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A midsummer evening in Atlanta got too hot to handle for the Cardinals.

Twenty-five years ago, on July 20, 1993, a fire erupted in an unoccupied club-level suite at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium before a game between the Cardinals and Braves.

Smoke poured through the press box and into the concourses, burning debris fell onto field-level seats and five suites were destroyed, according to multiple published reports.

The fire burned for 25 minutes before it was extinguished. One firefighter was taken to a hospital suffering from heat exhaustion and as many as 10 others were treated on the scene for heat-related issues, the Associated Press reported. No fans, stadium personnel or team personnel were injured.

Eleven fire engines, with water-pumping equipment, and six fire trucks responded and about 3,000 spectators were evacuated while firefighters battled the blaze.

After it was determined the stadium structure was sound, spectators were allowed back in and the game began two hours after its scheduled starting time. A section of 10,000 seats were declared unavailable. The fire started from a Sterno can used to heat food, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Smoke no joke

Most Cardinals players and staff ran to the outfield as the fire raged. KMOX broadcaster Mike Shannon and engineer Colin Jarrette, though, were in a radio booth and too close for comfort to the fire.

“Colin and I had to inhale the smoke when it broke out,” Shannon said to the Post-Dispatch. “We could see the fire 200 or so feet from us. Then the smoke got in behind us and trapped us in. The smoke came through the rafters and hallway behind us. We couldn’t see anything. The security guards yelled at us to get out.”

Shannon was able to escape the booth unassisted, but the smoke hampered Jarrette.

“The guards came up and had to escort Colin out,” Shannon said. “They put a towel around his head. I wasn’t frightened that I wouldn’t make it out. There was only about 15 feet from where we were to get out the back, but it was a thick, black, nasty smoke.”

The game was supposed to be shown on the Cardinals’ television network, but the telecast was canceled because several cables got burned by fire. KMOX did carry the game on the Cardinals’ radio network, though it was difficult for the broadcast team to work in the damaged radio booth.

“We really never should have done that game,” said broadcaster Jack Buck, who was on the field when the fire started. “Everything was covered with soot. It was dirty. It was filthy.”

Said Jarrette: “There was a lot of smoke damage. There were ashes settled all over the equipment.”

Shannon wore a surgical mask for parts of the game; Buck didn’t, and the next day, “I was spitting up black stuff all day long,” Buck said.

Boom, boom

When the fire started at 5:55 p.m., 90 minutes before game time, the Braves were taking batting practice and the Cardinals were doing stretching and warmups on the field. An explosive sound sent players and staff from both teams scurrying to the outfield as the suite burned above the third-base line.

“We were trying to get as far away as possible,” Cardinals manager Joe Torre said. “I was just afraid that after the explosion there would be some glass flying.”

Braves player Otis Nixon told the Associated Press, “It was like a 60-yard dash to the outfield. I never saw (manager) Bobby Cox run so fast.”

Fire department officials determined the loud sound was a girder breaking, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Show must go on

The game matched starting pitchers Tom Glavine of the Braves and Rene Arocha of the Cardinals. The Cardinals scored three runs in the fourth and two in the fifth and led 5-0 until the Braves rallied in the sixth against Arocha on a three-run home run by Jeff Blauser and a two-run home run by Fred McGriff, tying the score at 5-5. McGriff was playing in his first game for the Braves since being acquired from the Padres in a trade.

“You throw it belt-high here and a lot of bad things can happen,” said Torre.

In the eighth, the Braves scored three times against reliever Rheal Cormier and won, 8-5. Boxscore

The Cardinals were held scoreless over the final 4.2 innings by four relievers _ Steve Bedrosian, Greg McMichael, Mark Wohlers and Mike Stanton.

“I hope this is an omen that the Braves will get hot,” Braves owner Ted Turner, who attended the game with wife Jane Fonda, said to the Atlanta Constitution.

In a pairing of two of the most successful and colorful sports leaders of the 1980s, Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka spent an evening with the Cardinals as a guest of their manager, Whitey Herzog.

