Carl Yastrzemski slammed two homers to lead the Red Sox to 5-0 revenge over St. Louis yesterday but the game ball went to Jim Lonborg. Lonborg came within seven batters of pitching a perfect game as he shut out the powerful Cardinals on one hit.
As the 24-year-old right-hander breezed into the seventh inning with a 2-0 lead, he had retired 18 consecutive men. Many fans in Fenway Park recalled Don Larson's perfect game for the Yanks in the '56 series. When the dangerous Lou Brock grounded meekly to second, it was easy to imagine catcher Elston Howard leaping Yogi Berra-style into Lonborg's arms.
But these dreams were quickly shattered when fussy Curt Flood watched a 3-2 pitch miss by inches. Lonborg still had a no-hitter, though, and he retired Maris and Cepeda to end the inning.
Thanks to Yastrzemski's three-run homer, Lonborg took a comfortable 5-0 lead to the mound in the eighth. The buzzing in Fenway rose to cheering when Tim McCarver hit an easy dribbler to Adair at second. After shortstop Rico Petrocelli swept up Mike Shannon's grounder, the cheer mounted to a high- pitch scream. Lonborg sthood just four outs away from pitching the second World Series no-hitter in baseball history.
Unfortunately Julian Javier, batting seventh in the line-up witha 281 average, has no appreciation of history. When Lonborg hung a slider in front of him, he promptly slashed it into the left field corner for a double. Unrattled, Lonborg threw down pinch-hitter Bob Tolan to retire the side.
When superbird Lou Brock, 4 for 4 yesterday and 0 for 4 against Lonborg, asked plate umpire A1 Barlick to check for a spitball to lead off the ninth, there could be no more doubt that the Cardinals were dead. It was Lonborg who should have been given the saliva test. Soon the final out was salted away in the glove of centerfielder Reggie Smith, and the Sox evened the Series at 1-1.
Yaz led off the fourth inning and Boston's scoring with a 360-foot homer run into the sixth row of the right field stands. The blast was a slightly straightened version of the long foul he socked in the first inning before settling for a walk.
In the sixth, Yaz again led off with a long fly out to left. Scott and Reggie Smith followed with walks, and Cardinal manager Red Schoendienst galloped to the mound to talk to the tiring Hughes. No one was ready in the bullpen, so the bespectacled starter stayed to pitch to Jery Adair. Adair slammed a double-play grounder to third baseman Mike Shannon, who muffed it to load the bases.
After Willis replaced Hughes, Petrocelli sent Flood deep to center for his sacrifice fly to score Scott and moved Smith to third. Petrocelli took second on a delayed double steal as Shannon made a diving stop of catcher McCarver's throw to save a run. Elston Howard was then intentionally walked to load the bases, and Lonborg--after hitting a line foul off Jose Tartabull in the on-deck circle--struck out on three pitches.
Tartabull drew the second walk off Willis to lead off the eighth. Dalton Jones pushed a single past Shannon, and Schoendinst trotted out to greet left-hander Joe Hoerner--the greatest thing to happen to Boston since A1 Worthington. Yaz belted a tape-measure drive some 430 feet into the right field swarm, and the Sox lead 5-0. Boston skies gushed rain, and the lights went on at Fenway