It was Willie Mays and Pitcher Jack Sanford who wrecked the Dodgers in the first game. Mays, demoted to the fifth spot in the batting order, was undisturbed. "You don't have to worry about OF Willie," Dark said before the game. "You can play him anywhere and he's all for it." Willie was certainly all for Dodger Pitcher Stan Williams' curve ball in the third inning. He hit it into the bleacher seats in left field to score two runners ahead of him, and that was that. The Giants kept on making runs, and Sanford was superb in winning his 20th game of the year. Not only did the Giants hit the ball harder, and score more often than the Dodgers, they had the best duck callers. Quacking expertly in the Giant dressing room after the game were Pitcher Billy O'Dell and Catcher Ed Bailey—both serious off-season hunters.
One game does not win a series, but the Dodgers suddenly were in serious trouble. Manager Walt Alston had no choice but to call on Rookie Pete Richert, back from the minors after his recovery from a damaged arm. His job, according to Alston, was to go as far as he could in the second game in hopes that it would be late in the game when he faltered. Then one of the Dodger relief pitchers could take over.
"The thing to do," said Giant Pitcher Billy Pierce, "is win the first three games, then take our chances on the last one." It was Pierce whom Manager Dark called on to win the second game. With his pitching opponent the young Richert, and Ron Perranoski alone in the injury-riddled Dodger bullpen, the Giants' prospects were excellent. But Pierce, who usually pitches with four days of rest, started this time with only three. He shouldn't have. This was one game when the Dodger sprinters came alive.
In the first inning Willie Davis, deeply embarrassed by his failure to score a runner from third with a squeeze, was on first base when Tommy Davis singled. It was quite obvious that Willie had no intention of taking the customary two bases on the hit and run. He wanted it all. What Willie Davis didn't realize was that this is not ordinarily done in the big leagues, especially with a player like Willie Mays fielding the ball in center field. What other people didn't realize was that Willie Davis is the fastest runner ever to wear a major league uniform. Mays, realizing what Davis was up to, came on smartly. Third Base Coach Leo Durocher stood tall and straight, with arms raised above his head—in the stop-here signal. Before Durocher's grin faded from his face, Davis had passed the coach and crossed home plate well ahead of the ball. So unsettled was Pierce by the sight of a runner simply outrunning a well-thrown ball that he gave up two more runs in the inning.
Certain things are expected of catchers. They must be strong and fearless and patient. It helps if they can hit an occasional long ball. But stealing bases is not one of their prerequisites. Billy Pierce, who has been in both major leagues and well knows what catchers don't do, took a leisurely wind-up, with Dodger Catcher John Roseboro on third base. As Roseboro explained it later, "When I was young I had a pretty good motor. If them pitchers make a mistake, well, shame on them." Roseboro stole home, his second such felony within a week.
Richert, meanwhile, had done his job and held the Giant power hitters in check until the fifth inning. Alston would have liked the young pitcher to go an inning or so more, Perranoski being the only one around to help out. But when Richert lost all rapport with the strike zone Alston had no choice. In came Perranoski.
The Giants came within a run of catching the Dodgers in the last inning, but Perranoski struck out Mays on a full count. Cepeda took two quick strikes, and the Dodger relief pitcher threw a slider. Only it didn't slide. It sailed over the inside corner, surprised Perranoski, surprised Cepeda and delighted 51,500 Dodger fans.
Now the series was even, but in the third game the Dodgers had to face Juan Marichal, who throws a slider, fast ball, curve, screwball, changeup and one pitch he has no name for. The Dodger batters were completely impartial in the matter. They didn't hit any of them very well.
Dodger starter Johnny Podres pitched well, too, but a nerve-racking second inning (he loaded the bases with no outs and retired the side without a score) "took too much out of me," he said afterward. Willie Mays, who does not have a reputation for pampering tired Dodgers, doubled twice and singled once to drive in two runs. "I threw him good pitches, too," said Podres with a shrug. "But you pay a guy $90,000 and he's supposed to hit good pitches."
Now the Giants had only to beat Don Drysdale in the last game to win the series. Beating Drysdale, however, is a thing few pitchers have been able to do this year. The big right-hander is paid $35,000 annually to make sure vital games go into the books as Dodger wins. Twenty-three times this season he has imposed this condition on opponents.