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Cards Continue Slide

Greg Swindell didn't get any souvenirs this time from Mark McGwire, his old friend and former Olympic teammate. Swindell just coaxed McGwire into two big outs, and that was enough.

Swindell, who has three signed and dated broken bats from previous matchups with McGwire, barely kept the burly first baseman from his 36th homer in the fourth inning. Swindell then got McGwire on a foul popup in the sixth.

Both outs came on full-count pitches in a tight game, key moments in a superbly pitched game that helped the Minnesota Twins beat the slumping St. Louis Cardinals 5-1.

"We go a long way back," said Swindell, who played with McGwire in the 1984 Olympics. "It's fun, just the competition with him, especially what's happening lately."

That would be McGwire's charge toward Roger Maris' 37-year-old record of 61 home runs. It was the reason most in the crowd of 29,089 came to the Metrodome on a stormy Friday night, but they watched McGwire go 0-for-4 as the Cardinals lost their fourth straight.

McGwire's only brush with his 36th homer came in the fourth, when he hit a towering fly to left field off Swindell. Marty Cordova made the catch with his back against the wall.

Swindell (2-2) worked 3 1-3 scoreless innings, one of six pitchers who helped hold the Cardinals to four hits.

"We were talking in the (pregame) meeting and I crossed myself, just praying (McGwire) doesn't hit it out," Swindell said. "We were like, let's not worry about him too much. Then we ended up talking about him for 15 minutes."

The night wasn't all good for the Twins, though.

Starting pitcher Mike Morgan left after 2 2-3 innings with a strained ribcage muscle on his left side and probably is headed for the disabled list. It's the same injury landed him on the 15-day DL with Cincinnati last season.

"That really put a damper on our night," manager Tom Kelly said.

With McGwire shut down, Cordova and Matt Lawton provided the power as Minnesota snapped a three-game losing streak. Lawton hit a solo homer in the first, his ninth, and Cordova added a two-run drive in the Twins' three-run eighth, his seventh.

Ray Lankford provided the Cardinals' only run with a solo homer in the seventh. It was his 11th and cut Minnesota's lead to 2-1.

McGwire had his final at-bat against Hector Carrasco in the eighth with a chance to tie the game 2-2. He hit a monstrous popup that almost hit the roof before shortstop Pat Meares caught it behind the mound.

"That was an unbelievable thing to witness," Kelly said of McGwire's popup. "He certainly is an exciting player, especially when he swings the bat. Everybody loves to watch him hit. I certainly enjoy it."

Juan Acevedo (2-2) worked seven innings for the Cardinals, losig as a starter for the first time this season. He gave up nine hits, with four strikeouts and no walks.

McGwire wasn't the only St. Louis player who was shut down, continuing a weak-hitting week in which the Cardinals have managed just seven total runs during their losing streak.

"It's the worst when the offense really struggles," said former Twin Gary Gaetti, who got nearly as much applause as McGwire during his at-bats. "It's like a morgue in here when the offense struggles."

Notes: Lankford was ejected in the ninth for arguing a close play at first base for the first out. ... Gaetti is the only active player from Minnesota's 1987 championship team. ... St. Louis catcher Tom Pagnozzi threw out 2-of-3 base stealers Friday. He now has nailed nine of 19 after starting the season 0-for-9. ... The home team still is perfect when the Twins and Cardinals meet. The home team won every game in Minnesota's 4-3 World Series victory in '87, and the Cardinals swept three games at Busch Stadium last summer. ... Morgan has left with a lead or a tie in 12 of his 16 starts. ... McGwire, who is trying to become the first player with 50 homers in three straight seasons, needs one homer to match the most by a St. Louis player since Stan Musial hit 36 in 1949. McGwire hit 58 homers last year, but only 24 with St. Louis. He hit 34 for Oakland before being traded to the Cardinals on July 31.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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