McGwire lifts Cards

Thursday, September 27, 2001

HOUSTON -- Mark McGwire broke out of a slump with two home runs and Darryl Kile allowed four hits in seven shutout innings, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the Houston Astros 5-1 Wednesday night.

The victory was St. Louis' second in a row over the Astros and pulled the Cardinals within 3 1/2 games of Houston in the NL Central Division.

St. Louis started the day with a three-game lead over San Francisco in the wild card race.

McGwire gave Kile a boost with his 26th homer in the fifth inning for a 3-0 lead. McGwire's two-run, 418-foot blast bounced on the train tracks atop the left-field fence and out of Enron Field.

Before hitting his first homer, McGwire was 1-for-19 with 10 strikeouts in his previous 20 at-bats, including strikeouts in his first two at-bats Wednesday. McGwire went 2-for-4 and raised his season average to .185.

McGwire added a solo homer off Octavio Dotel in the eighth for his third multihomer game this season and the 67th of his career.

McGwire's 581st career home run was the first homer allowed by Dotel since June 3 by Tim Bogar against Los Angeles.

Kile, who had lost three of his previous four decisions, escaped the fourth after Julio Lugo reached on an infield hit and Jeff Bagwell walked to start the inning. Kile struck out Lance Berkman and Richard Hidalgo and Orlando Merced flew out.

Kile struck out 10 and walked two.

Pinch-hitter J.D. Drew's sacrifice fly scored a run for the Cardinals in the seventh.

Ron Villone (6-8) didn't allow a hit until Jim Edmonds' one-out double in the fourth. Craig Paquette followed with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead.

Jeff Bagwell's 38th homer in the ninth off T.J. Mathews ended the shutout.

NOTES: Bagwell needs two walks to become the first player to get at least 30 homers, 100 RBIs, 100 runs and 100 walks in six consecutive seasons. ... McGwire is 5-for-15 lifetime against Villone, with all five hits being home runs.

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