9th Longest Home Run Game Recap
Cardinals 7, Mets 5

FLUSHING, New York (Sun Aug 22 20:45:01 1999) -- Mark McGwire put on another awesome display of power, but the New York Mets overcame it with an abundance of heart.

McGwire homered twice to become the first player to reach 50 in four straight seasons, but John Olerud hit a grand slam in the eighth inning and Edgardo Alfonzo singled in the winning run in the ninth in the Mets' 8-7 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

McGwire blasted a 502-foot shot more than halfway up the scoreboard in right-center field in the first inning and hit No. 50 leading off the seventh to push the lead to 5-1 and halt a streak of 25 2/3 scoreless innings by New York's bullpen.

McGwire was asked after the game what 50 homers in four straight seasons meant to him.

"I'll find out when I retire. You set a standard for yourself and I accomplished it again. I'm just setting standards for others to break, that's about it. It's not too shabby a year I guess."

The Mets woke up to tie it with a five-run eighth, yielded the go-ahead run in the ninth and scored twice in their final at-bat for their 39th come-from-behind victory, the second-highest total in the National League.

Armando Benitez (2-2) gave up the run in the ninth but got the win.

Ricky Bottalico (2-7) came on with one out and no runners on in the ninth but was tattered for both runs on two hits and a pair of walks for his fifth blown save. Bottalico had converted each of his eight career save chances against the Mets.

Lance Painter started the ninth for the Cardinals with a 7-6 lead and retired pinch-hitter Darryl Hamilton before giving way to Bottalico. Rey Ordonez and pinch-hitter Matt Franco drew walks and Rickey Henderson doubled in the tying run. Alfonzo then bounced a 3-2 pitch between shortstop and third base with the infield drawn in for the win.

Henderson has reached base 10 times in his last 11 plate appearances and the 40-year-old is hitting .338.

"I just got a fastball. He was wild and I'm a patient hitter," Henderson said. "We played nine innings, it shows a lot of character. Most people came here wanting to see Mark to hit a home run and us to win the game."

"Rickey is there game after game after game and the only headline he gets is he's not on base after a clutch hit," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "I think it's better than vintage Rickey."

Benitez walked Drew and gave up a single to McGwire to start the ninth. After Ray Lankford fouled out, Drew stole third and scored when Fernando Tatis hit into forceout and beat the relay throw as Olerud had to lunge off the base.

The Mets trailed 6-1 when Ordonez doubled to start the eighth. Pinch-hitter Luis Lopez grounded out and Henderson walked to chase starter Darren Oliver for Rich Croushore. Alfonzo walked to load the bases and Olerud connected on his fifth career grand slam and his 15th homer of the season. Mike Piazza followed with his 30th homer to tie it.

"I thought we needed a big hit by John," said Valentine of Olerud, who had not homered since July 30 and tied a career high with five RBI. "It was a good feeling in the dugout. You would never know we were down 6-1."

Joe McEwing led off the game with his eighth homer and McGwire doubled the lead one out later. McGwire's shot broke a light on Lankford's No. 16 on the scoreboard lineup indicator.

"I've never seen a ball hit like that -- it broke a light on the 16," Valentine said. "He's a special hitter."

"That was pretty good, that did amaze me," McGwire said. "Someone said that MCI (tale of the tape) misjudged it again."

Former Met Alberto Castillo capped the three-run first with a sacrifice fly.

To start the third, Tatis singled, stole second, went to third on Piazza's overthrow and scored on a single by Willie McGee. Henderson got back the run in the fourth when he singled, stole second with one out and scored on a base hit by Olerud.

McGwire homered to open the seventh and Castillo started the eighth with his third home run for a five-run lead.