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Mets Edge Mac's 2 Dingers


New York Mets fans got all they wanted Sunday. They watched Mark McGwire make history, then saw their first-place team win a dramatic game.

McGwire hit two home runs to become the first player to reach 50 homers in four consecutive seasons before the Mets came from five runs down to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 8-7 Sunday on Edgardo Alfonzo's RBI single in the ninth inning of the first game of a doubleheader.

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  • Big Mac launched a monstrous homer in the first inning against Octavio Dotel. He hit a 1-1 pitch an estimated 502 feet his longest of the season and left a dent about 60 feet high on the scoreboard in right-center.

    "That's the farthest I think I've ever seen a ball hit," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said.

    The shot shattered a light bulb in the 16 for Ray Lankford's number just a few feet below McGwire's 25. In the bottom of the third inning, a worker climbed up the back of the scoreboard to screw in a new bulb.

    McGwire's 50th homer looked routine compared to his first-inning blast. He led off the seventh with a fly ball that just cleared the outstretched glove of Shawon Dunston in left-center and landed just over the 396-foot sign.

    The Mets came back from a 6-1 deficit to tie it in the eighth on John Olerud's grand slam and Mike Piazza's 30th homer.

    After McGwire's single in the ninth off Armando Benitez (2-2) who struck out McGwire in his first six at-bats against the slugger

    helped the Cardinals take a 7-6 lead, the Mets came back once again.

    Ricky Bottalico (2-7) came on with one out and walked the first two batters he faced. Rickey Henderson followed with an RBI double before Alfonzo singled to left through a drawn-in infield to score Matt Franco with the winning run.

    "Big hits, big players," Valentine said. "We play to the last out. We were down 6-1 and not doing much. But we came back."

    The Mets poured out of the dugout to mob Alfonzo a scene similar to their comeback win last month against the Yankees and Robin Ventura lifted Henderson up on the pitcher's mound.

    The Mets won for the 22nd time in 29 games to remain in first place in the NL East.

    McGwire's homers came in his first career at-bats against Dotel and Tam. McGwire has seven multihomer games this season and 60 in his career. He also leads the NL with 116 RBIs.

    McGwire moved ahead of his pace from his record 70-homer season, hitting No. 50 in the Cardinals' 124th game one game earlier than last year, when he hit his 50th and 51st homers in a doubleheader at Shea.

    That is the second fastest pace ever, behind only Chicago's Sammy Sosa who hit his 51st Saturday in the Cubs' 121st game.

    Piazza has seven homers in his last eight games and tied Bobby Bonilla's club record by driving in a run in nine consecutive games.

    Olerud, who also had an RBI single in the fourth, tied his career high with five RBIs.

    Joe McEwing got the Cardinals started with his first career leadoff homer. Alberto Castillo drove in two with a homer in the eighth and a sacrifice fly in the first.

    Notes

  • McGwire also tied Babe Ruth for the most 50-homer seasons in a career with four. Six players, including Sosa, have hit 50 in two seasons.
  • McGwire's 507 career homers are four behind Mel Ott for 14th place.
  • McGwire has 13 homers in his last 21 games.
  • Henderson had three hits and reached 30 stolen bases in a season for the 20th time in 21 years. The only season he didn't reach the plateau was the strike-shortened 1994 season, when he had 22.
  • The Mets bullpen had thrown 25 2-3 scoreless innings before McGwire's homer.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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