Mark McGwire was more excited about his first triple in 11 seasons than home run No. 498.

"They said it'll never be done again and I did it. I will think about retirement after this season," McGwire joked after hitting a pair of high notes in the St. Louis Cardinals' 6-5 victory last night over the visiting San Diego Padres. "I don't clog up the bases, I'll tell you that."

McGwire tied Sammy Sosa for the major league lead with his 41st homer of the season, and his 14th in 18 games, off Woody Williams with two on in the fifth inning. He has seven RBI in the last two games, is only four homers behind his record 70-homer pace of last year and is on pace for 63 homers.

But he said 500 homers wasn't that big of a milestone for him.

"There's nothing to feel," McGwire said. "It's going to happen one day. I don't know when."

McGwire's first triple since June 20, 1988, came off Trevor Hoffman in the bottom of the eighth. His sixth career triple came when when Tony Gwynn robbed him of a homer with a leaping effort at the right field wall, but couldn't hold onto the ball.

Although he went into third without a play, McGwire belittled his speed. When a reporter mentioned that he thought McGwire turned it on rounding first base he responded, "Yeah, like a big rig truck. They don't go very fast."

McGwire had four triples his rookie year in 1987 and one in 1988, but had gone 4,618 at-bats since then. It's the longest such streak in major league history.

McGwire scored on a single by Ray Lankford, who eventually scored on a wild pitch after stealing second and going to third on a wild throw by catcher Ben Davis. That gave the Cardinals a 6-2 lead and helped them withstand a three-run rally in the ninth by the Padres, who lost for the 10th time in 11 games.

Homers by Reggie Sanders in the sixth and Phil Nevin in the eighth were the only damage against Kent Bottenfield (15-4), who joined Pedro Martinez as baseball's only 15-game winners and won for the first time in four post all-star break starts. Bottenfield yielded seven hits in eight innings to move one victory ahead of Curt Schilling, Jose Lima and Mike Hampton for the NL lead.

EXPOS 5, CUBS 1: Dustin Hermanson won for the first time in almost three months and Orlando Cabrera hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the fifth inning to lead Montreal in Chicago.

Sammy Sosa hit his 41st home run in the first inning for Chicago's lone run. Mark Grace later got his 2,000th career hit for the Cubs.

Hermanson (4-10) struck out five and walked two in winning for the first time since May 8. Ugueth Urbina got the final out for his 22nd save.

Kevin Tapani (6-9) lost his fourth straight game. The right-hander, who hasn't won since June 24, yielded three runs on six hits over eight innings.

Grace, who started the game with 1,998 career hits, got No. 2,000 with two outs in the ninth. The Wrigley Field fans stood during the at-bat and gave him a standing ovation after his single to right.

DIAMONDBACKS 16, GIANTS 6: Bernard Gilkey homered and Luis Gonzalez tripled in a seven-run third inning as host Arizona won the first game of a series between the NL West's top teams.

Jay Bell added an RBI double in the third-inning uprising against the Giants' Kirk Rueter (9-6).

Travis Lee ended an 0-for-30 slump with a two-run single as Arizona scored seven more runs in the eighth.

Marvin Benard homered twice, his first career multihomer game, to give him 11 homers for San Francisco. Ellis Burks was 4 for 4 with a double.

METS 7, BREWERS 2: In Milwaukee, Rick Reed won his seventh straight decision and Mike Piazza hit one of three New York homers.

The Mets, 10-1 in Reed's last 11 starts, moved into a first-place tie with Atlanta in the NL East.

Reed (10-3) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out four and walked two for the Mets, who are 14-4 since the all-star break.

Milwaukee starter Hideo Nomo (9-4), released by the Mets in spring training, was tagged for six runs and nine hits in five innings. He gave up back-to-back homers to Robin Ventura and newly acquired Darryl Hamilton in the fourth, as well as Piazza's 22nd in the fifth.

New York took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Rickey Henderson led off with a single, stole second and scored on Edgardo Alfonzo's double. Alfonzo scored when Piazza reached on shortstop Jose Valentin's error.

Ventura led off the fourth with his team-high 23rd home run, and Hamilton followed with his fifth, the sixth time this season the Mets have hit consecutive homers.

Shawon Dunston hit an RBI single with two outs in his first at-bat with New York, making it 5-0.

Dunston came in to play left field for Henderson, who strained his right hip after he doubled in the third inning. Dunston scored on John Olerud's double-play grounder in the ninth to make it 7-2.