Mark McGwire was more excited about his first triple in 11 seasons than home run No. 498.
"They said it'll never be done again and I did it. I will think about retirement after this season," McGwire joked after hitting a pair of high notes in the St. Louis Cardinals' 6-5 victory over the San Diego Padres on Monday night. "I don't clog up the bases, I'll tell you that."
McGwire tied Sammy Sosa for the major-league lead with his 41st homer of the season, and his 14th in 18 games, off Woody Williams with two on in the fifth inning. He has seven RBIs the last two games, is only four homers behind his record 70-homer pace of last year, and is on pace for 63 homers.
But he said 500 homers wasn't that big of a milestone for him.
"There's nothing to feel," McGwire said. "It's going to happen one day. I don't know when."
Although he went into third without a play, McGwire belittled his speed. When a reporter mentioned that he thought McGwire turned it on rounding first base he responded, "Yeah, like a big rig truck. They don't go very fast."
McGwire had four triples his rookie year in 1987 and one in 1988, but had gone 4,618 at-bats since then. It's the longest such streak in major league history.
"I had it and it just came out," Gwynn said. "I really don't know how well he hit it. It just kept going and going."
McGwire scored on a single by Ray Lankford, who eventually scored on a wild pitch after stealing second and going to third on a wild throw from catcher Ben Davis. That gave the Cardinals a 6-2 lead and help them withstand a three-run rally in the ninth by the Padres.
Homers by Reggie Sanders in the sixth and Phil Nevin in the eighth were the only damage against Kent Bottenfield (15-4), who joined Pedro Martinez as baseball's only 15-game winners and won for the first time in four post All-Star break starts. Bottenfield allowed seven hits in eight innings to move one victory ahead of Curt Schilling, Jose Lima and Mike Hampton for the NL lead.
"I've got to try not to focus on that number, but just try to keep us in games," Bottenfield said.
Bottenfield struck out three and walked two, both in the first. Reliever Ricky Bottalico gave up an RBI double to Eric Owens and two-run single to Tony Gwynn in the ninth before Rick Croushore got the final out.
Gwynn went 1-for-5, and now needs five hits to reach 3,000. He's 13-for-53 since coming off the disabled list July 19.
Gwynn said he's been out of sync at the plate, and he wasn't sure how he got his 2,995th hit. He got a standing ovation after leaving for a pinch runner.
"I'll be happy when I can get back to the game," Gwynn said. "The number 3,000 is definitely bigger than me."
Woody Williams (5-9) made his first career appearance against the Cardinals and lasted six innings, allowing four runs on six hits. He also gave up a homer to Ray Lankford in the second and is 1-4 his last six starts.
The Padres, who had a 14-game winning streak earlier this year, have lost 10 of 11.
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