Monday, June 21, 1982 - At Busch Stadium II (Dave LaPoint - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies (Marty Bystrom - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance: 19,14
The Cardinals blew an early lead, had some missed opportunities to put the game away, and had a couple of base running blunders, before finally putting the Phillies out of their misery. Final score: St Louis 7 - Philadelphia 5.
Lonnie Smith helped the Cardinals establish an early lead with a run-scoring single in the third-inning - then after a balk put him in scoring position, Willie McGee brought Lonnie in with a single to right field.
Meanwhile, Dave LaPoint was pitching well, holding the Phillies scoreless through six innings. Then, leading off the bottom of the sixth, LaPoint lined a single to center - then came all the way around to score on Lonnie Smith's triple down the left field line. Unfortunately, Lonnie tried to stretch it into an inside-the-park home run - and was nailed at the plate.
It's difficult to imagine his thought process when he decided to run through third base coach Hal Lanier's - stop sign. With nobody out, he likely would have scored from third base relatively easily. Instead, the Cardinals had to settle for just one run - when it could have been a big inning.
If a team can gain momentum from another team's mistakes - the Phillies seemed to have it going when they came to bat in the seventh. With one out, Ivan DeJesus lined a single to left, then scored from first on pinch hitter (for Bystrom) Luis Aguayo's triple - who later scored on a Pete Rose ground out - making it just a 3-2 Cardinal lead now.
The Redbirds matched that with two runs of their own in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, George Hendrick drew a base on balls off reliever Sparky Lyle - then moved up to third on Ken Oberkfell's double to right field. Mike Ramsey's single to center field scored Hendrick - then Ozzie singled in Oberkfell, as Ramsey advanced to third.
Lyle's night was over after retiring just one batter in the inning - two runs already in - and he was responsible for the runners on first and third. The new pitcher - Ron Reed - got out of the jam when Mike Ramsey was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a ground ball to first baseman Rose - who was playing "in".
Another costly base running blunder for St Louis - although they once again held a three-run advantage, with a new pitcher - Doug Bair - coming in to work the eighth-inning. It seemed like he was in there to pitch batting practice, instead of protect the lead. Mike Schmidt's lead-off single preceded back-to-back home runs by Bill Robinson and Ozzie Virgil. Just like that, the game was tied - 5-5 - and just like that, Herzog yanked Bair - and brought in Bruce Sutter to restore order - and he did.
Suddenly, a game that should have been an easy winner - was very much in jeopardy. Ron Reed - who did such a splendid job in the previous inning, didn't fare so well in the eighth. McGee's infield single and Keith Hernandez' single to right field put runners on the corners - with nobody out. That got Reed out of the game, however, as another venerable reliever - Tug McGraw - came in to pitch to Darrell Porter - who ripped a double to right- scoring McGee and sending Hernandez to third. Hendrick then plated Hernandez with a single to center - but once again, the rally stalled, with just two runs on the board.
However, that was enough to win this one, as Sutter (6-5) pitched his second scoreless inning, as manager Whitey Herzog went through his second bottle of Rolaids. It was undoubtedly a nerve-wracking game - but at least it was a winner - keeping the first-place Cardinals just a game ahead of the Montreal Expos in the NL East.