Cardinals 5, Marlins 1

Wednesday, May 24th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Mark McGwire and Ray Lankford hit back-to-back home runs for the second straight game -- with McGwire becoming the fastest player to reach 20 in one season -- as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Florida Marlins 5-1 Wednesday night.

The Cardinals have hit consecutive homers 13 times, two shy of the NL record set by the 1956 Cincinnati Reds. Their total was reduced by one earlier in the day after consultation with The Sporting News, Elias Sports Bureau and the Society for American Baseball Research.

St. Louis had been counting three straight homers on April 6 as two back-to-back instances.

The 1996 Seattle Mariners set the major league record of 18, hitting three in a row once and back-to-back homers 17 times.

Edgar Renteria and Jim Edmonds singled to start the sixth and McGwire snapped a 1-1 tie with his major league-leading 20th homer,
a towering drive to left center off Vladimir Nunez (0-4) that landed in the first row of the bleachers. Lankford hit another towering drive, his ninth homer, to put the Cardinals ahead 5-1.

Both homers, which gave the Cardinals a major-league leading 94, came on the first pitch.

McGwire has homered in three straight games, has six in six games and 542 for his career, six behind Mike Schmidt for seventh
place on the career list.

He also reached 20 homers in 35 games, six fewer than the previous mark, set by Mickey Mantle in 1956 and matched by McGwire two years ago.

The homer was McGwire's 100th in 201 career games at Busch Stadium. Lankford is the career leader at Busch with 102 in 655

Garrett Stephenson (7-0) pitched a five-hitter for his first complete game since Sept. 24, 1997, against Atlanta, retiring his final 13. He struck out five and walked three, sending the Marlins to their eighth loss in nine games.

He's 13-3 since joining the Cardinals last season, and St. Louis began the night averaging 9.3 runs in his starts.

Nunez, who had been 3-1 with an 0.82 ERA in four relief appearances against the Cardinals, gave up five runs and nine hits in six innings. He's 3-11 for his career as a starter.

Notes: Luis Castillo walked and singled, reaching base for the 13th straight game. But Castillo, who leads the majors with 18 steals, was thrown out in the first and fourth innings by backup Catcher Eli Marrero and has been caught stealing eight times. He limped off the field favoring his left knee after getting caught in the fifth and was taken out of the game. ... Marrero entered the game 0-for-6 throwing out runners. ... Lankford has been involved in only three of the Cardinals' back-to-back homer instances.