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Cards Nip Braves In 10

Mark McGwire chased a record with the bat on his shoulder.


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  • St. Louis Cardinals' slugger remained stuck on 54 home runs Friday night, disappointing thousands of flashbulbs popping on every swing, in a 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Atlanta Braves.

    McGwire had his major-league home-run lead shaved to one when Chicago's Sammy Sosa connected for No. 53 at Colorado. McGwire did gain ground on Babe Ruth's obscure walk record, however, with two full-count free passes off Maddux.

    "I want him to break the record as much as anybody," Maddux said. "But I'm trying to win. I'm trying to get him out the way that's best."

    McGwire, who also doubled in the third and struck out in the eighth and 10th, has 140 walks in 135 games and needs 30 in the last 28 games to tie Ruth's mark of 170 in 1923.

    Last week, manager Tony La Russa, disgruntled that pitchers weren't challenging McGwire, said the slugger could break that mark by Sept. 1.

    That hasn't been the case lately and McGwire walked only once in the first three games of the homestand. But Maddux, the four-time Cy Young winner, nibbled at the corners and walked McGwire on a full count in the first and fifth.

    "I don't enjoy facing him one bit," Maddux said while watching TV highlights of his work against McGwire. "You like to face guys you know you can get out."

    La Russa wasn't complaining.

    "Atlanta has a lot of confidence in their staff," La Russa said. "They're going to make their pitches to get him out."

    Mcwire didn't talk to reporters after the game.

    Ron Gant's bases-loaded

    Greg Maddux got the best of Big Mac -- almost bringing him to his knees. (AP)
    RBI single in the 10th off Dennis Martinez (3-5) helped St. Louis stop a six-game losing streak.

    McGwire was the only batter walked by Maddux, a 17-game winner who is tied for the league lead in victories with teammate Tom Glavine and Kevin Brown of San Diego. Maddux struck out six and allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings.

    Rudy Seanez struck out the side in the eighth, but Fernando Tatis tied it in with one out the ninth with his fifth homer off Kerry Ligtenberg. Ligtenberg has allowed earned runs in his last three outings after going 21 appearances without allowing one.

    Just before Tatis homered on a full count, Ryan Klesko made a leaping catch at the left-field wall on a drive by Gant to open the inning.

    After McGwire struck out against Martinez (3-5) with runners on first and second for the second out of the 10th, Gant won it by grounding a single through the hole into left with the bases loaded on a 3-2 count.

    "He got a pitch up because he had to throw a strike, or the game would have been over," Gant said. "I didn't think he was going to challenge me, so I just stayed on the outside part of the plate and beat him at his game."

    Juan Acevedo (7-3) worked around three hits and a walk in two scoreless innings for the Cardinals.

    McGwire, just 4-for-26 with a homer against Atlanta this season, also legged out a double in the third when he drove a ball through an overshifted defense and took advantage when left fielder Klesko had trouble picking up the ball.

    Maddux has lost more times (14) to the Cardinals than any other team, and trailed before Andruw Jones' two-run single off Mark Petkovsek in the seventh gave Atlanta a 4-3 lead.

    Cardinals starter Kent Mercker worked six innings and allowed two runs, one earned. Mercker struck out only one - and that man scored.

    Mercker fanned Andres Galarraga to open the fourth on a ball that bounced off the backstop and right back to catcher Eli Marrero, who fired it over McGwire's head at first as Galarraga went all the way to third. Galarraga scored on a groundout by Jones to bring the Braves within 3-1.

    Ray Lankford had an RBI single and Gant hit a sacrifice fly in the first to put the Cardinals ahead. St. Louis made it 3-0 in the second when Placido Polanco led off with a single, advanced on groundout and scored on Marrero's single.

    The Braves made it 3-2 in the sixth on two walks, a groundout and an infield hit by Tony Graffanino.


  • The Cardinals will be without reserve outfielder Willie McGee for a few day. McGee, 39, sprained his right ankle when he jammed it on the first-base bag for the final out Thursday and was walking with a cane and crutch in the clubhouse Friday.
  • St. Louis' bench was further shortened because second baseman Delino DeShields strained his shoulder Wednesday and third baseman John Mabry left after fouling a ball off his right knee in the fourth
  • Andruw Jones is 17-for-39 (.436) in his last 10 games and has 71 RBI, topping his rookie-season total by one.
  • Galarraga singled in the ninth to extend his hitting streak to 14 games (19-for-54).

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