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Big Mac Quiet In Cards-Mets Split


Mark McGwire did not get any closer to Roger Maris in this doubleheader.
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Cardinals 10-Mets 5, Game 1:

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    Mets 1-Cardinals 0, Game 2:

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    Forum: Will pitchers keep shying away from McGwire?

  • After getting a pinch-hit, RBI double in a 10-5 first-game victory over the New York Mets, McGwire struck out three times and walked as the St. Louis Cardinals lost the second game 1-0.

    McGwire, who homered twice Wednesday and two more times in Thursday's doubleheader to reach 51, has 34 games remaining to reach Maris' record of 61.

    Thousands among the sellout crowd of 52,320 came out early to watch McGwire take batting practice, and he put on a show by homering on his first 11 swings, sending some balls over the visitors' bullpen and others over the left-field bleachers. He homered on 12 of 15 pitches overall.

    He didn't start for just the ninth time in 128 games this season, but pinch-hit for the second time this year, driving in a run off Mel Rojas in the ninth.

    Against Armando Reynoso (5-0) in the second game, he walked in the first inning, struck out swinging in the third and took called third strikes in the fifth and seventh. The walk was McGwire's major-league-leading 134th, leaving him 36 short of the record Babe Ruth set in 1923.

    Before the doubleheader, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa pleaded for opposing pitchers not to walk him.

    "He has to be challenged," La Russa said. "Pitchers have to go after im and try to get him out. If that happens, he has a shot."

    Reynoso won his fifth consecutive start since coming off the disabled list, allowing three hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts and six walks. Turk Wendell pitched the eighth and John Franco finished for his 28th save.

    Edgardo Alfonzo's 10th homer of the season came in the first inning against Manny Aybar (3-7), activated between games. Aybar, in the minors since July 14, gave up three hits in five innings.

    New York, which played seven games in a four-day span, dropped into a tie in the wild-card race with the Chicago Cubs, who rallied in the ninth inning to beat San Francisco 6-5.

    In the opener, Matt Morris (4-3) shut down the Mets for seven innings and hit a tiebreaking single. Morris, a native of Middletown, N.Y., allowed two runs and six hits, striking out six and walking two.

    He had a very vocal group of about 60 family and friends watching, most from behind the plate.

    "I think some of them got thrown out," Morris said.

    He left with a 6-2 lead, but New York loaded the bases in the eighth against Lance Painter and closed within a run off Rick Croushore. St. Louis then blew it open with four runs against Rojas.

    Hideo Nomo (5-11) lost his third start in a row, giving up five runs and five hits in five-plus innings. He struck out eight and walked six.

    "I can't believe watching him how close he is," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "He just can't get the momentum going in the right direction."

    Valentine let Greg McMichael and Rojas get banged around for six runs in four innings. He also rested Mike Piazza and didn't use him as a pinch-hitter.

    "I tried to squeak by both ways -- with the batting order and the pitching - and it didn't work," Valentine said.

    Ron Gant homered in the second -- giving the Cardinals four players with 20 or more for the first time -- and Willie McGee had an RBI single in the fifth.

    Lenny Harris hit a two-run homer in the bottom half -- his second in 200 at-bats this season -- but the Mets immediately gave back the lead in the sixth when Morris hit a go-ahead single, third baseman Matt Franco botched a rundown with a late throw to the plate and Brian Jordan hit an RBI single. Placido Polanco hit a run-scoring grounder in the eighth.

    Notes

  • The Mets went 4-2 in three doubleheaders this week.
  • McGwire grounded out as a pinch-hitter in a loss to Cincinnati on July 14. St. Louis is 4-5 when he doesn't start.
  • Mets outfielder Butch Huskey was sent to Triple-A Norfolk on a rehabilitation assignment and went 1-for-4 with two RBI.
  • Todd Hundley struck out in each game and has 46 in 104 at-bats since returning from reconstructive elbow surgery.
  • Croushore was optioned to Triple-A Memphis between games.

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