1997 Game Recap: 2nd 50 HR Season
Giants 7, Cardinals 6 in 10 innings
SAN FRANCISCO (Sep 11, 1997 - 03:45 EDT) -- Mark McGwire earned a spot in baseball history. The San Francisco Giants earned one of their biggest wins of the season.
McGwire joined Babe Ruth as the only players to hit 50 homers in consecutive seasons, but his St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Giants 7-6 Wednesday on Damon Berryhill's RBI single in the 10th inning.
McGwire led off the third inning with a 446-foot drive, his 16th homer since St. Louis acquired him from Oakland on July 31. McGwire, who hit a major league-leading 52 homers for the Athletics last season, became the first player with back-to-back 50-homer seasons since Ruth did it in 1927 and 1928. Ruth also accomplished the feat in 1920 and 1921.
"It's overwhelming any time you link your name with someone like that," McGwire said. "With all the ups and downs in my career, it's pretty incredible what I've done."
McGwire, back in the Bay area for the first time since the trade, became the sixth player to reach 50 homers twice, joining Ruth -- who did it four times -- and Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Ralph Kiner.
McGwire and Ken Griffey Jr., who began the day with 50 homers for the Seattle Mariners, became only the fifth pair of players to hit 50 homers in the same season. This is the first time it's been done in consecutive seasons.
McGwire and Brady Anderson (50) did it last year. The other pairs were Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle (1961), Kiner and Johnny Mize (1947) and Hank Greenberg and Foxx (1938).
McGwire was not ready to start thinking seriously about Maris' record of 61 homers in a season. The Cardinals have 17 games left to play.
"Let's just savor the moment now, and if it happens it happens," he said.
San Francisco won in the 10th after Lance Painter (0-1) walked Barry Bonds leading off. Bonds advanced to third on a pair of groundouts, J.T. Snow was intentionally walked. Berryhill, a pinch hitter, followed with a liner over the head of center fielder Ray Lankford.
Berryhill was mobbed at first base by his teammates. The Giants would close within one-half game of NL-leading Los Angeles, which lost to Atlanta 7-0 on Wednesday night.
"That was the win of the year," said Giants manager Dusty Baker, who used 22 players. "I was down to my last man. It's been a while for that to happen, but that's why you have a bigger roster in September."
Rod Beck (5-3) pitched two scoreless innings of relief for the win.
Stan Javier's solo homer off Dennis Eckersley with one out in the bottom of the ninth sent the game into extra innings. The Giants also scored a run in the seventh and eighth as they rallied from a 6-3 deficit.
Eckersley raised his hands over his head in frustration as Javier's eighth homer of the season sailed just over the fence down the right-field line.
"I don't think I can hit a ball any harder, but it was so low I didn't think it was going out," said Javier, who also had an RBI single in the seventh.
McGwire, who homered off Shawn Estes, has six homers in his last six games. He also homered in the Cardinals' 5-3 win over the Giants on Tuesday night.
Estes, who after singling in the third kiddingly told first baseman McGwire that he was happy to have made history, said he knew the ball was gone as soon as McGwire connected.
"I watched it to see how far it would go," Estes said of the longest homer hit in San Francisco this season.
St. Louis took a 6-3 lead with three runs in the seventh. Royce Clayton had an RBI double and Gary Gaetti added a two-run single.
But Javier's RBI single in the bottom of the inning and Jeff Kent's run-scoring single in the eighth pulled the Giants within 6-5.
Bonds drove in three runs for San Francisco with a two-run homer in the first, his 33rd, and a sacrifice fly in the third. The Giants have won four of five.
The Cardinals scored two in the second on an RBI single by Mike Difelice and a bases-loaded walk to Delino DeShields.
Estes allowed four runs and six hits in six-plus innings. He struck out 10 while failing in his second straight bid for his 19th win.
Rigo Beltran of the Cardinals, making his first major-league start, allowed three runs and six hits in five innings. Beltran replaced Donovan Osborne, scratched because of complications due to a hernia.
Notes: The Giants are 10-2 in extra-inning games this season. ... San Francisco center fielder Darryl Hamilton left in the second with tightness in his left hip flexor. ... Ron Gant, who set a Cardinals record with his 148th strikeout of the season on Tuesday night, fanned three more times Wednesday. ... Giants middle reliever Doug Henry, who gave up two runs in the seventh without getting an out, has allowed 11 earned runs in his last 3 2-3 innings. ... St. Louis went 8-3 against the Giants this season. ... The Giants have won 19 games in their last at-bat this year.
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