SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Mark McGwire hit a three-run homer in the second inning of the St. Louis Cardinals' game Monday night against the San Francisco Giants, tying Sammy Sosa for the major league lead with 36 homers this season.

McGwire's ninth homer in his last 12 games tied him with Lou Gehrig for 16th place on the career list with 493 home runs. The shot went over the bleachers in left field.

With 255 homers since the start of the 1995 season, McGwire is one home run away from Babe Ruth's record for most homers in five consecutive seasons. Ruth hit 256 in 1926-30.