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Lee Homers Arizona Past Cardinals


Travis Lee spent batting practice and part of the game admiring Mark McGwire.

Then the Arizona rookie went out and played like McGwire.

Lee homered in consecutive innings and drove in a team-record five runs as the Diamondbacks rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-4 Saturday, a performance that earned him his first standing ovation.

"It was great, a curtain call and all," he said. "I didn't know whether to go out there or not. So, you know, I asked some of the guys, `Can I go out there?' and they said, `Yeah, go ahead.' I kind of got goosebumps all over."

Down 4-3 after Brian Jordan's two-run homer in the eighth, the Diamondbacks scored four runs in the bottom half on Lee's three-run homer and Matt Williams' solo shot, both off Jeff Brantley (0-3).

"It was a fastball right down the middle," said Brantley, who blew his third save opportunity in 13 tries. "It was supposed to be inside. You're not going to miss many right down the middle. Not many do."

Lee hit a two-run homer off Curtis King in the seventh. Lee has 13 home runs and 39 RBIs, both tops in the majors among rookies.

McGwire, who hit his major league-leading 31st homer Friday night, was 1-for-2 with two walks, raising his league-leading walk total to 70.

"He's fun to watch," Lee said. "I tell him I love watching him when he's over at first base."

Russ Springer (4-3) got the victory despite allowing Jordan's homer. Gregg Olson pitched the ninth for his eighth save.

"We were ahead, then we were behind, then ahead," manager Buck Showalter said. "Travis had a big day, Brian Anderson pitched real well, and Oly closed the door for us. It was as good a defensive outfield game as you ever want to see, and bunch of good plays in the infield, too."

Anderson wound up with no decision after scattering eight hits, allowing two runs and walking three in seven innings. One of the walks was intentional to McGwire with two on in the fifth inning.

That walk, McGwire's 14th free pass of the season, drew boos from the home crowd, many hoping to see the Cardinals slugger close in on Roger Maris' single-season homer record of 61. But the strategy paid off when Jordan, the next batter, flew out to end the inning.

"I knew it was going to happen," Anderson, who leads the NL with 19 homers allowed, said about the booing. "I kind of wanted to see him swing too, just pop it up or ground out."

McGwire drew his next walk in the eighth off Springer, and Jordan followed with his homer.

Delino DeShields opened the scoring in the fifth with an RBI groundout off Anderson, and Willie McGee followed with a run-scoring single to make it 2-0.

Rich Croushore pitched 3 1-3 strong inings of long relief after filling in when starter Kent Mercker was hit by Lee's shot back to the mound in the third. The ball struck Mercker in the back of the left knee.

"We are pushing this bullpen, and it is starting to catch up to us. If 44 (Brantley) hadn't been ready, we would have gone to someone else," manager Tony La Russa said.

Croushore got Williams to pop up to end the inning, and allowed only two hits through the rest of his stint.

The second was a double by Williams, who scored on Gary Gaetti's throwing error on a grounder to third by Yamil Benitez in the sixth.

Notes:

  • The Diamondbacks optioned right-hander Bob Wolcott down to Triple-A Tucson and recalled right-hander Bobby Chouinard.
  • DeShields extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a bad-hop single that fooled shortstop Jay Bell in the third inning.
  • The start was Mercker's 300th career appearance.
  • Arizona center fielder Devon White strained his right wrist Friday and was scratched from the lineup. David Dellucci replaced him.
  • The Diamondbacks have given up 90 homers, matching the Chicago White Sox for the major league lead.

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

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