Thirty years ago, on July 19, 1988, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Ditka got into a Cardinals uniform, took batting practice with the team and brought out the lineup card to the umpires at home plate before the start of the game against the Dodgers.

Ditka came to St. Louis to promote Herzog’s restaurant at Union Station. The management firm that ran Herzog’s restaurant also operated Ditka’s restaurant in Chicago.

Bringing Ditka and Herzog together created the media attention the restaurant managers sought.

Ditka led the 1985 Bears to a NFL championship, winning 15 of 16 regular-season games and all three postseason games. The Bears qualified for the playoffs in seven of his 11 seasons as their head coach. A popular “Saturday Night Live” comedy sketch at the time featured actors playing blue-collar Bears fans who spoke with Chicago dialects about their devotion to “Da Bears” and to Ditka, “Da Coach.”

Herzog led the 1982 Cardinals to a World Series championship and followed that with National League pennant-winning seasons in 1985 and 1987. Dubbed “The White Rat” during his playing career because of his light-colored hair and resemblance to a Yankees pitcher with the same nickname, Herzog transformed the Cardinals into winners by emphasizing a style of play, called “Whiteyball,” featuring speed, fielding, relief pitching and fundamentals

Fan of The Man

Ditka was named Michael Dyczko when he was born Oct. 18, 1939, in Carnegie, Pa. The surname was changed to Ditka during his childhood because it was easier to pronounce.

As a youth in Aliquippa, Pa., where the family moved in the 1940s, Ditka became a Cardinals baseball fan because their best player, Stan Musial, also was from western Pennsylvania.

“I’ve been a St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan since I was a kid, basically because of one man, and that was The Man: Stan Musial,” Ditka told the Chicago Tribune in 1988. “Musial was from Donora, Pa., and I was from just outside of Pittsburgh. In the bottom of my heart, I’m still a Cardinals fan. I have to root for the Cubs every once in a while.”

At Aliquippa High School, Ditka played football, baseball and basketball and was coached by Press Maravich, the father of future college and NBA standout “Pistol” Pete Maravich.

Though Ditka was a catcher and outfielder for the high school baseball team, and later for the University of Pittsburgh, he knew his future was in football. “My fondest memories of baseball were playing in Little League and then in Pony League and then American Legion, because we competed pretty good in the state of Pennsylvania,” Ditka said.

After excelling as a receiver and punter for the University of Pittsburgh football Panthers from 1958-60, Ditka went on to become a top tight end in the NFL with the Bears (1961-66), Eagles (1967-68) and Cowboys (1969-72). He was inducted as a player into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.

Ditka was head coach of the Bears (1982-92) and Saints (1997-99).

“We always enjoyed playing the Cardinals in football,” Ditka said. “St. Louis went through a great era of football down here when Don Coryell was here and Jim Hart and Dan Dierdorf … They were about as good a team as there is in the Eastern Division.”

That’s entertainment

When Ditka got to the Cardinals baseball clubhouse to meet Herzog before the game with the Dodgers, he was issued a uniform with No. 89. That was his uniform number during his NFL playing days.

“Ditka and Herzog appeared to enjoy each other’s company,” columnist Kevin Horrigan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch observed, but both “appeared to be just the least bit embarrassed by what their business partners had gotten them into.”

The Cardinals had lost 10 of their previous 11 games, prompting Herzog to tell Ditka, “Let’s don’t joke around with this too much. Bad as we’re going it doesn’t pay to joke too much.”

Ditka stood 6 feet 3 and weighed 230 pounds, and when Herzog saw him in a size 48 Cardinals jersey, he called Tom Brunansky to come over and said to the strapping right fielder, “He’s going to take batting practice. If he hits one out, I may have to move you out of cleanup.”

Replied Brunansky: “He can have right field as far as I’m concerned. Anything for some run support.”

Brunansky, acquired by the Cardinals from the Twins three months earlier, went to his locker and came back wearing a Minnesota Vikings football T-shirt. “What do you think of this?” he said playfully to Ditka.

