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Mac Hits 47th But Cards Lose


Mark McGwire's silent stretch is over.

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    Forum: How many homers will McGwire have by the end of the season?

  • regained sole possession of the home run lead, becoming the first NL player to hit 47 before September as the St. Louis Cardinals lost to the New York Mets 8-3 Tuesday night.

    "There's a lot of August left," manager Tony La Russa said.

    Entering the game, McGwire had not put a ball in play for 13 plate appearances -- seven walks and six strikeouts -- since hitting No. 46 on Saturday.

    He doubled in the first inning and then hit a 464-foot drive off Bobby Jones in the fourth. The solo homer to left-center field ricocheted off a sign adjacent to the scoreboard.

    "I didn't even watch it," Mets center fielder Brian McRae said. "I knew it was gone. When he hits them, there's no doubt.

    "There's no sense in running back to the wall when they're hit like that."

    McGwire had been tied for the major-league lead with Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs, who connected twice Monday night. He claimed to be unaware of his quiet time, and of his latest achievement on the homer trail.

    Hack Wilson entered September with 46 homers in 1930, finishing with 56 homers and a record 190 RBI. Roger Maris hit 51 homers before September in his record 61-homer season in 1961.

    "I wish I would have known all these things because when I'm always asked all these questions in front of all of you within 20 minutes after the game, I have no time to react, I have no time to think abou it," McGwire said. "Obviously, it'll mean something to me.

    "It's a great honor to pass somebody like that, but I'd really like it to sink in."

    Edgardo Alfonzo had four hits as the Mets moved one-half game ahead of the Cubs for the NL wild-card spot.

    Jones (9-8) gave up homers to Fernando Tatis and pinch-hitter Tom Lampkin in a three-batter stretch in the seventh. But Jones helped himself with a two-run double.

    Jones entered the season a .134 career hitter, but the double that highlighted a four-run second against Kent Mercker (8-9) was his eighth hit in a span of 20 at-bats and came after La Russa ordered eighth-place hitter Rey Ordonez intentionally walked. La Russa said Mercker took Jones for granted and paid the price.

    "That wasn't the fastball he threw most of the night to everybody else," La Russa said. "You've got to give Jones credit - he was ready and he stroked it."

    Mercker wasn't happy about La Russa's words. He said he doesn't let up against anybody.

    "I don't relax," Mercker said. "I never relax. It's not in my makeup to relax. I wish I could relax."

    Jones took the intentional walk to Ordonez personally.

    "I just wanted them to know they made a mistake," Jones said.

    Jones, who had been 0-2 in six starts since his last victory July 2 at Toronto, worked seven innings and allowed eight hits.

    Alfonzo had his sixth career four-hit game and two RBI as the Mets won for the eighth time in 12 games. Newly acquired Jermaine Allensworth and John Olerud, whose 23-game hitting streak came to an end Monday, each had two hits and an RBI.

    Mercker lasted five innings and gave up five runs, four earned, on eight hits. He had won his previous three starts.

    Notes

  • McGwire's homer came in his 162nd game with the Cardinals, who acquired him July 31, 1997. In that time he has 71 homers, 146 RBI and 165 walks.
  • The Mets are 4-0 against the Cardinals and 10-2 in the last two seasons.
  • Alfonzo is 13-for-27 during a six-game hitting streak and has eight RBI in his last seven games. He's also 7-for-9 in the first two games of the series.
  • Todd Hundley, who hit his first homer of the season on Monday, struck out his first three trips and had been 3-for-29 (.103) with runners in scoring position before his RBI single in the seventh.
  • The Cardinals have seven pinch-hit homers, matching the club record set in 1946 and 1960.

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