBI

Team's Result: Win

PITCHING

Player: G. Stephenson

Team: Philadelphia

Performance: 9 innings, 4 hits, 1 run

Team's Result: Win

*

Player: Joey Hamilton

Team: San Diego

Performance: 8 innings, 5 hits, 1 run

Team's Result: Win

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