Hit and miss

In the batting cage, Ditka, 48, hit “a couple of soft-liners, a couple of semi-loud fouls,” the Post-Dispatch reported.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Ditka hit “one drive to the warning track after several swings and misses.”

“He’s got a short stroke,” said Herzog. “He’s got potential.”

Ditka gave Cardinals players Bear caps to wear during batting practice. “You know what?” said Herzog. “We hit better with them Bears caps on.”

Wearing his Cardinals uniform with the name Ditka on the back, the Bears coach joined Dodgers coach Bill Russell in presenting team lineup cards at home plate to umpires Tom Hallion, Joe West, Bob Engel and Charlie Williams.

The Cardinals went on to beat the Dodgers, 3-2, that night. Brunansky, batting cleanup, contributed a single, a walk, a stolen base and scored a run. Boxscore

Three days later, Ditka was back with the Bears for the opening day of training camp in Wisconsin.

The Cardinals produced 22 hits, four walks and 11 runs in a game against the Pirates, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for an ineffective bullpen.

Ten years ago, on July 12, 2008, the Cardinals had 10 extra-base hits and led 8-3 after six innings, 9-4 after seven and 10-6 after eight, but lost, 12-11, to the Pirates in 10 innings.

“That’s a game that you can’t lose that we lost,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Jason Bay, who hit a pair of two-run home runs for the Pirates, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “It’s one of our more amazing games that I’ve been involved in. I’ll never forget it.”

Getting weird

The Saturday night game at Pittsburgh matched starting pitchers Todd Wellemeyer of the Cardinals against Yoslan Herrera, making his major-league debut for the Pirates. The Cardinals scored six times in 4.1 innings against Herrera. Ryan Ludwick did the most damage with a two-run home run and a run-scoring triple.

With a 10-6 lead, the Cardinals turned to the franchise’s all-time saves leader, Jason Isringhausen, to close out the ninth. After Isringhausen struck out Jose Bautista, Jason Michaels walked, Jack Wilson got an infield single and Nate McLouth hit a three-run home run, cutting the Cardinals’ lead to 10-9. “We’re all in that dugout, the whole inning, believing this can happen,” McLouth said.

La Russa said Isringhausen’s biggest mistake was issuing the walk to Michaels with a four-run lead.

“It didn’t seem like it mattered what we threw,” Isringhausen said to the Associated Press. “They got a hit or something weird happened.”

Isrnghausen threw two pitches, both outside the strike zone, to the next batter, Luis Rivas, and was relieved by rookie Kyle McClellan. “The home run (by McLouth) really bothered him,” La Russa said in explaining why he lifted Isringhausen before he finished pitching to Rivas.

McClellan yielded singles to Rivas and Ryan Doumit. With runners on first and third, one out, Bay followed with a ground ball to shortstop Cesar Izturis, who threw to Aaron Miles at second base for the force on Doumit. Miles pivoted to make a throw to first to complete a game-ending double play, but he couldn’t get a grip on the ball. “I knew I had to get rid of it quick,” Miles said. “I just couldn’t get it out of my glove.”

Rivas raced from third base to home plate on the play, tying the score at 10-10, and Bay reached first uncontested. “We had a chance to get out of it and we didn’t get away with anything,” said La Russa.

McClellan got Xavier Nady to pop out to shortstop, ending the inning and sending the game into the 10th.

Walkoff win

Troy Glaus led off the 10th for the Cardinals with a home run against Denny Bautista, giving St. Louis an 11-10 lead.

In the bottom half of the inning, Raul Chavez singled, prompting La Russa to take out McClellan and bring in another rookie, Chris Perez. After Jose Bautista popped out to shortstop, Michaels hit a two-run home run, giving the Pirates a 12-11 victory. It was the first walkoff home run for Michaels as a professional ballplayer. Boxscore

“Big situation, coming in like that, chance to protect a lead. I just blew it,” said Perez.

The Cardinals with 22 hits and four walks stranded 12 runners and hit into three double plays. The Pirates had 13 hits, two walks and a hit batsman and left four on base.

