McGwire’s Son Can Kiss ‘Em Goodbye Too
Mark McGwire credits his latest home-run binge to his 10-year-old son, Matthew.
“He kissed my bat,” McGwire said after hitting Nos. 39 and 40 in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 6-4 victory over the Houston Astros Sunday at St. Louis.
“That’s what it came down to.”
Actually, Matthew McGwire, a part-time Cardinal bat boy, returned to his mother’s home in Southern California Sunday morning, a few hours before the game began.
“But [the kiss] was still on it,” McGwire said.
That explanation is as good as any for McGwire’s sudden surge. He ended a 21 at-bat homerless slump with a game-winning, two-run shot in the 11th inning on Saturday, then on Sunday he hit his 39th in the first inning and homered again in the seventh.
Astro second baseman Craig Biggio warned that watching McGwire’s chase of Roger Maris’ record can be dangerous.
“When he hits line drives, get the family of four out of the left-field seats before they get killed,” Biggio said. “Without a doubt, this is his year.”
In the first inning, McGwire hit the first pitch he saw from Sean Bergman (8-5) off the wall beyond the visitor’s bullpen in left field.
He struck out in the third and drew his major league-leading 19th intentional walk in the fourth before hitting No. 40 on a 2-1 pitch from rookie Scott Elarton to lead off the seventh, a 415-foot drive.
“I’ve not been around too long, but the home run he hit off me was the most impressive thing I’ve seen in my major league career,” Elarton said.
McGwire broke two records for reaching 40 homers this early in the season. He bettered his own record for reaching the plateau in terms of at-bats, getting there in 281. He did it in 294 at-bats in 1996, when he finished with 52 homers.
He also reached 40 homers in the Cardinals’ 90th game, bettering Babe Ruth’s 1928 mark by one game.
McGwire has 427 career homers, passing Billy Williams for 23rd on the list. He has hit more than Cardinals’ Hall of Famer Stan Musial, whose best was 39 in 1948, and is only three away from the team homer record of 43 set by Johnny Mize in 1939.
McGwire is scheduled to get his first day off since June 4 sometime this week.
Cincinnati 5, Arizona 3--Paul Konerko, a high school standout in suburban Phoenix only four years ago, hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning at Phoenix to give the Reds their seventh consecutive victory.
Konerko, in his third game with the Reds after coming to Cincinnati in the trade that sent reliever Jeff Shaw to the Dodgers, slammed a 1-0 pitch from reliever Alan Embree over the right-field fence with nobody out in the ninth.
Chicago 3, Milwaukee 0--Mark Clark pitched a three-hitter for his first shutout in more than three years and Scott Servais drove in all three Chicago runs at Milwaukee.
Clark (5-8) retired 16 of the last 18, walked and struck out four in the third three-hitter and shutout of his career. The right-hander’s last shutout came against Detroit on May 13, 1994.
Cub outfielder Sammy Sosa was hitless in three at-bats with a walk.
New York 5, Montreal 2--Brian McRae hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning at New York and reliever Jeff Tam got his first major league victory.
Butch Huskey, benched on Saturday for Todd Hundley’s return, started in right field and had four hits. Hundley started in left for the second consecutive game and was hitless in two at-bats with a walk.
Philadelphia 10, Pittsburgh 4--Mark Lewis, Doug Glanville and Gregg Jefferies hit two-run homers at Pittsburgh as the Phillies finished off their second consecutive three-game sweep of the Pirates.
The Phillies’ 27th comeback victory was their sixth victory in a row and moved them four games over .500 at 46-42, a 21-game turnaround from a year ago, when they were 25-63.
Florida 5, Atlanta 3--The Marlins took three of four games in a weekend series from the Braves at Miami, handing Tom Glavine his first road loss.
The Marlins had already defeated Denny Neagle and Greg Maddux before beating Glavine (12-4).
Rookie Mike Redmond had three hits and drove in two runs for Florida, which has won 18 of 30 and trails fourth-place Montreal by only 1 1/2 games.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
Least number of games to hit 40 home runs in a season:
* 90--Mark McGwire, St. Louis Cardinals, 1998.
* 91--Babe Ruth, New York Yankees, 1928.
* 96--Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics, 1932.
* 96--Roger Maris, New York Yankees, 1961.
* 97--Reggie Jackson, Oakland Athletics, 1969.