Tommy Herr, in 2,007 at-bats in the National League prior to this season, hit only six home runs.
His career-high sixth this season, which doubled his output, was a dream come true.
The switch-hitting second baseman hit a two-out, two-run home run in the ninth inning Sunday at St. Louis to give the Cardinals a 6-5 victory over the Montreal Expos and a three-game lead in the East.
Herr's drive over the left-field fence off reliever Jack O'Connor followed the 200th hit of the season by Willie McGee.
"If you play the game long enough, something like this is bound to happen. Even a big leaguer has fantasies about things like that," Herr told the Associated Press. "I'm glad it happened to me. It's the biggest hit of my career. I never had a hit like that before."
Herr is having his finest season. He has been among the top batters all season and is hitting .311. He has driven in 102 runs. Unless he hits four more home runs, he will be the first batter to drive in 100 runs in a season without reaching double figures in home runs since George Kell did it for Detroit in 1950.
The Cardinals trailed, 6-1, Saturday and finally won on Jack Clark's two-run home run in the seventh. Clark reinjured his rib on the home-run swing. The Cardinals had to "suffer" along with Cesar Cedeno, who went 2-for-4 and is 29-for-62 (.467) since joining the Cardinals Aug. 29.
Herr's dramatic home run made a winner of Ken Dayley (4-2) and also took 21-game winner Joaquin Andujar off the hook. Andujar has not pitched well since he became the majors' first 20-game winner a month ago.
It also climaxed a big weekend for the Cardinals. Going into the series with the Expos, the Cardinals had only a one-game lead over the New York Mets. While the Cardinals were playing the third place Expos, a team that had beaten them in nine of 12 meetings, the Mets were at home against Pittsburgh, the team with the worst record in the majors.
"The Mets knew what they had to do. They had the last-place club in there. We had kind of conceded a sweep," Herr said. "We did what we had to do, but it's not over yet."
The sweep of the Expos gave the Cardinals 10 victories in their last 11 games. They have 13 games left, 10 of them at home where they are 47-24.
Pittsburgh 5, New York 3--Although the Pirates disposed of much of their high-priced talent this season, they didn't come away empty handed.
They put several of their acquisitions on display in New York this weekend and used them to beat the pennant-hungry Mets two out of three.
In this game, Bob Kipper, a 21-year-old left-hander obtained from the Angels in the John Candelaria trade, held the Mets to two hits in eight innings. When he faltered, Pat Clements, a 23-year-old left-hander obtained in the same deal, closed out the Mets for his second save.
In Friday's win, R.J. Reynolds, sent to the Pirates as part of the Bill Madlock trade, homered in the 11th inning to beat the Mets. He also singled in the first run of this game to give the Pirates a lead they never relinquished. First baseman Sid Bream, also acquired in the Madlock deal, had two hits and scored a run.
Cincinnati 6, Houston 5--The Reds aren't giving up without a battle. In this game at Houston, Dave Concepcion hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning to score Dave Parker from third and keep the Reds 5 1/2 games behind the Dodgers.
Parker opened the ninth with a double and was sacrificed to third.
The Reds fought back from 2-0 and 5-4 deficits before pulling out the victory. They pulled even for the last time in the sixth when reliever Frank DiPino walked three batters in a row after a two-out single.
The Reds hope to pick up some ground in the next few days when they host the lowly Atlanta Braves while the Dodgers are playing three at Houston against the Astros who have won 21 of their last 26.
Atlanta 7, San Diego 5--Claudell Washington and Glenn Hubbard each knocked in two runs at San Diego as the Braves ended a six-game losing streak. The Padres, defending champions in the West, are 12 games behind the Dodgers with 13 to play.