Don Sutton, seeking his fourth consecutive win, retired after nine innings of tie ball, unable to either win or lose. He was spelled by—who else?—Marshall, who by appearing in his 75th game broke Bob Miller's 1964 Dodger record. But this was not vintage Marshall.
Rose led off the 10th with a single to center field. Then, after Morgan lined out, Johnny Bench hit what he described as a "hanging screwball" into the left-field pavilion for all the runs that would be required. Marshall gave up another run before the inning concluded, but it was superfluous. The teams had traded 6-3 wins, and the Reds were once again 6� games back.
The loss also resulted in a pulled ribcage muscle for Ferguson and a pulled groin muscle for Yeager, the team's ranking valetudinarian. Yeager has been hit by foul tips, Willie McCovey's bat and an assortment of flying runners this season. The groin injury, though painful, would not keep him from hobbling through the final game of the series. Yeager, like a football lineman, has learned to live with pain.
He sat out infield practice this last night, preferring to rest his aching bones in the dugout and muse philosophically.
"The basic thing we're trying to do is take these games as they come. We can't take the series all that seriously. Sometimes in important games like these there is a tendency to tighten up. We're trying to go ahead and play our game and not really think about who we're playing. We're trying to stay as relaxed as if we were playing San Diego."
The Reds would not buy that. They prefer to think of the Dodgers as fugitives anxiously glancing over their shoulders as the onrushing Big Red Machine bears down on them the way it did a year ago, when indeed they were finally run down.
"They had to be thinking about us when we were only 3� back," said Rose. But that was on July 28. The Dodgers had moved three games forward since then.
"We can't afford to lose this series," said Jack Billingham, the pitcher Anderson assigned to win it on the final day. "There's an important difference between being 5� back, which we will be if we win tonight, and 7� back, which we will be if we lose. If they keep going the way they have been, we will have problems. But I look for them to fall into a slight slump. I know it can happen. It happened last year."
Billingham has the easy amiability of a screen cowboy, a sort of tall Audie Murphy but, like the movie gunslinger, he is dangerous when aroused. And in the tense, bitter third game he pitched better than he has all year—a 2-0, six-hit, 10-strikeout masterpiece before 54,038 fans, the largest Dodger crowd of the season.
The Reds' runs came in the usual way—Morgan singling and taking third on an error by Dodger Rightfielder Willie Crawford and Bench hitting a home run, his 22nd. The Dodgers' avowed cool seemed to evaporate on this balmy evening. Swinging futilely at Billingham's bewildering array of fastballs and tantalizing curves, they became increasingly edgy. Their hopes momentarily rose in the ninth when Bill Buckner led off with an infield single. Then Wynn hit what appeared to be a certain double-play bouncer at Concepcion, who flipped to Morgan, whose throw to Perez at first barely missed catching Wynn.