McGwire homers in first postseason at-bat since 1992

By R.B. FALLSTROM - AP Sports Writer

October 5, 2000 - ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Mark McGwire gets one at-bat a game these days, and he made this one count.

McGwire, limited to pinch-hitting duty by tendinitis in his right knee, hit an eighth-inning home run for the St. Louis Cardinals' final run in their 10-4 win over the Atlanta Braves Thursday.

``Mark is the heart-and-soul of this organization,'' said Will Clark, who hit a three-run homer in the first.

``All that does is just give him more confidence, and I think it gives the team more confidence to know that hey, he's on the bench and he can go up there with one swing of the bat and put a run on the board.''

McGwire's right knee, which caused him to go on the disabled list for two months starting in early July, has been slow to respond to treatment. But there's nothing wrong with his bat.

Two of McGwire's 32 regular-season homers came after he returned from the disabled list Sept. 8.

On Thursday, bringing back memories of Kirk Gibson's homer for Los Angeles in the 1988 World Series, he lined a 1-2 pitch from Mike Remlinger over the center field wall, a drive estimated at 412 feet, for his fifth career postseason homer.

``The expectations that everybody has on me are so great, it doesn't just happen,'' McGwire said. ``You just see the ball and hit it, and just hope you get lucky. I didn't think it was going to get out. I wasn't sure I had enough.''

McGwire is unable to play first base because of pain in the knee, and comes out for a pinch runner whenever he reaches base. That was the case in Game 1 when McGwire drew an intentional walk in the eighth inning.

As he rounded the bases, he kept one thought in mind: ``Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot,'' he said.

After McGwire rounded the bases, the crowd demanded a curtain call and he delivered. McGwire is making his first postseason appearance since 1992 with Oakland.

``I've always said the electricity in St. Louis, there's no place close to it,'' he said. ``You have to experience it. You have to come here and watch it.''

Like the rest of the team, McGwire wasn't celebrating the Cardinals' 2-0 series lead. St. Louis can wrap up the best-of-five playoff on Saturday.

``It ain't over 'till it's over as far as I'm concerned,'' McGwire said. ``We've got to keep playing the way we're playing right now. I'm having a great time watching this team play and I'm just happy I'm a part of it.''

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