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World Champion Dodgers in a Tailspin

June 28, 1964 - Dodger manager Walter Alston, who hates to lose as much as he likes to win, nonetheless offered no excuses as his club packed up and headed for Los Angeles after four straight losses to the Giants at Candlestick Park.

With a sickly grin, he covered the final 1-0 thriller in plain language: “If you load the bases without an out and don’t score a run, you don’t deserve to win.”

That’s what happened in the ninth today, and the Giants were all for giving the credit to great clutch pitching by southpaw Billy O’Dell.

“Gimme five, Digger.”

That was the salute of teammates for the chunky lefty after he had retired Jim Gilliam, pinch hitter Lee Walls, and always dangerous Maury Wills, leaving three lonesome Dodgers marking time.

The pitches?

“Gilliam fouled out on a slider, Walls struck out on a fastball head high, and Wills hit a fastball a little away.”

Wills’ grounder was gobbled up by Jim Hart, who fired it to first.

“I said to myself, ‘I’ve gotta make this play,’ and I was real careful throwing,” said rookie Hart.

“It was the sweetest play of the day,” said Orlando Cepeda, who drove in the only run on a sacrifice fly and made the final putout. “Beautiful!”

O’Dell saved the game for Ron Herbel, who also pitched brilliantly in matching Don Drysdale.

Harvey Kuenn’s second single in the eighth started the Giants’ run-scoring foray. With one out, Willie Mays single and, when second was left uncovered, he strolled in.

Duke Snider, as a result, was purposely walked. Who knows what he might have done if Willie hadn’t left the base open?

Cepeda smashed the first pitch on a line to right, and Frank Howard had a leaping one-handed catch for the putout. But Jesus Alou, running for Kuenn, scored after the catch.

“It took a guy with an eight-foot reach to make that catch,” commented San Francisco manager Alvin Dark.

The Giants are now 8-2 against the Dodgers on the season, and the world champions are 11 games out of first place. Today’s victory enabled San Francisco to take first place, where they sit a half game in front of Philadelphia.

“But don’t get overconfident,” warned Alston.

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