Mark McGwire hit his 53rd and 54th homers of the season last night, pulling within three of Sammy Sosa, but the Milwaukee Brewers came from behind to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-4 in 11 innings.
After Sosa hit his 57th earlier in the day, McGwire answered with a pair of long shots into County Stadium's left field bleachers. Brewers starter Scott Karl allowed both homers, McGwire's second and third in three games.
The second homer, a 434-foot drive to left-center off an 0-1 pitch in the fifth inning, tied McGwire with Mel Ott for 14th place on the career list at 511, one behind Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews.
McGwire hit a 3-2 pitch from Karl 419 feet into the left field stands in the first. His second homer scored Ray Lankford and put St. Louis up 3-0.
Closer Ricky Bottalico allowed four hits and two runs in the ninth inning to blow the save and tie the game at 4.
In the 11th, pinch hitter Jeff Cirillo bunted his way aboard and took second on a wild pitch by Juan Acevedo (5-7). After Marquis Grissom walked, Ron Belliard loaded the bases with a swinging bunt. Acevedo then hit Mark Loretta with a 1-0 pitch, forcing in the game-winning run.
DODGERS 8, CUBS 6: Sammy Sosa hit his major league-leading 57th home run, his 14th in 19 games, but Los Angeles showed some power of its own to win in Chicago.
Sosa hit a two-run homer to left-center off Chan Ho Park in the first inning, then struck out twice and flied out twice. He's well ahead of his 66-homer pace last year, when he hit No. 57 in the Cubs' 141st game. Yesterday's homer came in Chicago's 133rd game and moved Sosa within 13 of Mark McGwire's record with 29 games remaining.
"I'm not thinking about the home run race. No matter how many I'm ahead. I'm just not concerned about it," Sosa said.
Todd Hundley's sixth-inning home run gave the Dodgers a 6-5 lead, and Mark Grudzielanek and Gary Sheffield also connected for the Dodgers, who have won 10 of 14.
Park (9-10) won his third straight decision despite allowing five runs and nine hits in five innings. Jeff Shaw pitched the ninth inning for his 30th save in 34 chances.
GIANTS 12, PIRATES 2: Jeff Kent hit his eighth career grand slam as San Francisco stretched its winning streak to seven games with a victory in Pittsburgh. The Giants matched their season high for consecutive wins, first done Aug. 18-25.
Francisco Cordova (8-8) held the Giants to three hits over the first three innings before allowing four runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth.
Kent hit his 18th homer of the season in the fifth, after the Pirates intentionally walked Barry Bonds to load the bases. An inning earlier, Ellis Burks hit a three-run homer, his 27th, off Cordova.
Since coming off the disabled list, Kent has hit safely in 12 of 13 games, going 20 for 55 (.364) with five home runs and 20 RBI. He was out Aug. 3-21 with inflammation in his left foot.
PHILLIES 10, REDS 2: Curt Schilling pitched five strong innings in his first start in nearly a month as Philadelphia stopped a seven-game losing streak, beating visiting Cincinnati. The Reds have lost three straight and eight of 11.
Sean Casey hit his 23rd homer and drove in two runs for the Reds.
The Phillies scored six runs in the eighth including a two-run single by Kevin Jordan and RBI singles by Rico Brogna and Alex Arias. Dennys Reyes walked three, threw two wild pitches and allowed three hits in the inning.
Schilling (15-5), making his first start since Aug. 7, allowed one run and three hits, struck out four and walked two. He threw 75 pitches in his return from the disabled list. The Phillies went 7-17 in his absence.
ASTROS 8, EXPOS 1: Ken Caminiti homered twice and drove in six runs and Mike Hampton pitched seven strong innings for his 18th victory to lead Houston in Montreal.
Caminiti hit his seventh homer off Dan Smith (4-7) leading off the second and hit a two-run shot in the ninth. He added a sacrifice fly in the third and a two-run single in the seventh.
It was Caminiti's 18th career multi-homer game and second this season.
Hampton (18-3) won his ninth straight decision to join teammate Jose Lima as the only 18-game winners in the NL. Boston's Pedro Martinez leads the majors with 19 wins.
Hampton allowed seven hits, including Vladimir Guerrero's 34th homer leading off the fourth. He struck out five and walked three as he lowered his ERA to 2.92.
BRAVES 7, DIAMONDBACKS 3: Kevin Millwood allowed one hit through seven innings and had a two-run single, Andruw Jones homered and took away a homer with a spectacular catch, and Atlanta won for the 13th time in 14 games, stopping visiting Arizona.
Millwood (15-7) has been on a streak, allowing 15 hits in his last five starts. That span, covering 41 innings, included a 10-inning, two-hit performance in his previous start at St. Louis.
PADRES 6, MARLINS 3: Tony Gwynn hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning as San Diego beat Florida in Miami. With the Padres trailing 3-2, Gwynn hit his eighth homer of the season on the first pitch by reliever Vic Darensbourg. The Padres have won six of eight, and the Marlins have lost 11 of 14.
ROCKIES 5, METS 2: Jeff Barry hit a three-run double in the 10th inning off former Colorado reliever Chuck McElroy and the Rockies won in New York. New York had 10 hits and four walks but could manage only two runs, hitting into three double plays and stranding nine runners.