SAN FRANCISCO — Giant egos, swollen to about the size of Jack Clark's injured ankle, wound up considerably deflated by the end of an unseasonably pleasant evening at Candlestick Park.
San Francisco had a 4-0 sixth-inning lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series Friday night, and the Giants and a crowd of 57,913 were thoroughly enjoying it. From Jeffrey Leonard's home run strut to Will Clark's raised fist to the wacky chants of Giant fans--"Beat Jack Clark!"--a good time was being had by all.
Then came the exhumation of the Cardinals, which was swift and impressive. A four-run deficit was erased by a combination of power, speed and bundles of singles, and the Cardinals eventually earned a 6-5 victory that boosted some sagging Cardinal spirits.
"They had us down," said Jack Clark, maybe the most depressed Cardinal because of his injury. "But there was no reason to get down. This team is always coming back."
Now, the Giants know that, too.
Even after falling behind, two games to one, in the best-of-seven playoff series, Giant players kept a stiff upper lip and vowed they would be back.
"Yeah, definitely, we had them on the ropes," Will Clark, the Giants' first baseman, said. "We thought we had them with a 4-0 lead. But they exploded. They have the team that can do that.
"But remember, we can battle back, too."
The unraveling of the Giants coincided with the tiring of starter Atlee Hammaker, who was pitching one of his best games in several seasons. First, Hammaker allowed a one-out single to Ozzie Smith. Then, one out later, Jim Lindeman belted a two-run home run to right field.
Suddenly, the Giant lead seemed extremely surmountable. Giant Manager Roger Craig stayed with Hammaker entering the seventh, but that is when the Cardinal assault picked up steam.
Four consecutive singles--one against Hammaker and three against reliever Don Robinson--resulted in three St. Louis runs. Vince Coleman had the big hit, bringing home two runs with a bouncing single up the middle.
Lindeman, filling in for the ailing Clark, knocked in the fourth Cardinal run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to left field.
That gave St. Louis a come-from-behind 6-4 lead with three innings to play and ace reliever Todd Worrell on the mound. The Cardinals had to be feeling pretty good, themselves, at that time. Worrell shut down the Giants in the seventh and eighth but gave up a bases-empty home run to Harry Spilman with two out in the ninth to make things interesting.
But Kevin Mitchell flied meekly to center field, ending the game and lifting the spirits of the Cardinals, who had been growing more depressed as their injury list lengthened.
St. Louis has been without Clark for the entire series, but Friday night he was joined on the bench by third baseman Terry Pendleton, who sprained his left ankle chasing a fly ball during a workout Thursday night.
That meant 202 runs batted in were sitting next to each other in the visitors' dugout. Manager Whitey Herzog's starting lineup, which included light-hitting Tom Lawless at third base, Jose Oquendo in right field and Lindeman at first base, had accounted for only 31 home runs during the season.
Through the first five innings, the Cardinal offense generated almost nothing off Hammaker, who has overcome the effects of two rotator cuff surgeries in 1986.
Hammaker's five shutout innings, combined with Dave Dravecky's shutout in Game 2 and two scoreless innings in Game 1, meant that the Cardinals had gone 16 innings without a run.
Lindeman wanted to change all that. Lindeman, who had 8 home runs this season, hit a 1-and-1 outside fastball that just barely cleared the right-field fence. But the two-run homer changed the mood of the Cardinals, who had come back many times this season but not with such a patchwork lineup.
Said Herr: "That home run was real big for us. You could feel the boost on the bench. All of a sudden, we're only down two runs. That's nothing."
"That was a big home run for us," Herzog said. "It got us back in the game. But I think a key play came before that (in the fifth). (Reliever Bob) Forsch kept them from scoring with the bases loaded. We certainly couldn't have come back if they had scored any more runs. We'd have been too far down."
Forsch, who relieved starter Joe Magrane (four runs in four innings), gave up a one-out single to Mitchell in the fifth. Then, he hit Leonard in the right shoulder with a fastball that Herzog insisted was accidental. An error by second baseman Tommy Herr on a potential double-play ground ball loaded the bases, and the Cardinals seemingly were on the verge of conceding.
But Forsch got Chili Davis, who had doubled and scored off Magrane in the second, to pop to shortstop. Then Clark, who had a run-scoring single in the second, flied to right to end the threat.
Forsch, who worked two scoreless innings, got the win. Robinson, charged with three runs in the seventh, was the loser.