Mark McGwire and the St. Louis Cardinals are coming up just short.
Steve Woodard won his career-high sixth straight decision and the Milwaukee Brewers kept McGwire in the ballpark - barely - for a 6-5 victory over the Cardinals on Monday night.
Since hitting his 45th home run against Milwaukee at Busch Stadium last Tuesday, McGwire has gone 22 at-bats without homering. He went 1-for-4 with a double in his first visit to County Stadium.
"I think he probably knocked a hole in our fence out there tonight," Brewers manager Phil Garner said.
Actually, even McGwire's double didn't do any damage.
McGwire fouled out and struck out before snapping an 0-for-17 skid in the fifth with a line-drive double off the padding in left field, about a foot short of the yellow home run rail.
McGwire was stranded there, then struck out in the eighth, prompting many in the crowd of 31,659 10,331 above the season average to head for the exits.
They missed Gary Gaetti's two-run homer with one out in the ninth off Bob Wickman, which cut the Brewers' lead to 6-5. Wickman retired the next two batters for his 18th save in 21 chances.
"It just doesn't count that they made a comeback because it was too short," Garner said.
Just like McGwire's attempt at homer No. 46.
"There's nothing worth talking about," McGwire said. "I hit it and ran to second."
"Last time I pounded the zone in on him and this time I pounded the zone outside, made him chase a couple of bad pitches," said Woodard, who has beaten St. Louis twice in the last week, striking out 20 in 12 1-3 innings.
Garner said his pitchers have gotten the best of McGwire by throwing the ball "just out of his happy zone."
Woodard (9-5), who gave up three runs on five hits in six-plus innings, didn't keep the ball in the park all night. He gave up a two-run homer to Ron Gant in the second and a solo shot to Ray Lankford who was later ejected in the fourth.
Darren Oliver (6-8), making his Cardinals debut after his trade from Texas on Friday, gave up six runs, three of them earned, on nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. One of the hits was Jeromy Burnitz's 26th homer of the season, a two-run shot that snapped a 3-3 tie in the fifth.
Gant, starting in place of ailing Brian Jordan, hit his 17th homer for a 2-0 lead in the second.
After Milwaukee scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the second to take a 3-2 lead, Lankford sent Woodard's first pitch of the fourth 416 feet into the right-field bleachers for his 19th homer and a 3-3 tie.
But Lankford was ejected by home plate umpire Greg Bonin for arguing a called strike in the sixth.
Third-base coach Rene Lachemann was ejected by third-base umpire Randy Marsh for arguing abouLankford's ejection. Willie McGee replaced Lankford with a 1-2 count and struck out on his second pitch.
The delay lasted six minutes.
Lankford said he told Bonin to "call it both ways," and that Marsh told him to grow up, to which he responded: "What did I do that was childish? I'm fighting for our pitcher."
But six minutes?
"They shouldn't allow it to go on that long," Garner said. "I can't imagine what they're talking about that takes that much time."
Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa, who met with Bonin in the umpires dressing room for several minutes following the game, declined to discuss the ejection.
"It's not even part of the game, so it's not worth talking about," he said.
LaRussa pulled a double-switch in the sixth. But after informing Bonin of the move, he returned to the dugout without going to get Oliver, who unaccustomed to the NL's double-switches to begin with stood alone on the mound as reliever Curtis King trotted in from the bullpen.
Finally, pitching coach Dave Duncan hustled out to take the ball from Oliver and hand it to King, who promptly gave up a run-scoring single to Mark Loretta that made it 6-3.
©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed