Wednesday, September 9, 1964 - At Connie Mack Stadium (Curt Simmons - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies (Jim Bunning - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance: 25,339
The Cardinals rallied with two runs in the top of the ninth-inning to tie - then scored five runs in the eleventh-inning to beat the first-place Phillies, 10-5.
The second-place Cardinals (78-61) were now five games out with twenty-three games left to play. Whitey Herzog probably would have had this assessment of the Cardinals' chances of overtaking the Phillies: "It don't look good on paper."
Had the Cardinals failed to score two runs in the ninth-inning to send this game into extra innings, their slim chance of overtaking the Phillies in '64 would have been reduced to zero - so yes, this was a big game to win.
Before their big eleventh-inning rally, the Cardinals only led one other time in this game - in the first-inning - when Ken Boyer's infield single scored Lou Brock from third base.
That 1-0 lead was short-lived, as Dick Allen's first-inning RBI double scored Johnny Callison from second base to tie it at one run apiece.
Cardinal starter Curt Simmons had more trouble with the Phillies in the second-inning - but with the bases loaded and nobody out, his mound opponent - Jim Bunning - rolled into a 4-6-3 double play. The run scored, but Simmons avoided further damage when he struck out Cookie Rojas to retire the side.
Philadelphia plated two more runs in the fourth on an RBI single from Rojas and an RBI double from Callison. At that point, manager Johnny Keane yanked Simmons (3.2 IP - 10 H - 4 R - 1 BB - SO) - bringing in Ron Taylor, who got the final out in the fourth.
The Cardinals got a pair of solo home runs in the top of the fifth from Brock and Boyer to reduce the Philadelphia lead to a single run - 4-3.
The bottom of the fifth began with Taylor returning to the mound to face Tony Taylor (no relation) - who lined one deep to center, for extra bases. He should have stopped at second with nobody out - but he gambled and lost when he tried to stretch it into a triple. The relay from Flood to Javier to Boyer was perfectly executed - and Taylor was nailed at third. Failing to score in that inning would ultimately cost them the game - and the National League pennant. Funny how those things work.
Meanwhile, after Bunning worked the first six innings (three runs on ten hits), reliever Jack Baldschun worked a scoreless seventh and eighth.
For the Cardinals, the veteran knuckle ball relief specialist - Barney Schultz - entered the game in the sixth-inning - and kept the Phillies at bay through the seventh. Then with two outs in the eighth, Ruben Amaro kept the inning alive with a single to left field. Rather than use a pinch hitter, manager Gene Mauch let his pitcher hit for himself. Mauch looked like a genius when Baldschun proceeded to whack a run-scoring double - padding the Philadelphia lead to a more comfortable 5-3 margin.
Needing just three more outs to nail this one down, Baldschun gave up a lead-off single to pinch hitter Charlie James (batting for Schultz). Next up - Curt Flood grounded into a force out at second. Lou Brock then lined a single to center - advancing Flood to third. But Bill White made the second out in the inning with a ground ball to second, as Flood scored on the play.
The Cardinals were down to their last out, with Ken Boyer now batting with a runner in scoring position. Boyer delivered a run-scoring single to center field - tying the game a five runs apiece.
Reliever Gordie Richardson set the Phillies down in order in the bottom of the ninth.
Baldschun was still in the game, and managed to pitch a scoreless tenth-inning.
Bob Humphreys - the fifth pitcher used in this game for St Louis - took care of the Phillies in the bottom of the tenth - in order - striking out two.
Apparently, Mauch felt Baldschun was still his best option - sending him out to start his fifth inning of work, as the Cardinals took their turn at bat in the eleventh. Consecutive singles by Flood and Brock preceded White's two-run double. The Cardinals now led, 7-5 - and they were not finished scoring - although Baldschun was finally finished pitching.
Reliever Ed Roebuck retired Boyer on a ground ball to the second baseman - but Boyer accomplished what he set out to do in this at bat - move White to third with just one out. Next up - Dick Groat - couldn't get the run in, however. His foul pop behind home plate was an easy out for the catcher.
Then with two out Mike Shannon grounded one to third - which Allen booted for an error. White trotted home with the third run in the inning, as Shannon was able to ramble all the way into second.
Next up - Javier - scored Shannon with a single to left field - prompting most of the fans who were still in attendance to offer words of encouragement for their heroes. That didn't seem to work, either - as Javier stole second - prompting an intentional walk to McCarver - which brought Humphreys up to bat. The Cardinal reliever didn't cooperate with the Phillies' strategy, however - lining a run-scoring single to center - plating the fifth run of the inning - which was the third unearned run of the inning. For the Phillies and their faithful fans, this inning was a nightmare.
For the Cardinals and Cardinal Nation, it was a dream come true.
Humphreys (2-0) struck out two more batters in the bottom of the eleventh - allowing a harmless single - before closing this one out.
The Cardinals certainly needed contributions from every player on their roster to achieve their improbable quest for the NL pennant in '64. Humphreys was instrumental - providing stellar relief work all season long. And he wasn't bad with the bat, either.
Meanwhile, the path to the pennant would still be an arduous journey. Philadelphia would win the next night to go back up by six games - and time was running out for the Redbirds to make up all that ground.
They would need a lot of help from other teams - to send Philadelphia into a downward spiral - and they got it - along with a lot of help from the Phillies' beleaguered manager, himself - Gene Mauch - who started managing every game like it was the seventh game of the World Series.