Mark McGwire has been reluctant to talk about his home runs all season. And now, after No. 53, he's having to explain a lot more than how he's hitting them.
McGwire became the first National Leaguer to hit 53 homers in 49 years in the St. Louis Cardinals' 4-3 loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Sunday.McGwire, who broke Babe Ruth's record for homers in a span of three consecutive seasons on Saturday, hit a 2-2 pitch from Ricardo Rincon into the left-field seats at Three Rivers Stadium with two out in the eighth inning.
His sixth homer in five days left McGwire eight short of tying Roger Maris' record of 61 in 1961. McGwire, who has 32 games left, also took a curtain call.
"They kept clapping for about a minute, so I ducked my head out and gave them a wave," McGwire said. "I hope the Pirates didn't mind. I wish everybody in baseball could feel the reception I'm getting."
McGwire is also getting attention for his use of a controversial over-the-counter pill he's been taking for more than a year. He came under increased scrutiny this weekend after it was reported by the Associated Press that he has been using androstenedione, known as "andro," a testosterone-producing pill banned by the NFL and NCAA.
On Sunday, the Cardinals released a statement saying they have no objection to McGwire's use of the pill.
"Due to current research that lacks documentary evidence of any adverse side effects, the Cardinals' medical staff cannot object to Mark's choice to use this legal and over-the-counter supplement," the statement said.
McGwire's homer came just minutes after Chicago's Sammy Sosa hit his 50th homer for the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
"Really, that's really cool," McGwire said when informed about Sosa, who also hit No. 51 in the Cubs' 13-3 loss to Houston.
McGwire and Sosa didn't hit the day's only noteworthy homers. San Francisco's Barry Bonds hit his 400th career homer and San Diego's Greg Vaughn set a career-high with his 43rd this season.
McGwire became just the third NL player to hit as many as 53 homers in a season, joining the Pirates' Ralph Kiner (54 in 1949) and the Chicago Cubs' Hack Wilson, who hit a league-record 56 homers in 1930.
ASTROS 13, CUBS 3: Sosa's two homers gave him the second-most in club history behind the NL record of 56 hit by Hack Wilson in 1930.
PADRES 13, BREWERS 11: Jim Leyritz's two-run double in the 10th helped San Diego win a wild one at Milwaukee.
The teams combined for 33 hits against 12 pitchers and took 2 hours, 3 minutes to complete the first four innings.
DIAMONDBACKS 4, METS 3: New York blew a bases-loaded, no-out threat in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Trailing by two runs, the Mets loaded the bases against Gregg Olson on three singles. But Olson struck out pinch-hitter Matt Franco, got pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga on an RBI grounder and retired Tony Phillips on a groundout for his 22nd save.
GIANTS 10, MARLINS 5: At Miami, Bonds' homer made him the first player to hit 400 homer and steal 400 bases.
Bonds reached the unprecedented milestone in the second inning with his 26th homer against Kirt Ojala (1-3). Bonds has 438 steals.
Three other players hit 300 homers and stole 300 bases - Willie Mays (660 homers, 338 stolen bases), Andre Dawson (436 and 314) and Bonds' father, Bobby (332 and 461).
REDS 10, EXPOS 0: Sean Casey hit a three-run homer and drove in five runs, and Jason Bere (1-0) pitched seven shutout innings at Montreal.
ROCKIES 5, PHILLIES 2: Mike Lansing hit a three-run homer and John Thomson won his third consecutive decision as Colorado won at Philadelphia.
BRAVES 12, DODGERS 7: At Atlanta, Greg Maddux became the NL's first 17-game winner despite one of the worst starts of his career.
The four-time Cy Young Award winner, coming off his 200th win and leading the majors with a 1.65 ERA, was pounded for 10 hits and seven earned runs but managed to hang on until the fifth because Dodgers starter Carlos Perez (7-13) was even worse.