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Phillies Take Over First Place in N.L. Despite Loss to Dodgers

May 24, 1964 - The seventh-place Dodgers beat the league-leading Phillies tonight, 3-0, but they had to use Sandy Koufax in relief. And when Los Angeles manager Walt Alston brought Koufax in, he had Don Drysdale warming up.

Koufax and Drysdale in the bullpen in the third week in May looks desperate. “Panic,” said Philadelphia pitcher Ed Roebuck afterwards, “a sure sign of panic.”

Roebuck, a former Dodger who had harsh words for his former manager when traded to Washington last year, doesn’t like Alston, of course. But whether it was a desperate move or a panicky move or a realistic move based on an open date in the schedule tomorrow, it worked.

Despite the defeat, the Phillies took over first place in the National League by a half game as the Giants dropped two in Pittsburgh.

The Dodgers owned a 2-0 lead thanks to a couple of misplayed balls and a Tommy Davis homer. Joe Moeller (pictured), who hadn’t won a game since April 28, was pitching a one-hit shutout.

Philadelphia’s Johnny Callison led off the seventh with a single, and Wes Covington hit a line drive to right field that eluded Frank Howard and went for a double.

Out went Alston, in came Koufax. “I was tired,” Moeller said afterwards. “Anyway, I couldn’t ask for a better relief pitcher.”

So, it looked okay to Moeller. How did it look to Koufax, who is listed to start Tuesday night in Cincinnati? “I love to relieve,” he said later. “Ordinarily, I’d have thrown today anyway. But I’d much rather pitch in a ballgame than on the sidelines.”

When Koufax appeared, Gene Mauch sent Ruben Amaro up to hit for John Herrnstein. Amaro decided to bunt and fouled the pitch off. He wound up taking a called third strike, and the fire went out of the inning.

“Either I’m the worst hitter around,” Amaro said afterwards, “or every time a pitcher is out there with any kind of name, this umpiring crew gives him the edge. Koufax throws hard enough without any help. The pitch was way inside — there was no way I could have hit it.”

Koufax mowed down the rest of the Phillies with little difficulty.

Even so, the Phils are now 6-4 on the road trip and battled through California with a 3-3 record. “Breaking even on the West Coast is okay,” Mauch said. “We’d like to do better, but we’ll take it. These guys are believing in themselves more and more each day.”

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