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McGwire Quiet In Cards Loss


Kevin Brown put a pitch "on a tee" for Mark McGwire and lived to tell about it.

McGwire, who usually launches those kind of pitches into the outfield seats, settled for a two-run single as St. Louis jumped on Brown for a 3-0 first-inning lead. But the Padres quickly regained the lead behind Brown and Tony Gwynn and cruised to a 7-3 win over the Cardinals Sunday.

Gwynn drove in three runs on two doubles while Brown faced just one batter over the minimum after the first inning and kept McGwire from adding to his major league-leading home run total of 27.

Brown (5-3) was victimized by two bloop hits and an infield single among the five St. Louis hits the first inning. A double to left by Delino DeShields followed by McGwire's shot up the middle were the hardest-hit balls off Brown.

" I made a couple of bad pitches today, but for the most part I didn't make that many mistakes," Brown said. "Every ball they hit found a hole. I made a bad pitch on McGwire. I just didn't do what I wanted to with the ball and gave up a hit. I put it on a tee for him."

Brown understands how facing McGwire can be unsettling to some pitchers.

"I mean, anytime a guy that big steps up to the plate -- they're very few and far between, thank God -- it's kind of hard not to notice them standing there. The sun just disappears for a while."

McGwire came in 6-for-38 lifetime against Brown, with one homer. The slugger finished 1-for-4 and struck out twice Sunday.

"I don't mind facing him, but he's a nasty pitcher," said McGwire, who raised his league-leading RBI total to 68. "It's not like I'm the only one that he's had success against."

McGwire said Brown tried to throw an inside sinking fastball, but it stayed out over the plate.

"You try to hit the mistakes, because you're not going to get too many," said McGwire, who scored on Willie McGee's single.

"No doubt I was very disappointed in the way things turned out in the first inning, but I tried to take a deep breath and just say, 'Leave 'em right there and give the guys a chance,'" Brown said. "I didn't have to wait very long. The guys got us right back in the game and took the lead very quickly."

Brown won consecutive starts for the first time with the Padres, allowing seven hits and three runs in eight innings and striking out eight to match his season high.

After the first inning, the right-hander allowed two singles and a walk nd was backed by two double plays. In the sixth, center fielder Steve Finley made a nice sliding catch of Willie McGee's fly and threw a one-hopper to first baseman Wally Joyner to double off Ray Lankford, who had drawn a leadoff walk.

" Kevin Brown is the king of bloop shots," Finley said. "Getting guys to hit it off the end of bats or jamming guys and they hit it just over the infield. You've got to be ready for that."

With his 27 homers, McGwire ended May by three Ken Griffey Jr.'s year-old record for most homers through the season's first two months. He's just five shy of the June mark -- Griffey's 32 in 1994.

Finley and Gwynn hit consecutive first-inning doubles for San Diego's first run. The Padres scored four runs on four hits and two walks in the second to take a 5-3 lead and chase Sean Lowe (0-1). Gwynn capped the second-inning rally with his fourth double in two games.

San Diego scored two more in the eighth, on Wally Joyner's single and pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney's sacrifice fly.

Lowe, the second straight Cardinals pitcher to make his first start of the season, allowed five runs and six hits in 1 2-3 innings. He was relieved by Manny Aybar, who had been scheduled to start in Friday night's series opener but was sent to the bullpen after two bad starts. Aybar allowed two hits and walked one in 4 1-3 innings and retired the final 10 batters, six by strikeout.

There was an interesting exchange between the teams early in the game. Someone on the Padres bench noticed that Aybar had "123" written on the front of his cap. The numbers are a memorial to Aybar's former winter ball teammate, Jose Oliva, who was killed in a car crash last winter in the Dominican Republic. But players aren't allowed to alter their uniforms.

Aybar had to change caps, and the Cardinals then pointed out to the umpire Frank Pulli that Padres third base coach Tim Flannery was standing outside the box. Not only was Flannery told to get in the box, but Cardinals coaches Rene Lachemann and Dave McKay were ordered to stand in the boxes the next inning.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa called it a step backward.

"If they're going to complain about something like that ... one (expletive) move deserves another," he said.

Notes:

  • On Saturday, Juan Acevedo made his first start of the season for the Cardinals, allowing one run and five hits in five innings.
  • The four-game series concludes with a game Monday night.
  • The Padres optioned first baseman Eddie Williams back to Class AAA Las Vegas after the game and plan to activate outfielder James Mouton off the disabled list on Monday. Mouton finished a rehab assignment to Las Vegas on Sunday.

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