Even though he homered against them, the Chicago White Sox were glad to see Mark McGwire at Comiskey Park.
McGwire gave the 23,087 fans what they wanted to see, hitting his major league-leading 29th homer, but Jeff Abbott's three-run triple led the White Sox to an 8-6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night.
"He makes the place electric," White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said of McGwire. "Fans jump to their feet just to see him hit one. Players also, but not the opposing manager. He's good for baseball."
His presence in the interleague game helped the White Sox sagging home attendance. Monday's crowd marked only the third time the team has drawn more than 23,000 fans to Comiskey Park in 26 home dates.
McGwire hit a two-run homer in the fourth, a 356-foot shot off Jason Bere.
"McGwire's probably the top home run threat in baseball," Bere said. "He must be seeing the ball very well."
McGwire has hit 13 homers in his last 17 games. He hit his 28th on Friday against San Francisco after missing three games because of back spasms.
The NL leader in six categories, McGwire raised his league-leading RBI total to 73. But he wasn't happy after the Cardinals lost their sixth straight.
"We've been coming up short the last six games," McGwire said. "Nothing's clicking. It's not great and it's not fun. I don't care how you do individually. If you don't win as a team, it doesn't matter."
Abbott, starting in place of slumping Mike Cameron, tripled in a five-run fifth inning as the White Sox snapped a three-game losing streak.
"That was the best at-bat I've had as a major leaguer," said Abbott, who is in his second year in the majors. "I hit it as well as I could in this park."
Bere (3-5) gave up four runs and six hits, including three homers, over six innings. Matt Karchner pitched the ninth for his sixth save.
Mark Petkovsek (3-3) allowed eight runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings.
"We're in a rut right now," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
Albert Belle hit an RBI single in the first, Magglio Ordonez added a run-scoring single and Robin Ventura had an RBI groundout in the third as Chicago took a 3-0 lead.
But the Cardinals came back to tie it on McGwire's two-run homer in the fourth and John Mabry's solo shot in the fifth.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Mike Caruso hit a ball that struck Petkovsek on the right hand, then hit his nose. Petkovsek fell to the mound, retrieved the ball and threw wildly to first, allowing Caruso to reach second on the error.
After Frank Thomas walked, Belle reached second on an error by right fielder Brian Jordan, scoring Caruso. Ventura was intentionally walked and Abbott tripled to rght-center to make it 7-3. Abbott scored on a wild pitch by reliever Rich Croushore.
"You're not going to beat us with our right fielder making an error," La Russa said. "He's a Gold Glover."
Jordan rebounded to hit his 10th homer in the sixth and Willie McGee hit a two-run triple in the seventh as the Cardinals pulled within 8-6.
Notes: Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone, in town for the NBA Finals, watched McGwire take batting practice. McGwire didn't disappoint, hitting one ball onto the concourse in left field. McGwire once held the record for the longest home run by an opponent at Comiskey Park 470 feet on July 24, 1996, when he played for Oakland. Anaheim's Cecil Fielder topped that on May 13 when he hit a 473-foot blast. Monday's homer was McGwire's eighth at new Comiskey Park in his career. He had four at old Comiskey Park. ... The White Sox are 1-3 in interleague play after being swept by the crosstown Chicago Cubs.
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