Said La Russa: “I don’t care how many hits we had. We got beat. We’ve had games where we pitched and couldn’t get runs. We got runs today and we couldn’t pitch.”

Howie Pollet was peaking as a Cardinals pitcher when he put his career on hold to serve his country in World War II.

Seventy-five years ago, on July 10, 1943, Pollet pitched a third consecutive shutout, stretching his scoreless innings streak to 28. Two days later, on July 12, Pollet was in Philadelphia, preparing to pitch for the National League in the July 13 All-Star Game, when he received orders to report for active duty.

Pollet, 22, who was classified 1-A as available for unrestricted military service when he registered for the draft, departed immediately for St. Louis and checked in at the recruiting office there before going to the Army Air Force base at Miami Beach, Fla., to start training as an aviation cadet.

Pollet was 8-4 with a 1.74 ERA for the 1943 Cardinals when he got the call from Uncle Sam. Five of his eight wins were shutouts. His ERA in those eight wins was 0.87.

Pollet served in the military until his discharge in November 1945. He resumed his major-league career in 1946 and picked up where he left off, posting a 21-10 record and 2.10 ERA for a World Series championship Cardinals club.

Emerging ace

Pollet, a left-hander, signed with the Cardinals in 1939 and made his major-league debut with them two years later.

After contributing a 7-5 record and 2.88 ERA for the Cardinals in their World Series championship season in 1942, Pollet opened 1943 in a starting rotation with Mort Cooper, Ernie White, Max Lanier and Harry Gumbert.

Pollet pitched a shutout in a 1-0 win against the Reds in his first start of the season on April 25. He pitched another 1-0 shutout against the Pirates on June 12, boosting his record to 5-1. He lost his next two starts, an 11-inning duel with the Reds’ Johnny Vander Meer and a rain-shortened five-inning game against the Cubs.

Facing the Giants in Game 2 of a doubleheader on June 30 at the Polo Grounds in New York, Pollet held them to six singles and three walks in a 5-0 Cardinals victory.

The Giants threatened in the sixth inning, but Pollet got Sid Gordon to pop out to shortstop Marty Marion with two outs and the bases loaded. In the seventh, the Giants had runners on first and second, two outs, when Pollet struck out Dick Bartell.

Pollet was backed by four Cadinals home runs _ two by Lou Klein and one each by Stan Musial and Danny Litwhiler. Boxscore

Chess match

On July 4, Pollet started against the Dodgers in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and pitched 10 innings in a 2-0 Cardinals victory.

Curt Davis, a former Cardinal, started for the Dodgers and held St. Louis scoreless until the 10th. Pollet sparked the rally with an infield single. His ground ball was fielded by first baseman Dolph Camilli, who threw to Davis covering first, but Davis failed to touch the bag and Pollet was ruled safe, the Associated Press reported.

Klein’s sacrifice bunt moved Pollet to second and Harry Walker followed with a single to shallow left, scoring Pollet. Walker advanced to second on left fielder Joe Medwick’s weak throw to the plate. After an intentional walk to Musial, Litwhiler singled, scoring Walker with the second run.

In the bottom of the 10th, Pollet issued a two-out walk to Mickey Owen before striking out Augie Galan and preserving the shutout.

“Brilliant as Davis was, he was overshadowed by his youthful rival, Howie Pollet, who limited the Dodgers to three scant hits and whipped them for the first time in his big-league career,” the New York Daily News reported.

Pollet escaped a jam in the seventh when the Dodgers had runners on first and third with none out. After Camilli struck out, Cardinals coach Buzzy Wares told manager Billy Southworth he expected Owen to attempt a suicide squeeze bunt, The Sporting News reported.

“Waste every pitch, if necessary,” Wares told Southworth. “I think it will be the second pitch, but waste them all, even if you walk Owen.”

