SAN FRANCISCO — As always, the sequel was not as good as the original. St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Greg Mathews, the surprising winner of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, didn't make it into the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants Sunday in Game 5.
Mathews had given up two runs in three innings and would have taken a 3-2 lead into the fourth. But he had reaggravated a strained right leg muscle and could not continue. He was replaced by Bob Forsch, who gave up four runs in the fourth and wound up a 6-3 loser.
"I couldn't bend my front leg on my windup," said Mathews, a left-hander out of Cal State Fullerton and Savanna High School in Anaheim. "When my thigh gets to that point, it won't support my body. My ball gets up and I couldn't finish off my curve."
Mathews said that the second-inning bases-empty home run Kevin Mitchell hit could be directly attributable to his injury.
This is not a new injury to Mathews. He had been bothered by it in the latter stages of the season. He said his leg did not hurt in Game 1, when he allowed 3 runs in 7 innings, but it started stiffening in the second inning Sunday.
"In the first game, I was pitching with the proper mechanics," Mathews said. "I wasn't today. I was so hyped up in the first couple of innings that I didn't feel it today. But then, holy cow, the leg was sore all over.
"It could be a number of things. Bad mechanics. Not loosening up with that wind. Who knows?"
Mathews' untimely departure left Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog with no alternative but to summon Forsch, who had pitched two scoreless innings Friday night in Game 3 and earned the win.
"I thought we asked too much of Forsch," Herzog said. "He pitched the other day and hadn't pitched too much in relief and I brought him back. I wanted a right-handed pitcher in because of the wind and he just didn't get anyone out.
"I knew (Mathews) was out of whack. I didn't want him to hurt his arm."
The Giants did a pretty good imitation of the Cardinals in the first inning, stealing twice off Mathews and catcher Tony Pena.
"After it happened, I knew what they were doing," Mathews said. "They were gambling that when I threw to first, they'd beat Danny's (first baseman Driessen) throw to second. I just didn't throw over there.
"It's strange. I really don't see them as a running team. They surprised me."
Should a seventh game be necessary on Wednesday in St. Louis, Giant Manager Roger Craig said he still is leaning toward starting Atlee Hammaker, who allowed three runs in six innings in Game 3 Friday night.
But Craig hasn't ruled out bringing back Mike Krukow, who pitched a complete game Saturday night in Game 4. Krukow, however, would be working on three days rest.
St. Louis reliever Todd Worrell said he is confident the Cardinals can win the series at home, mostly because the Cardinals will be at home.
"It's a good feeling to know we're getting out of here (Candlestick Park)," Worrell said. "The last thing we wanted was to come in here and get swept. That's why I think the first game (in San Francisco) was so pivotal that we won. Now, we're taking it back to our park."
Roger Craig said he wasn't surprised when Rick Reuschel volunteered in the fourth inning to leave the game, if a pinch-hitter could keep a big inning alive. It is hardly a common practice among pitchers, however.
Craig, a former pitcher himself, said: "He's a professional. He's not out there thinking of Rick Reuschel; he's thinking of the team. But it's very unusual for a guy to say something like that. I don't think I would have said something like that."
Owner Bob Lurie, who happened to be present in the manager's office when Craig was saying this, said General Manager Al Rosen and Bob Kennedy, vice president of operations, were together when Craig sent Mike Aldrete to bat for Reuschel. "Roger, you'll be happy to know that Rosen and Kennedy and Lurie all agreed with your move," Lurie said.
"That doesn't necessarily make it the right move," Craig replied, smiling.
Lurie, who acquired the Giants in 1976 and has threatened to move them somewhere else if a new stadium isn't built, later said: "Well, here we are, one win away, and I'll be pretty nervous by Tuesday. It's been a struggle ever since 1976, and our only goal since then has been to make the World Series. We're almost there, almost there."
Jack Clark update: His injured right ankle is no better, according to Herzog. But, with the Cardinals one game from elimination, will Clark be in the lineup anyway?
"We were hoping he might be able to play by the sixth game, but, no, I don't think he's going to be able to play."
The continued absence of the right-handed hitting Clark has left the Cardinals particularly vulnerable to left-handed pitching.
San Francisco left-handers Dave Dravecky, Joe Price, Atlee Hammaker and Craig Lefferts have worked 22 innings against the Cardinals with a 1.23 earned-run average. The Cardinals are batting .171 in that span.
San Francisco right-handers haven't been nearly as effective. They have a 4.15 ERA for 26 innings. The Cardinals are batting .329 for that span.
Times staff writers Ross Newhan and Mike Downey.