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Big Mac Smacks 39th, Rockies

Mark McGwire is closing in on his 500th homer, which seems to be a big deal for everyone but the St. Louis slugger.

"I'm not going to sit here and analyze anything," McGwire said after hitting No. 496 in the Cardinals' 6-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies Saturday night. "See the ball, you hit it, and try to get as many hits as you can."

McGwire has 12 homers in his last 16 games and 39 overall, one behind major league leader Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs. Sosa hit two homers Saturday in a 17-10 victory over the New York Mets.

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Game Summary

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  • "I think he's aware of it, and I also think he knows he's seeing the ball good and he's thinking good," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's proven when he does that, he keeps cranking."

    The teams combined for five homers in the third inning, tying a major league record that's been accomplished 19 times.

    Todd Helton, Dante Bichette and Vinny Castilla homered in a four-batter span in the top of the third to put Colorado ahead 4-0. The Cardinals answered with back-to-back homers by McGwire and Fernando Tatis to cut the gap to 4-3.

    McGwire tied his own record of 219 homers in four consecutive seasons. He also did it from 1995-98.

    In addition to his two-run shot in the third, Helton hit a solo homer in the ninth to increase his season total to 19. It was his third multihomer game of the year and fifth of his career.

    Tatis went 3-for-3 with two walks and three RBIs.

    J.D. Drew, who had three hits and scored three times, scored the tying run in the fourth when he singled and scored on Tatis' single. He gave the Cardinals a 5-4 lead with a homer in the sixth off Curtis Leskanic (3-2).

    "I didn't think it had a chance," Drew said. "I don't know if it's the hot weather or what it is, but I'm glad it's carrying a little bit."

    Drew doubled in the eighth and scored on Tatis' single to make it 6-4.

    Helton led off the ninth with a homer off Ricky Bottalico to cut St. Louis' lead to 6-5. But Bottalico got the final three outs for his 17th save as the Rockies' four-game road winning streak came to an end.

    Left fielder Ray Lankford threw Helton out at the plate in the seventh. Helton was trying to score from second on Dante Bichette's single.

    "When he threw it, I said `No, No,'" La Russa said. "I said `Yeah, Yeah,' after that."

    Cardinals starter Larry Luebbers lasted 5 2-3 innings and gave up four runs on eight hits. Lance Painter (3-4) worked two-thirds of an inning.

    Colorado's Bobby Jones gave up four runs on six hits in 3 2-3 innings, and has allowed 10 runs in 13 2-3 innings to St. Louis in his career.

    "I stink when I pitch to this team," Jones said. "It's just one of those teams that has somebody's number."


  • McGwire and Tatis are the top home run tandem in the major leagues with 63, five more than Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez of Seattle. McGwire has hit 481 homers as a first baseman, second on the all-time list behind behind Lou Gehrig (493).
  • Shawon Dunston snapped an 0-for-24 slump that had dropped his average to .301 when he singled to lead off the St. Louis second. He finished 2-for-4.
  • The Rockies have homered in 12 of their last 13 road games, totaling 23 in that span.
  • The Rockies have had back-to-back homers six times this year, and Bichette has been involved in five of them.

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