Watch CBSN Live

McGwire Hits 53rd In Cards Loss

Mark McGwire is hitting home runs so fast, he's rewriting history with almost every prodigious swing of his bat.

McGwire hit his 53rd homer -- moments after Sammy Sosa hit No. 50 in Chicago -- to become the first National Leaguer to hit that many in 49 years Sunday as the St. Louis Cardinals' lost 4-3 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Related Links

Browne: McGwire starting to enjoy chase

Who's Better: Sosa or McGwire?

McGwire HR chart

Wild-card tracker


  • GameCenter
  • Box score
  • Play-by-play

    City pages:

  • St. Louis
  • Pittsburgh

    Forum: Will McGwire break Maris' record?

  • McGwire became just the third NL player to hit as many as 53 homers in a season, joining the Pirates' Ralph Kiner (54 in 1949) and the Chicago Cubs' Hack Wilson, who hit a league-record 56 homers in 1930.

    McGwire, who broke Babe Ruth's record for homers over three consecutive seasons with a tape-measure homer Saturday, hit a 2-2 pitch from Ricardo Rincon deep into the left-field seats with two outs in the eighth inning.

    The high drive initially looked like it might reach the seldom-reached upper deck, and the estimate of 393 feet seemed to be way off.

    McGwire's sixth homer in five days left him eight short of tying Roger Maris' record of 61 in 1961 with 32 games to play, and it rated him the rarest of ovations -- a curtain call on the road. Mark McGwire Mark McGwire watches the flight of his 53rd home run on Sunday. (AP)

    "They kept clapping for about a minute, so I ducked my head out and gave them a wave," McGwire said. "I hope the Pirates didn't mind. I wish everybody in baseball could feel the reception I'm getting."

    McGwire acknowledged after hitting his 50th last week he has a legitimate shot at baseball's most storied record, but he wishes people would quit conceding it to him.

    "I'm not close to it yet," he said. "It's a long ways away."

    Still, Pirates starter Jason Schmidt says every opposing pitcher realizes he might soon be in the record books, too.

    "Jon Lieber and I were talking about that," Schmidt said. "We're part of history. This will be with us for the rest of our lives, but I don't care. He's such a great guy, everybody is excited."

    Except the fans who bought tickets for Monday afternoon's game in Pittsburgh. McGwire plans to take the day off, the second game he would skip in a four-day span.

    McGwire said the day off has been planned for a week, and he probably will skip only one more game the rest of the season.

    "We get together and rate what's happening at the time, how the games are going, what the weather's like, all that stuff," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. " Last year, we had one planned, we went against it, and it worked out against him and against us."

    McGwire's timing Sunday couldn't have been more perfect. Sosa, chasing McGwire and Maris, had connected on his 50th in Chicago literally minutes before McGwire's shot.

    McGwire is congratulated by his teammates after hitting No. 53 (AP)

    "Really, that's really cool," McGwire said.

    McGwire's homer was the 440th home run of his career, the 22nd most in major league history, and left him two homers behind Dave Kingman, his favorite player as a youngster.

    Before homering, McGwire, who helped lure the Pirates' first consecutive regular-season sellouts since they moved into Three Rivers Stadium in 1970, grounded out, walked twice and doubled ahead of Ron Gant's run-scoring grounder in the fifth.

    That was one of the few runners the Cardinals managed to get home as they stranded 14 -- at least two runners in every inning from the second through the seventh.

    La Russa's strategy of batting his pitcher eighth to provide more protection in front of McGwire backfired as Kent Mercker (8-11) struck ou with two runners on and two outs in both the second and fifth innings.

    Overshadowed by McGwire's run on baseball's most storied record were Fernando Tatis' 5-for-5 day for St. Louis and the Pirates' season high-tying seventh consecutive victory.

    Schmidt (11-9) won his third in a row after losing eight straight despite walking six and yielding seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. Jason Christiansen got the final out for his sixth save.

    Schmidt said he is too much of a competitor to pitch around McGwire, even though the Pirates have walked him 10 times over the last two weekends.

    "He's very pitchable, really," Schmidt said. "But if you make even a little mistake, you'll get hurt. I definitely wanted to pitch to him. I used it as a motivator. Deep down, I wanted to strike him out, and I wasn't happy I walked him."

    McGwire is given a rare curtain call in front of Pirates' fans (Reuters)

    The Pirates looked like they were destined for another big run-scoring day -- they scored 14 runs on both Friday and Saturday -- when they took a 3-0 lead in the first against Mercker, who has surrendered 24 hits and 11 earned runs over 14 2/3 innings in his last three starts.

    Adrian Brown's rbi double and Jason Kendall's sacrifice fly made it 2-0 before Kevin Young hit his 24th homer, a solo shot that left him five RBI short of his first 100-RBI season.

    But the Pirates scored only once more on doubles by Freddy Garcia and Tony Womack in the sixth against reliever John Frascatore.

    St. Louis lost its third in a row overall and its seventh straight in Three Rivers Stadium over the last two seasons. The Pirates have won 13 of their last 16 against the Cardinals.


  • The Cardinals have 13 homers in seven games against the Pirates, two by McGwire.
  • Schmidt is 5-1 against St. Louis; Mercker is 1-4 against Pittsburgh.
  • McGwire has walked 10 times in five games against Pittsburgh over the last two weekends and is within 33 walks of tying Babe Ruth's record of 170 walks in 1923.
  • McGwire has 163 homers over the last three seasons, two more than Ruth hit from 1926-28.
  • McGwire's 111 homers the last two years are the most in history by a right-handed batter.
  • © 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

    View CBS News In
    CBS News App Open
    Chrome Safari Continue