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McGwire blasts two more home runs

After watching Sammy Sosa hit four homers in two days to take over the major league lead with 51, Mark McGwire responded with two shots Sunday to make baseball history and close within one of the Chicago slugger.

Monday, August 23, 1999

After watching Sammy Sosa hit four homers in two days to take over the major league lead with 51, Mark McGwire responded with two shots Sunday to make baseball history and close within one of the Chicago slugger.

McGwire became the first player with 50 homers in four consecutive seasons when he hit a pair in the first game of St. Louis’ doubleheader against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium. The teams split the twinbill, with the Mets overcoming a five-run deficit to win the opener 8-7 and the Cardinals taking the second game 7-5.

Big Mac hit a 502-foot homer in the first inning off Octavio Dotel, and added a 396-foot shot off Jeff Tam for his 50th homer in the seventh.

”That’s the farthest I think I’ve ever seen a ball hit,” Mets manager Bobby Valentine said of the first blast, which shattered a lightbulb and put a dent in the scoreboard in right-center.

Even McGwire was amazed.

”That’s as hard as I’ve hit a ball to the opposite field,” he said.

Like last year, when he finished with a record 70 homers, McGwire hit his 50th in the first game of a doubleheader at Shea. And like last year, he has 50 homers after the Cardinals’ 125th game of the season.

”I’ve always thought 50 was the plateau,” McGwire said. ”That’s not too shabby of a year. Not too many people have done it.”

McGwire, 0-for-3 with two walks in the second game, said he isn’t worried about catching Sosa, who went homerless Sunday against Colorado.

”I take care of myself, he takes care of himself,” McGwire said. ”I have no control over anybody else. The only thing I’m chasing is No. 51.”

After falling behind 6-1 in the opener, New York rallied to tie it in the eighth on John Olerud’s grand slam and Mike Piazza’s 30th homer.

After the Cardinals took a 7-6 lead in the top of the ninth, the Mets rallied again and won it in the bottom half on Rickey Henderson’s RBI double and Edgardo Alfonzo’s run-scoring single off Ricky Bottalico (2-7).

In the second game, former Met Craig Paquette homered and drove in three runs and Adam Kennedy had the first three hits of his career, including a three-run double, as the Cardinals gained a split.

Piazza hit a pinch, two-run single for the Mets, setting a team record with an RBI in 10 straight games.

Braves 3, Padres 2

Brian Jordan’s one-out single in the ninth inning drove in Gerald Williams from second with the winning run as Atlanta completed a three-game sweep at Turner Field.

Diamondbacks 7, Pirates 5

Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams and Erubiel Durazo hit consecutive homers in Arizona’s five-run first inning against Jason Schmidt in Pittsburgh.

Gonzalez added a solo homer in the ninth – his third homer of the series – and drove in four runs. Omar Daal (13-6) withstood a four-run third inning for his 10th victory in his 12 decisions.

The Diamondbacks have won 14 of their last 17 road games and are 23-7 overall dating to Randy Johnson’s victory in Seattle on July 20.

Dodgers 9, Phillies 7

At Philadelphia, Gary Sheffield hit a grand slam and drove in a season-high six RBIs, and Chan Ho Park got his first victory in over a month.

Rockies 3, Cubs 2

Larry Walker hit his 33rd home run and Dante Bichette added a two-run single as Colorado won at Wrigley Field.

Sosa, coming off consecutive two-homer games, went 1-for-3 with a single. Walker, the NL’s leading hitter at .358, connected with one out in the sixth inning as the Rockies won for the seventh time in 10 games.

Giants 7, Brewers 3

Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent and Ellis Burks connected for consecutive homers in the first inning, the second time in three days San Francisco hit three in a row.

Kent homered in his first at-bat since coming off the disabled list as the Giants completed a three-game sweep in Milwaukee.

After Bill Mueller singled, Bonds began the barrage off Cal Eldred (1-7) with his 22nd home run. Kent followed with his 14th and Burks hit his 24th. In Friday’s 10-3 victory, Ramon Martinez, Bonds and Burks hit consecutive home runs in the fourth inning.