After Owen took the first pitch from Pollet, Southworth signaled for a pitchout. Sure enough, as catcher Walker Cooper moved away from the plate for Pollet’s offering, Owen futilely attempted the squeeze. Medwick, charging down the line, was trapped and was tagged out. Owen flied out, ending the threat. Boxscore

“So helpless were the Dodgers … that even the once loyal fans turned against them,” the Daily News reported. “Camilli, hero of the pennant-winning team of 1941, was booed lustily after fanning three times in the opener.”

Change in plans

Pollet pitched his third straight shutout on July 10 in a 6-0 Cardinals victory over the Braves at Boston. Pollet limited the Braves to four singles and two walks. Boxscore

After the game, the Post-Dispatch informed Pollet it had learned he was scheduled to report to basic training on July 15, but Pollet said it was news to him.

After the Cardinals completed their series with the Braves on July 11, Pollet went to Philadelphia with other members of the National League all-star team. He received his draft notice on July 12, and before he departed Philadelphia he was given an all-star wristwatch by National League president Ford Frick. Pollet had been scheduled to pitch three innings in the July 13 All-Star Game, the St. Louis Star-Times reported.

Pollet would not pitch in a major-league game again until April 18, 1946, in a start for the Cardinals against the Pirates at St. Louis.

He compiled a 97-65 record in nine seasons with the Cardinals before being traded to the Pirates in June 1951. Pollet went on to pitch for the Cubs and White Sox and finished his major-league career in 1956 with a record of 131-116 and 25 shutouts.

Pollet also was the Cardinals’ pitching coach from 1959-64.

Chuck Stobbs was a left-hander who made his major-league debut at age 18, pitched for three American League franchises, yielded an epic home run to Mickey Mantle, experienced a streak of 16 consecutive losses and was given a chance to extend his career with the Cardinals.

Sixty years ago, on July 9, 1958, Stobbs, 29, was claimed by the Cardinals from the Senators for the waiver price of $20,000.

The Cardinals utilized Stobbs as a reliever the remainder of the season, but he didn’t fit their plans and they released him. He returned to the Senators, reviving his career after discovering and correcting an eye problem.

Young pro

Stobbs was a standout athlete at Granby High School in Norfolk, Va., and was recruited by several college football programs. He chose to pursue a professional baseball career and was signed in May 1947 by Red Sox scout Specs Toporcer, a former Cardinals infielder.

Stobbs was 18 when he made his major-league debut with the Red Sox in a relief role on Sept. 15, 1947, against the White Sox. He became a starter in 1949 and had one of his best season in 1950, posting a 12-7 record.

After the 1951 season, the Red Sox traded Stobbs to the White Sox and he spent one season with them before he was dealt to the Senators in December 1952.

“Stobbs suffers from asthma and the changeable spring weather makes him weak,” columnist Bob Addie reported in The Sporting News. “Once the weather gets hot and dry, Chuck feels human again and becomes a better pitcher.”

Stobbs made his first regular-season appearance for the Senators on April 17, 1953, in a start against the Yankees at Griffith Stadium in Washington and it was memorable. In the fifth inning, Mantle hit a pitch from Stobbs out of the ballpark, a home run estimated to have traveled more than 500 feet and the only ball to clear the left field bleachers at Griffith Stadium. Boxscore

In 1956, Stobbs was 15-15 for the Senators, but lost his last five decisions. The losing streak stretched to 16 when Stobbs lost his first 11 decisions in 1957.

Stobbs was 8-20 with a 5.36 ERA for the Senators in 1957 and 2-6 with a 6.04 ERA for them in 1958 when he was placed on waivers and claimed by the Cardinals.

Seeking relief

Cardinals manager Fred Hutchinson had pitched and managed in the American League for the Tigers, was familiar with Stobbs and thought the breaking-ball specialist could help in the bullpen.

“I suppose I’ll be called in to pitch to Duke Snider, Eddie Mathews and some of those other sluggers,” Stobbs said. “Maybe I’ll get past them by walking them.”

Stobbs disliked airplane travel and was dismayed to learn the Cardinals took flights on longer road trips. “I didn’t know the train was so obsolete,” Stobbs said. “I thought I was in baseball, but it seems somewhere along the way I joined the Air Force.”

