Friday, August 4, 1967 - At Busch Stadium II (Larry Jaster - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent: Cincinnati Reds (Gary Nolan - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance: 33,533
A five-run sixth-inning was more than enough offense for the Cardinals tonight, as Larry Jaster blanked the Cincinnati Reds on four hits to log his first shutout of the '67 season. It was also the first time he pitched a complete game shutout against a team other than the Dodgers - who were victimized an unprecedented five times by the rookie lefty a year earlier.
Jaster even helped his own cause in that five-run outburst - driving in one run and scoring another. The inning started innocuously enough, when Reds starter Gary Nolan struck out Roger Maris. However, after hitting the next batter - Orlando Cepeda - with a pitch, things started unraveling. Nolan walked the next batter - Tim McCarver - then grooved a pitch to Mike Shannon, who drove in Cepeda with a single. Next up - Phil Gagliano - brought in McCarver with a double, as Shannon stopped at third. Nolan then intentionally walked the weak-hitting Dal Maxvill to load the bases - to set up a possible double play with Jaster the next scheduled hitter.
The strategy was foiled when Jaster's ground ball to the shortstop wasn't hit hard enough to turn two. Maxvill was forced out at second but Jaster easily beat the relay to first, as Shannon scored from third.
That kept the inning alive for Lou Brock - who came through with a double in the left center field gap to score both Gagliano and Jaster with the fourth and fifth runs of the inning. That finally prompted Reds manager Dave Bristol to remove his rattled starter - bringing in Don Nottebart - who retired the ninth batter in the inning - Curt Flood - on a line drive right to the first baseman.
Jaster's excursion around the bases didn't seem to affect his stamina. The Reds never threatened to score over the final three innings. In fact, the only perilous inning for the Redbird lefty happened to be the very first inning - when lead-off hitter Tommy Harper doubled to start the ballgame. After a sacrifice bunt advanced him to third, Jaster induced future all-time hits leader and gambler Pete Rose into hitting an easy ground ball right back to the mound. Harper broke immediately for home, then was caught in a rundown that lasted long enough for Rose to hustle all the way over to third as Harper was finally tagged out by catcher Tim McCarver. All that running back and forth was all for naught, as cleanup hitter Tony Perez was retired to end the threat.
This series was do-or-die for Cincinnati - and their pennant hopes essentially died when St Louis completed the three-game sweep with a Saturday walk-off extra-inning win, followed by a one-run win on Sunday. By then, the first-place Cardinals (67-41) would have an 11-game advantage over the Reds (57-53) - the team that actually occupied the top-spot in the National League in early June.
As we all know, much can happen in major league baseball over the course of two months. The Cardinals' next challenge would be to put second-place Chicago further back in the pack when they come to town in a couple of weeks. That mission would be accomplished.