Now, even Mark McGwire is talking about Roger Maris.

All season, McGwire said no one should start worrying about Maris' mark of 61 home runs until someone reached 50 by Sept. 1.McGwire hit No. 50 Thursday night in the first game of a doubleheader, then hit No. 51 in the second game as the St. Louis Cardinals split with the New York Mets.

"I'd have to say that I do have a shot," he said. "But I know it's going to be tough."

McGwire became the first player to hit at least 50 homers in three straight seasons. Only Babe Ruth (1920-21 and 1927-28) and McGwire, who had 52 in 1996 and 58 last year, did it twice in a row.

"To be the first player to do it three consecutive years, you go back through the thousands of power hitters who played this game and nobody's ever done it," he said. "And now I can sit here and say I'm the first player to do it. I'm pretty proud of it."

McGwire hit No. 50 off Willie Blair in the seventh inning of the opener, a 2-0 win for the Cardinals. He hit No. 51 off Rick Reed in the first inning of the second game, a 5-4 loss at Shea Stadium.

McGwire pumped his right fist as he rounded first base, and the crowd of 40,308 greeted him with a rousing standing ovation.

McGwire wanted to get the ball from his 50th homer to give to the Hall of Fame. But the fan who caught it, 31-year-old Mike Scelsi of Yonkers, N.Y., wouldn't give it up.

"The sad thing is that all these balls will be held up for ransom, it's sad," McGwire said. "I would like to have it."

PADRES 2, BRAVES 0: Kevin Brown combined with three relievers on an 11-hit shutout as San Diego won at Atlanta.

Brown (16-4) joined teammate Andy Ashby and Atlanta's Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine as the top winners in the NL.

BREWERS 6, ASTROS 5: Fernando Vina got four hits, including a one-out single in the 10th inning that gave Milwaukee a win over Houston.

The Astros took a 5-4 lead into the ninth, but reliever Billy Wagner dropped a throw while covering first base and Marc Newfield hit a tying double.

In the 10th, Mike Magnante (4-6) hit Geoff Jenkins with a pitch, Darrin Jackson doubled and Vina singled.

CUBS 7, GIANTS 3: Glenallen Hill connected for a pinch-hit grand slam against his former team, leading Chicago over San Francisco at Wrigley Field.

Barry Bonds hit his 25th homer for Giants. It was his 399th career home run - he needs one more to become the first player in major league history to hit 400 home runs and steal 400 bases.

PHILLIES 11, D'BACKS 1, 1st game: Curt Schilling struck out 14 and pitched a four-hitter for Philadelphia in the opener.

Schilling (12-11) pitched his 12th complete game of the year. He is 3-0 with a 0.72 ERA in 25 innings against the Diamondbacks.

D'BACKS 12, PHILLIES 9, 2nd game: Devon White hit a three-run homer in the top of the 11th inning for Arizona in the second game.

White tied a career high with five RBIs. His 17th homer was his third hit of the game.

ROCKIES 6, EXPOS 3: Darryl Kile struck out a career-high 14 - the most ever by a Colorado pitcher - in a victory at Montreal.

Kile (10-14) won his third straight start and earned his first road victory since May 10.

PIRATES 6, REDS 5: Jason Kendall doubled, stole third and scored when Manny Martinez singled over the drawn-in outfield in the ninth inning at Pittsburgh.

Martinez drove in three runs as the Pirates won for the eighth time in 10 games.

DODGERS 2, MARLINS 1: Jim Eisenreich, traded from Florida to the Dodgers earlier this season, drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded in the 10th inning that lifted Los Angeles.


TWINS 9, YANKEES 4: At Minnesota, the New York Yankees sustained another hiccup interrupting its domination of the schedule by losing 9-4 to the Twins.

The defeat ended the Yankees' modern major league record of 48 consecutive games with a lead and gave them their first losing streak in a month.

RANGERS 8, INDIANS 2: Juan Gonzalez became Texas' career hit leader when he connected for his 35th home run as Texas won at home against Cleveland.

Gonzalez's homer off Dave Burba (10-9) was his 1,181st career hit, pushing him past Jim Sundberg for the most in Rangers history.

DEVIL RAYS 4, ORIOLES 2: Tony Saunders pitched seven innings of four-hit ball and Bobby Smith snapped an eighth-inning tie with a sacrifice fly as Tampa Bay won at Baltimore.

Cal Ripken tied Brooks Robinson's franchise record of 2,848 hits with his 10th homer of the season.

ROYALS 8, RED SOX 2: Terry Pendleton hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs as Kansas City beat visiting Boston and snapped a five-game losing streak.

BLUE JAYS 7, MARINERS 0: Roger Clemens won his 10th straight decision and pitched his first shutout of the season, leading Toronto to victory at Seattle.

Jose Cruz Jr. hit his second homer in two nights to lead a 14-hit Blue Jay attack.

ATHLETICS 3, WHITE SOX 1: Kenny Rogers pitched seven strong innings for his 100th career victory and Miguel Tejada backed him with a two-run homer as Oakland beat Chicago.

ANGELS 13, TIGERS 2: Gary DiSarcina drove in three runs and rookie Troy Glaus broke out of a slump with a career-high three hits to lead Anaheim past visiting Detroit.