Another homer by Mark McGwire, another loss for his St. Louis Cardinals. It has become an annoyingly familiar pattern for the slugger.

Kirk Rueter pitched eight strong innings, outdueling Kent Bottenfield and overcoming McGwire's 37th homer, as the Giants defeated the Cardinals, 2-1, yesterday afternoon in San Francisco.

"I wish I could do something when we win," said McGwire, who also homered in the Cardinals' 10-8 loss to the Giants on Monday night.

Rueter (9-5), who set a career high with 10 strikeouts, allowed one run on three hits and his only walk was an intentional pass to McGwire. He did not allow a hit after the third inning and retired the last 16 batters he faced.

John Johnstone pitched the ninth for his third save.

While McGwire's homer went about 407 feet, the Giants scored their runs in the sixth on two balls that didn't make it out of the infield. Barry Bonds got an RBI on a slow grounder and Ellis Burks followed with a run-scoring infield single.

"A win's a win. I don't think anybody's going to complain," said Rueter, whose Giants won for just the fifth time in 13 games since the all-star break. "With the way our luck has been going since the break, we're happy with any win."

Bottenfield (14-4), trying to become the first 15-game winner in the NL, allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings. He had won his previous five decisions.

"What can you do? There were a couple of infield hits that inning and I walked a guy, and that doesn't help," Bottenfield said. "Sometimes when you pitch well things don't work out, sometimes when you pitch badly things do work out."

McGwire's 10th homer in his last 13 games, a shot over the left field bleachers, moved him past Lou Gehrig into sole possession of 16th place on the career list with 494 home runs. McGwire had tied Gehrig with a three-run homer Monday night against the Giants.

"That is a huge name in the game of baseball," McGwire said. "When people constantly put my name up against all these Hall of Famers, it's quite awesome to think I've passed them."

With 256 homers since the start of the 1995 season, McGwire matched Babe Ruth's record for most homers in five consecutive seasons. Ruth hit 256 from 1926 to '30.

MARLINS 6, PHILLIES 2: Visiting Florida scored six runs in the first off rookie Randy Wolf to stop its losing streak against Philadelphia at six. Danny Bautista, a late replacement for Preston Wilson in the lineup, had two hits including a key two-run single in Wolf's disastrous first. Alex Fernandez (5-6) won for the first time in three starts, and the Marlins beat the Phillies for the first time since their first meeting on April 9.

CUBS 4, EXPOS 2: Terry Mulholland came within an out of his first complete game in two years and hit a two-run single as visiting Chicago stopped a four-game losing streak. Glenallen Hill went 2 for 3 with a homer and two RBI as the Cubs won for just the fourth time in their last 11 games.

Mulholland (6-6), who needs one more win to reach 100, won his second straight start after going 1-5 in his previous nine. He improved to 15-4 against Montreal, allowing two runs and 10 hits, and getting 21 outs on grounders.

BRAVES 10, BREWERS 2: Randall Simon went 3 for 3 with one of host Atlanta's four home runs, and the Braves got 14 hits. Hideo Nomo (9-3) lost for just the second time in nine decisions, allowing Andruw Jones's two-run homer in the fourth, Bret Boone's solo shot in the fifth and Simon's two-run drive in the sixth.

PIRATES 5, METS 1: In New York, Al Martin hit two solo homers, including one to lead off the game, and Kris Benson made it hold up with his first career complete game. Brant Brown also hit a solo homer for the Pirates, who stopped the Mets' season-high six-game winning streak.

DIAMONDBACKS 4, PADRES 3: Luis Gonzalez hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth, and the visiting Arizona won for the seventh win in eight games. Arizona starter Andy Benes was hit in the right arm by Woody Williams' liner leading off the third and was taken to a hospital for further examination. There was no immediate report on his condition. San Diego's Tony Gwynn went 2 for 5 to move within 10 hits of 3,000.

ASTROS 6, ROCKIES 3: Matt Mieske went 3 for 4 and had three RBI for the second straight night as visiting Houston rolled to its 13th win in 15 games.

REDS 5, DODGERS 3: In Los Angeles, Chris Stynes was 3 for 4 and forced in the go-ahead run when he walked with the bases loaded in the 10th.