Cardinals 8, Rockies 4

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ST. LOUIS (AP)—The St. Louis Cardinals celebrated Mark McGwire’s return with a few home runs.

Scott Rolen homered on consecutive at-bats and had four RBIs, and Albert Pujols also connected as the Cardinals rallied from a three-run deficit to beat the Colorado Rockies 8-4 Saturday.

McGwire was given a pregame standing ovation by the crowd of 46,471. It was his first appearance at Busch Stadium since retiring after the 2001 season.

He threw out the ceremonial first pitch with 18-month-old son Max cradled in his left arm, a wild high and inside delivery that hit a technician standing behind the plate in the leg.

“It was pretty awesome,” McGwire said. “I tell people all the time, this is the best baseball city in the country. There’s no other better fans in the country that appreciate their baseball, and that’s the biggest reason why I stayed here.”

Rolen has never hit more than 31 homers in a season, but for now he’s ahead of McGwire’s then-record 70-homer pace in 1998. His second two-homer game of the season came in the Cardinals’ 12th game, while McGwire got his seventh in the 13th game six years ago.

“If this is July and you have a couple of good weeks, I don’t think it’s as celebrated as it is at the start of the season,” Rolen said. “But I’m not going to complain about anything, I know that, and I’m not going to analyze it.

“I’m just going to go home and come back tomorrow and try to win a ballgame and close my eyes and keep swinging.”

Rolen leads the major leagues with 23 RBIs, also getting a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Earlier in the day he benefited from an official scoring change that gave him a two-run triple in Friday night’s 13-5 victory. The play originally was called an error on by left fielder Matt Holliday by official scorer Mike Smith of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“I can’t complain about that,” Rolen said. “I was on a roll before I even swung the bat.”

Jason Marquis (1-1) allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings to help the Cardinals win their second straight after a 1-6 start at home, their worst since 1973. Todd Helton hit a two-run homer off him in the third.

Marquis minimized potential damage in bases-loaded, none-out situations in the first and fifth, allowing only one run.

“Today was a battling day, definitely,” he said. “Hopefully, I won’t find myself in that position too often.”

Colorado built a 3-0 lead on Vinny Castilla’s sacrifice fly in the first and Todd Helton’s second homer in two games, a two-run drive in the third.

Shawn Estes (2-1) entered with a 1.29 ERA and had been 2-0 for the first time since winning his first four decisions in 1997. He lasted 4 1-3 innings, giving up seven runs and 10 hits.

“When we didn’t score in the fifth, it might have affected me a little bit, but I’d really like to have the two curveballs back I threw to Rolen,” Estes said. “He’s a good hitter, and I really set him up.”

Rolen hit a two-run homer in the fourth, and the Cardinals chased Estes with five runs in the fifth.

Before this series the Cardinals were swept in a three-game series by the Astros, who outscored them 26-9. They outscored the Rockies 21-9 in the firsttwo games of the three-game series.


So Taguchi was 3-for-5 and Jim Edmonds had two doubles. … The Cardinals, who had 13 hits, are 5-0 against the NL West, outscoring opponents 50-21. … Rockies catchers are 0-for-12 throwing out runners attempting to steal, with Edgar Renteria and So Taguchi swiping bases Saturday. … Pujols has scored in nine of his last 10 games. … Reggie Sanders had an RBI doublein the fifth, giving him five RBIs in the first two games of the series.

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