Baseball: McGwire in 500 club

MARK McGWIRE became the fastest player in major league history to hit 500 home runs, then took his total to 501 on Thursday. With two out in the third inning of a game against the San Diego Padres, the St Louis Cardinals slugger hit a pitch from Andy Ashby on to the grassy area beyond the centre-field fence to become the 16th member of the 500-homer club.

He reached the coveted milestone in 5,487 at-bats. Babe Ruth, the next fastest, did it in 5,801. "I knew I hit it squarely, but I hit it squarely upwards," McGwire said. "We've been having a lot of wind above the stadium that's been blowing some balls back. But I wasn't sure until I saw [centre fielder Eric Owens] give up on the ball."

The brawny first baseman was mobbed by team-mates after touching the plate, circling the bases for his 43rd home run of the season, after setting the all-time record of 70 last year.