Mark McGwire lowered his countdown to single digits.
McGwire broke Babe Ruth's record for homers in three consecutive seasons with his 52nd this year as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 14-4 Saturday night in Pittsburgh.McGwire has 33 games to match Roger Maris' record of 61 homers set in 1961. He powered an 0-2 pitch by Francisco Cordova into the right-center stands in the first inning, a 477-foot drive that was the longest in Three Rivers Stadium this season. It was only his third opposite-field homer all year.
McGwire has 162 homers in three seasons, including 52 in 1996 and 58 in 1997. Ruth hit 161 from 1926-28.
McGwire became the first NL player to reach 52 homers since George Foster for the Cincinnati Reds in 1977. He also set a Cardinals' record for homers in consecutive seasons .
His fifth homer in four days electrified a sellout crowd of 45,082 - only the Pirates' second of the season - that gave him standing ovations with every at-bat and booed when Cordova walked him in the third inning.
ASTROS 8, CUBS 3: At Chicago, Randy Johnson didn't get to face Kerry Wood, but he did strike out Sammy Sosa. Johnson allowed two hits in seven innings.
METS 9, DIAMONDBACKS 4: At New York, Mike Piazza hit his major league-leading fourth grand slam, made a sliding catch into the Arizona dugout and threw out a runner trying to steal.
The Mets took a one-game lead in the NL wild-card race over Chicago.
BRAVES 7, DODGERS 5: At Atlanta, Walt Weiss and Gerald Williams each hit two-run singles and Chipper Jones hit his 30th homer in a game that included a second-inning brawl.
In the second inning, Atlanta's Andres Galarraga was hit by Darren Dreifort's pitch and charged the mound. Galarraga swung at Dreifort's head as he lunged toward the pitcher and the two players fell to the ground as both dugouts emptied.
PHILLIES 6, ROCKIES 1: At Philadelphia, Paul Byrd (2-0) pitched a five-hitter for his second straight complete game.
Byrd, claimed from the Braves on waivers on Aug. 14, never had a complete game before his shutout against Houston on Monday.
REDS 4, EXPOS 0: At Montreal, Steve Parris (3-3) pitched a three-hitter for his second career shutout, sending Montreal to its 10th loss in 12 games.
Parris retired the final 17 in a row after allowing back-to-back singles with one out in the fourth.
GIANTS 5, MARLINS 4: At Miami, pinch-hitter Marvin Benard's RBI single capped a three-run rally in the ninth inning, and Jeff Kent hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th to lead San Francisco past Florida.
The Giants, trailing 4-1, scored three times with two out in the ninth against Antonio Alfonseca.
BREWERS 8, PADRES 4: At Milwaukee, rookie Rafael Roque got his first major league victory despite giving up three solo homers in the Milwaukee Brewers' win over the San Diego Padres.
ORIOLES 6, INDIANS 3: At Baltimore, Scott Erickson pitched a seven-hitter for his AL-best ninth complete game and the Baltimore Orioles took advantage of eight walks and a balk to beat the Cleveland Indians.
Cal Ripken homered for the Orioles.
ROYALS 3, DEVIL RAYS 2: At St. Petersburg, Fla., Jose Rosado (7-9) overcame a first-inning jam to allow just three hits in eight innings. Jeff Montgomery pitched the ninth for his 28th save in 32 chances, allowing Fred McGriff's 15th homer.
ATHLETICS 7-7, TIGERS 2-1: At Oakland, Calif., Ben Grieve went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Tom Candiotti pitched a six-hitter as Oakland completed a doubleheader sweep of the Detroit, stretching its winning streak to six.
Gil Heredia (1-0) won in his first major league start since 1995 as the A's won the opener.
TWINS 4, RED SOX 3: At Minneapolis, Paul Molitor celebrated his 42nd birthday with his 3,281st career hit, a game-winning bunt single with two outs in the ninth inning that gave Minnesota a win over Boston.
YANKEES 12, RANGERS 9: At Arlington, Texas, on a wild night when the Yankees' pitching deserted them, Ryan Bradley came through with a win in his first major league game.
Scott Brosius hit a three-run homer off former-Yankee John Wetteland in the eighth inning, and New York overcame five RBIs from Juan Gonzalez to beat Texas.
MARINERS 5, WHITE SOX 4 (11 innings): At Seattle, Edgar Martinez singled home the winning run in the 11th inning, giving Seattle a victory over Chicago.
ANGELS 5, BLUE JAYS 1: At Anaheim, Calif., Steve Sparks scattered seven hits in seven innings, and Tim Salmon hit a two-run homer as Anaheim beat Toronto.