Stobbs made his Cardinals debut on July 13 against the Pirates at St. Louis. Entering the game in the fifth inning with a 6-5 lead, he yielded a two-run home run to Bill Mazeroski and took the loss. Boxscore

On July 16, in a four-inning relief stint against the Braves at St. Louis, Stobbs gave up back-to-back home runs to Mathews and Hank Aaron and took another loss. Boxscore

A week later, on July 23 at Milwaukee, Stobbs relieved starter Larry Jackson and shut out the Braves for six innings. Boxscore

When the Cardinals fell into an eight-game losing streak from July 27 to Aug. 3, Stobbs offered to contribute the rabbits feet and other good-luck charms fans sent him when he experienced his 16-game skid with the Senators. “The charms apparently are easier to find than prospects from Redbird farms who can help right away,” wrote Neal Russo of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Stobbs lost his first three decisions with the Cardinals before earning his lone win on Aug. 6 with five scoreless relief innings against the Giants at St. Louis. Stobbs also walked, scored a run and executed a sacrifice bunt. Boxscore

On Sept. 9, Stobbs earned a save against the Cubs at St. Louis, entering with two on, two outs and an 8-7 lead in the ninth and retiring Walt Moryn on a fly out. Boxscore

Stobbs finished with a 1-3 record, a save and a 3.63 ERA in 17 relief appearances for the 1958 Cardinals. Left-handed batters hit .300 (15-for-50) against him.

Eye opener

Described by The Sporting News as a “carefree bachelor,” Stobbs got married in November 1958 and was preparing to report to spring training before the Cardinals released him in January 1959 after he went unclaimed on waivers.

Stobbs was home in Washington, D.C., when he went to renew his driver’s license and nearly flunked the eye test. He saw an optometrist and learned he had weak vision in his right eye. The eye problem “seriously affected his depth perception and could easily account for his increasing inability in recent years to find home plate with his pitches,” Shirley Povich reported in The Sporting News.

After being fitted for glasses, Stobbs met with Calvin Griffith and convinced the Senators owner to give him a chance to compete for a job in spring training. Able to hit his spots with his improved vision, Stobbs had a string of 16 scoreless innings in 1959 spring training games and opened the regular season as a Senators reliever.

Stobbs was 1-8 with seven saves and a 2.98 ERA for the 1959 Senators. In 1960, Stobbs had one of his best Senators seasons, finishing 12-7 with a 3.32 ERA.

When the Senators relocated to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1961, Stobbs went with them and pitched his final season there. In 15 years in the majors, Stobbs was 107-130 with a 4.29 ERA.

Batters couldn’t produce a run against Bob Gibson, so he did it for them.

Fifty years ago, on July 1, 1968, Gibson’s streak of 47.2 scoreless innings ended when he threw a wild pitch, enabling Len Gabrielson to score from third base in the first inning at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Gibson had pitched shutouts in each of his five previous starts for the Cardinals. In the start after facing the Dodgers, Gibson shut out the Giants, giving him six shutouts in seven games.

If not for the wild pitch, Gibson may have achieved seven consecutive shutouts. He allowed one run over 63 innings in seven consecutive complete-game starts.

Marquee matchup

After consecutive shutouts versus the Astros, Braves, Reds, Cubs and Pirates, Gibson was matched against the Dodgers’ Don Drysdale. From May 14 to June 8, Drysdale pitched six shutouts in a row and put together a streak of 58.1 consecutive scoreless innings.

A crowd of 54,157 came out to Dodger Stadium to see whether Gibson could match Drysdale’s shutout streak. The paid attendance was 42,603 but the total crowd included straight-A students and Girl Scouts who were guests of the Dodgers. The start of the game was delayed 11 minutes to accommodate the late-arriving throng.

