1997 Game Recap: 1st NL Home Run
Cardinals 6, Phillies 1

ST. LOUIS (Aug 9, 1997 - 1997 EDT) -- There is a brand new love affair for St. Louis baseball fans.

Mark McGwire, the burly slugger acquired July 31 in a trade with the Oakland A's, was greeted like a conquering hero by a boisterous, awe-struck crowd in his Cardinals' home debut. And he didn't disappoint the home folks Friday night as he belted a 441-foot homer -- the longest hit at Busch Stadium this season -- to help the Cardinals snap a losing streak at five and beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-1.

"It was unbelievable, overwhelming," McGwire said of his reception. "I don't think I've ever heard a crowd so loud in a regular-season game before.

"I've never experienced anything like this before. It was tremendous."

A crowd of 32,530 gave McGwire a standing ovation in his first at-bat, a pop up, and they went bonkers when he connected for his first home run as a Cardinal in the third inning, a drive down the left field line that nearly hooked foul.

"I saw it hooking, and then I lost it in the lights," he said. "Then I finally saw it hit the net. It was a good feeling. Long strikes (foul balls) like that are not good."

Even Phillies manager Terry Francona was taken with the St. Louis fans.

"They are impressive," he said. "This is a team that's just coming off a 2-9 road trip. I'm talking as a fan of baseball.

"They were really impressive."

Until his homer, McGwire had been in a slump. He had been 2-for-26 -- both singles -- as a Cardinal, and hadn't homered in 71 at-bats, since July 16 with Oakland when he connected twice against Kansas City. McGwire had 34 homers with Oakland before his trade to St. Louis.

"It was a relief just to hit the ball hard," he said of the homer. "I didn't feel like I was in a slump where I was missing my pitches. I just wasn't getting the pitches to drive."

Ray Lankford, a last-minute insertion into the lineup, added his 23rd homer for the Cardinals, and Donovan Osborne and two other pitchers combined for a three-hitter.

Lankford, who has missed several recent games due to a hamstring pull, told manager Tony La Russa just before the game that he could play.

"I'm glad to get back in there," he said. "It was great seeing (McGwire) hit one. The fans wanted to see him go deep and he went deep."

Lankford's homer -- which came immediately before McGwire's and was also off starter Mark Leiter (7-12) -- was the first St. Louis home run in 12 games, a span of 390 at-bats.

Osborne (2-4) allowed three hits, no earned runs, struck out six and walked none in seven innings. Last Sunday he surrendered eight runs in three innings in a 10-l loss to the same Phillies.

"Everything was working tonight," said Osborne, who was making just his third start since missing nearly three months with a pulled groin. "Everything was up in the last game, and everything was down in this game."

Osborne appreciated McGwire's presence and power.

"It was beautiful," he said of the homer. "He brings an extra little whomp. It's amazing to see that guy hit, even fly balls for outs. He's so powerful."

An error by third baseman Scott Rolen led to two unearned runs for St. Louis in the first.

Delino DeShields and Ron Gant both singled and, after a double steal, Rolen let Gary Gaetti's grounder go through his legs as both runners scored.

The Phillies got an unearned run in the fourth. Gregg Jefferies singled, went to second on shortstop David Bell's throwing error, moved up on a passed ball by Mike Difelice and scored on Mike Lieberthal's sacrifice fly.

Bell and rookie Scarborough Green added RBI singles in the Cardinals eighth.

Notes: McGwire put on a show in batting practice as 11 of the 25 balls he hit went over the fence. ... Phillies outfielder Ruben Amaro is batting .386 (17-for-44) in his last 11 starts. Teammate Midre Cummings is hitting .382 (13-for-34) in his last 14 games. ... Despite being 53-62, the Cardinals have outscored their opponents 467-458. ... Gaetti has not had an extra base hit since July 21.

| Previous Page |