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Cardinals Walk Past Arizona


For perhaps the first time since the joined the St. Louis Cardinals two years ago, Mark McGwire walked and the crowd didn't boo the pitcher.

That's because McGwire took four straight high fastballs with the bases loaded in the 10th inning Saturday for a 2-1 victory over the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks.

After a rare plate appearance in which he was cheered for keeping the bat on his shoulder, McGwire hopes the tradition of jeering the pitcher would go away.

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  • "I wish they wouldn't boo," he said. "Last year is over with and this is a new year, and last year is not happening. So you don't need to do what they did last year."

    Darren Bragg and Edgar Renteria walked off Byung-Hyun Kim (0-1) in the 10th and J.D. Drew reached on a two-out infield hit off Dan Plesac.

    McGwire, who had two homers and five RBIs Friday night, never got a chance to swing against rookie Vicente Padilla. McGwire was taking on 3-0 and said he would have taken two strikes.

    "There was nowhere to put me, so you have to assume he's going to be aggressive," McGwire said. "They were all fastballs, they were just high."

    It was a tough spot for the 21-year-old right-hander, who began the season in Class A and got his first major league out Friday night.

    "The harder you try to put the ball in a certain spot, the more difficult it becomes," Padilla said.

    A day after getting 15 singles in a 9-5 victory, the Diamondbacks' offensive slump was back on. They've totaled 10 runs and 32 hits in the other seven games of a stretch that began June 25 with a 1-0, no-hit loss to the Cardinals' Jose Jiminez.

    "The last two weeks we haven't hit nearly as well as we did in the first two months," said Jay Bell, who was 1-for-5. "Hopefully our good pitching continues and we find a way to get the extra run to get us over the top."

    Arizona, which has played the most extra-inning games in the majors, dropped to 7-8 in extras. St. Louis has won six of eight extra-inning games, including two of three against the Diamondbacs.

    Lance Painter (1-4) gave up a walk in a scoreless 10th as five St. Louis pitchers combined on a four-hitter. Rookie Joe McEwing extended his hitting streak to 24 games the longest in the NL since Jerome Walton hit in 30 straight for the Chicago Cubs in 1989.

    The Diamondbacks got away with two base-running gaffes to tie it in the ninth on a two-base error by catcher Alberto Castillo. After Jay Bell singled and Luis Gonzalez doubled off Ricky Bottalico, the Cardinals caught both on separate rundowns.

    But Castillo, who entered the game in the eighth, tried to pick off Tony Womack between first and second after making the tag on Gonzalez and threw wildly to McEwing, who was chasing Womack back to first. Matt Williams wound up scoring from second.

    "That's a tough pass to throw," said manager Tony La Russa, who was able to laugh about it. "That's why those quarterbacks make so much money."

    Cardinals starter Kent Mercker allowed two hits in five scoreless innings. Mercker, who had an 8.20 ERA when he was banished to the bullpen in mid-May, has a 3.38 ERA in four starts since returning to the rotation. He is winless since April 20.

    Diamondbacks starter Armando Reynoso allowed one run and two hits in seven innings and has give up just two runs and six hits in his last 15 innings against St. Louis.

    McEwing's third-inning single drove in Eli Marrero. McEwing is 34-for-106 (.321) during the streak, the longest by a Cardinals player since Lou Brock hit in 26 straight in 1971.

    "It may sound boring, but I try to go out there and take the same approach every at-bat," McEwing said. "I just go out there and battle, and see what happens."

    Notes:

  • Cardinals outfielder Ray Lankford was scratched about an hour before the game due to soreness in his midsection.
  • La Russa got his 1,603th win, breaking a tie with Fred Clarke for 12th on the career list. Next up is Ralph Houk with 1,619.
  • McEwing leads NL rookies with 29 multihit games.
  • The Diamondbacks are 2-6 at Busch Stadium.
  • The Diamondbacks have hit only two homers in the last 11 games, but entered the game first in the league with 107.
  • Bell is 4-for-25 against Mercker.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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