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"We're playing them one at a time," said Manager Haney, "but this was one we had to win."
On Thursday the Giant cause appeared hopeless. Their lead was down to only one game, the Braves were on the warpath and on the mound was Warren Spahn, who has spent many seasons teaching National Leaguers to eat out of his left hand. Only, on Thursday, Spahn barely got the hand out of the way before it was taken off. He lasted only 18 pitches, gave up three hits, a walk and three runs and didn't get a batter out.
Before the day was over, Willie Mays hit a home run, three singles, walked and drove in five runs; Davenport hit a home run, a single and a sacrifice fly and drove in four runs; Eddie Bressoud hit two singles and a homer; and Willie McCovey contributed, too. Eventually the Giants won 13-6, although Jack Sanford had to have two innings of relief help from Sam Jones ( Eddie Mathews, on a rampage, drove in all six Milwaukee runs with two home runs and a lowering sacrifice fly).
Personally, Giant Manager Bill Rigney was glad it was over. At one time, with Sanford pitching, he had the three other Giant starting pitchers—Jones, Antonelli and McCormick—warming up in the bullpen.
"They tell me," said Manager Rigney, "that you're supposed to save a pitcher for tomorrow. I figured I couldn't wait."
By this time the Giants were two games ahead again, a situation in this pennant race to be avoided like the plague. It rained on Friday, so everyone had a day of rest, and then the Dodgers took over on Saturday. In the first game, a daylight affair, Roger Craig humbled the Giants 4-1. Maury Wills had three hits. In the night game Drysdale and Larry Sherry and Danny McDevitt and Clarence Nottingham Churn III combined their talents to beat the Giants 5-3. The Giants, stopped dead by Drysdale after they had loaded the bases on walks in the first inning, had a 1-0 lead going into the seventh. Then came the play that might well have broken the back of the pennant race. The Dodgers filled the bases with one out, but Chuck Essegian hit a double-play grounder to Davenport at third. Davenport fielded the ball and threw to Daryl Spencer at second, but Dodger Joe Pignatano barreled into Spencer, Daryl dropped the ball and the Dodgers, instead of being out of the inning with no runs, went on to score five. It was a startling reversal of fortune, but routine in this week of surprises.
The last game of the Dodger-Giant series was almost anticlimactic. Duke Snider hit a home run off Sam Jones in the second inning, and the Dodgers were off. By the time the Giants got around to scoring a couple of runs in the eighth, Los Angeles already had four and Sam Jones had long since showered and dressed. As if to emphasize what kind of week it had been, the Dodgers scored four more in the ninth. The Giants were suddenly in third place, and barely breathing.
To understand why such a twisted mixup exists in the National League race, particularly among three teams so dissimilar, it may help to study the personalities of the teams involved. And baseball teams do have individual personalities, compounded of equal parts physical ability and psychic quirks—a confusion of styles and temperaments and talents of players and managers and coaches, with even a bit of history on the side.