In the first inning, Gibson got Willie Davis to ground out to second and Paul Popovich to pop out to first. After Gabrielson singled, Tom Haller hit a groundball to second. Julian Javier ranged to his left, lowered the glove and appeared ready to make the stop, but the ball eluded him and went into right field for a single. Gabrielson advanced to third on the play.

“Bad hop,” Javier said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It looked as if it would hit me in the face, so I put my glove up.”

Ron Fairly was up next.

Tough to handle

With the count at 0-and-1, Gibson threw a pitch down and in to Fairly. “A wild fastball,” Gibson said.

“It was one of the hardest thrown balls I’ve ever seen,” Fairly told the Los Angeles Times. “It came screaming in low and he had a lot on it.”

Johnny Edwards was the Cardinals’ catcher. Manager Red Schoendienst started Edwards instead of the regular catcher, Tim McCarver, because Edwards “is a better thrower than McCarver and the Dodgers are a running club,” reported Dayton Daily News columnist Si Burick.

Edwards set up for a pitch on the outside corner but the ball sailed inside to the left-handed batter.

Gibson’s pitch “hit the dirt on the back of the plate,” Edwards said. “I tried to shift for it. I got my bare hand on it. It caromed off, hit the umpire’s shin guard and bounced in the opposite direction.”

As the ball bounded off the screen, Gabrielson advanced from third base, stomped on home plate with both feet, ran to the dugout “and leaped flat-footed as if he had just stolen home in the World Series,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

The run was the first allowed by Gibson since Ed Charles of the Mets hit a solo home run against him on June 2.

After Fairly grounded out, Edwards approached Gibson in the dugout and said, “I’m sorry. I tried.”

Gibson shrugged.

Redbirds rally

The Cardinals tied the score, 1-1, in the second when Bobby Tolan scored from third on Javier’s sacrifice fly and went ahead, 2-1, in the sixth when Curt Flood scored from third on Orlando Cepeda’s sacrifice fly.

In the seventh, the Cardinals stretched their lead to 5-1 with three runs against Drysdale. Javier scored from third on Gibson’s ground out to second. Lou Brock and Flood each followed with a RBI-single.

Drysdale was lifted after yielding five runs, 10 hits, all singles, and a walk in 6.1 innings.

Gibson worked out of jams in the eighth and ninth. With runners on first and third, one out, in the eighth, Gibson retired Gabrielson on a fly out to shallow left and got Haller to ground out.

In the ninth, with one out, ex-Cardinal Ken Boyer walked, Jim Lefebvre singled and Boyer went to third. Gibson got Wes Parker to pop out to third and struck out Bob Bailey, completing the 5-1 victory and improving his season record to 10-5. Boxscore

Blame game

When Gibson got to the clubhouse and saw the pack of reporters waiting to quiz him about the wild pitch, he shouted for his teammates to hear, “It was the catcher’s fault. He loused it up.”

Flood fired back with a needle at Gibson, “Forget it. If it wasn’t the wild pitch, you’d have found some other way to louse it up.”

Brock chimed in, “Did you throw a spitter?” and his teammates roared with laughter.

To ensure journalists knew he was joking about blaming Edwards, Gibson said, “It was my fault. I have no excuses.”

“I didn’t have control of my fastball,” Gibson told The Sporting News. “I normally don’t have much trouble with my fastball.”

Asked whether he was disappointed to miss out on a sixth consecutive shutout, Gibson said, “Nobody thinks about pitching a shutout. Sportswriters and fans are more concerned with records than the players are. The important thing is to win.”

Asked whether he’d felt pressure in trying to maintain the scoreless streak, Gibson responded, “Pressure? Call it aggravation. I had more pressure on me when I was growing up as a kid.”

In 304.2 innings pitched in 1968, Gibson threw four wild pitches.

Years later, in his 1994 book “Stranger to the Game,” Gibson said the pitch he threw to Fairly deflected off the tip of Edwards’ mitt. “Frankly, I thought it should have been (ruled) a passed ball since the pitch was not in the dirt and Edwards got his glove on it,” Gibson said.

“It wouldn’t have been good form to complain about the call, but I disagreed with it,” Gibson said.