Mark McGwire hit his 36th home run -- matching the most by any St. Louis player in a full season in 49 years -- and the Cardinals snapped a four-game losing streak with a 7-2 win over the Minnesota Twins Saturday night.
That delighted the crowd of 35,002, most of whom came to see McGwire go deep and many of whom booed when he walked in the Cardinals' three-run sixth. Many also started filing for the exits after his homer, satisfied that they had seen a small slice of history in the making.
McGwire, who has more homers before July 1 than any player in major league history, needs 26 homers in the final 83 games to break Roger Maris' record of 61 set in 1961.
McGwire's total is the highest in a season for the Cardinals since Stan Musial hit 36 in 1949. The Cardinals' record is 43 by Johnny Mize in 1940.
Brian Hunter also homered and drove in two runs for the Cardinals. Gary Gaetti, the last active member of Minnesota's 1987 World Series championship team, added three hits and scored twice, including the go-ahead run in the sixth.
Todd Stottlemyre (9-5) pitched a five-hitter for his third complete game of the season. He allowed leadoff singles in the first three innings, a unearned run in the fifth and Scott Stahoviak's solo homer in the seventh.
The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the third on Hunter's 396-foot solo homer to left-center field. Center fielder Otis Nixon made a leaping play on the ball at the fence, but the ball glanced off his glove and fell into the stands, giving Hunter his fourth homer of the season.
The Twins tied it in the fifth. With Todd Walker at second base and one out, Stahoviak hit a routine fly ball to center field. Brian Jordan appeared to make the catch and then drop the ball taking it from his glove to make a throw.
But second base umpire Al Clark ruled Jordan dropped the fly, giving the Twins runners at the corners with one out. Walker scored on Stottlemyre's wild pitch.
The Cardinals came back right away against Eric Milton (4-7) with three in the sixth to take the lead for good.
After McGwire walked to a cascade of boos, Jordan singled home Gaetti. Tom Pagnozzi added an RBI double and Hunter made it 4-1 with a run-scoring groundout.
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