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McGwire, Cards Walk To Victory


After wild wins in the two first two games of a much-anticipated series, St. Louis' latest victory over Chicago was a walk in the park -- especially for Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

After both homered in Saturday's 9-8, 13-inning game, McGwire walked twice and Sosa was given three free passes as the Cardinals edged the Cubs 2-1 on Sunday. McGwire leads the majors with 46 homers, two more than Sosa.

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  • "I'm sure the Cubs didn't enjoy the series as much as we did," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

    The only homer Sunday was a big one -- pinch hitter John Mabry's two-out shot off Wengert (1-1) in the sixth that broke a 1-1 tie.

    The Cubs, who had just five hits but seven walks, stranded 12 runners.

    "We just couldn't come up with the hit when we needed it," manager Jim Riggleman said. "It's a combination probably of a little weariness from yesterday and pitchers making good pitches when they needed it."

    McGwire, who leads the majors with 121 walks, also struck out twice. Sosa was 1-for-2 with a single and a strikeout. Both are chasing Roger Maris' single-season record of 61 homers.

    Sosa, whose two-run homer sent Saturday's game into extra innings, had a chance to put the Cubs on top after Mark Grace walked with two out in the ninth. But Jef Brantley, throwing all fastballs, struck him out swinging for his 14th save.

    "He challenged me," Sosa said. "I like that. I respect that."

    The Cardinals won their fifth straight and handed a fourth straight loss to the Cubs, who lead the New York Mets by a half-game in the NL wild-card race.

    Both starters were effective despite wildness. Wengert threw 115 pitches in 5 2-3 innings, giving up five hits and five walks. He struck out six.

    Oliver, making his second start since coming to St. Louis from Texas in a July 31 trade, threw 116 pitches, but gave up just one unearned run in six innings. He walked five, gave up four hits and struck out one.

    The game might have lacked the luster of Friday's 16-3 St. Louis win, which featured a 14-run first inning (11 by the Cardinals); or Saturday's roller-coaster contest that saw four lead changes.

    But one thing remained the same: The Cubs scored first, this time with a run in the second without a hit.

    Oliver walked Sosa and Jose Hernandez. The Cardinals could have gotten out of the inning unharmed as Scott Servais grounded to third with two outs. But second baseman Pat Kelly dropped Fernando Tatis' throw, allowing Sosa to score.

    Oliver then walked Wengert -- who was 0-for-11 -- to load the bases, but slumping Jeff Blauser flew out to center. Oliver escaped another bases loaded jam in the fifth when Hernandez grounded into a double play.

    The Cardinals tied it in the fourth on a double by Brian Jordan -- his fifth in the series -- a walk to McGwire and a bloop double by Lankford. After starting Saturday's game with five strikeouts, Lankford had four straight hits before flying out in the fifth.

    Notes

  • Blauser is in a 4-for-38 slide.
  • The series drew 143,773 fans.
  • Brantley, who struggled most of the season after missing nearly all of last year because of an arm injury, had his seventh straight scoreless appearance.
  • In batting practice, Cubs players traded jerseys with each other in an effort to break their losing streak.
  • Since June 7, McGwire has driven in just two runs with a hit other than a homer, both coming on a two-run single Friday.

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