Mark McGwire is one swing away from his milestone. Tony Gwynn can reach his with two.
McGwire hit his 499th career home run and Tony Gwynn had a grand slam and two singles, giving him 2,998 career hits, before a sellout crowd hoping to see history last night in St. Louis.
McGwire and the St. Louis Cardinals beat Gwynn and the San Diego Padres, 7-6, on an eighth-inning RBI single by Eli Marrero.
"There was some electricity in the park," Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa said. "There'll be more tomorrow."
Both players said they would pay to see the other try for history when the two teams meet again today.
"If you love the game of baseball, I would think you'd try to find a way into the ballpark," McGwire said. "It should be exciting."
Gwynn got a standing ovation after his hits, which left him two shy of becoming the 22nd member of the 3,000-hit club. His third career grand slam in the fifth inning put the Padres ahead, 6-2, and drew an even larger ovation from the 43,546 fans.
McGwire had been having a quiet night, going 1 for 3 with a bases-loaded infield single, before hitting a 1-0 pitch from reliever Donne Wall an estimated 436 feet in the seventh inning.
It was McGwire's 15th homer in 20 games and No. 42 of the season, keeping him even with Chicago's Sammy Sosa, who homered earlier yesterday. McGwire is one homer away from becoming the 16th member of the 500-homer club.
McGwire and Sosa have homered on the same day 36 times the last two seasons, including 15 times this year. McGwire leads the National League with 99 RBI, including 11 in the last six games.
CUBS 5, EXPOS 1: Steve Trachsel pitched a five-hitter to win for the second time in 15 starts and Sammy Sosa hit his 42nd home run to lead Chicago at Wrigley Field.
Sosa led off the sixth inning by hitting an 0-1 pitch from Jeremy Powell (0-4) into the left field bleachers to give Chicago a 3-0 lead. Sosa, who has six homers in his last seven games, is tied with St. Louis's Mark McGwire for the major league lead.
DODGERS 2, ASTROS 1: Kevin Brown pitched a four-hitter to continue his recent mastery of Houston as Los Angeles won on the road.
Brown (12-6) struck out seven and walked two in his second complete game of the season. Brown retired 10 in a row at one point to improve to 3-2 in the regular season against the Astros.
Brown has won his last three starts against Houston, including a 2-1 victory with 16 strikeouts while pitching for the San Diego Padres in last season's playoffs. The 16 strikeouts were the second most in playoff history, behind Bob Gibson's 17 in the 1968 World Series.
REDS 6, ROCKIES 3: In Cincinnati, Denny Neagle won his second straight start and Barry Larkin had a two-run triple to lift the Reds.
The majors' best road team improved its home record to .500 for the first time this season. The Reds are 28-28 at Cinergy Field, 34-15 on the road.
While Cincinnati won for the ninth time in 11 games to pace Houston in the NL Central, the Rockies matched the low point of their season. Colorado is 7-14 since the all-star break and has fallen 13 games under .500 (47-60) for the second time this season.
DIAMONDBACKS 8, GIANTS 4: Steve Finley hit two of Arizona's five home runs in the home win.
Jay Bell, Finley and Luis Gonzalez hit home runs in a five-run first inning against 24-year-old right-hander Joe Nathan (2-2), who was recalled from Class AAA Fresno to start in place of struggling Mark Gardner.
Gardner replaced Nathan in the second inning and yielded a leadoff home run to pitcher Brian Anderson, the first homer of the left-hander's major league career.
PHILLIES 4, MARLINS 1: Paul Byrd allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings and Rico Brogna hit his second homer in as many nights as Philadelphia won on the road.
Byrd (13-6) surrendered 10 hits -- all singles -- and two walks, but got the Marlins to hit into three double plays. He improved to 7-1 on the road. The Marlins lost for the fourth consecutive game and sixth in their last seven.
PIRATES 3, BRAVES 2: In Pittsburgh, John Smoltz remained winless in six starts since June 18 as the Pirates took advantage of second baseman Bret Boone's throwing error to secure the win.
Smoltz (8-5) is 0-3 during the slump. He was on the disabled list July 5-24 because of a strained right elbow. The right-hander yielded one earned run and five hits in seven innings.
METS 9, BREWERS 5: Robin Ventura homered for the seventh time in eight games and Kenny Rogers earned his first victory in the NL as the Mets completed a three-game sweep in Milwaukee.