September 27, 1964: The Phillies are Seeing Red

September 27, 1964. It's official. The Phillies slide has hit panic proportions as they drop their seventh straight game, this time to Milwaukee. The loss marked the day that the Phillies surrendered their grip on first place in the National Legaue pennant race. However, it wouldn't be the Cardinals – who would eventually win the '64 World Series – who passed them. No, there was another team destined for disappointment in 1964.

The slide started started when Cincinnati's Chico Ruiz stole home and the Reds stole a 1-0 win over the Phillies on September 21st. That one innocent loss had now blossomed into a six game losing skid as the Phillies prepared to play Milwaukee at Connie Mack Stadium six days later.

With their lead down to ½ game, the Phillies looked to salvage the final game of their four-game series with the Braves. Jim Bunning was on the mound for the Phillies. Bunning had been the starter for the Phillies in their last win, which had come in Los Angeles, so spirits were still high even though things had gotten much bleaker.

To say the least, it was not Bunning's day. Offensively, Johnny Callison did all he could to save his club, hitting three homeruns, but Milwaukee jumped on Bunning and out-slugged the Phillies 14-8. Now, the Phillies had to sit back and watch the scoreboard, with their fingers crossed. The Cardinals, who started the day in third 1 ½ games out, won in Pittsburgh to move to within ½ game of the Phillies. The real bad news came from New York. The Cincinnati Reds, who had started the Phillies demise, swept both ends of a double-header from the Mets. When the sun set on that Sunday afternoon, the Phillies were in second place, a full game behind Cincinnati and just ½ game ahead of St.Louis.

The previous week had seen Ruiz' steal of home to cost the Phillies a 1-0 game. Chris Short and Jim Bunning got pounded in losses to Cincinnati and Milwaukee, respectively. Joe Torre beat the Phillies in the opener of the series with the Braves and then Milwaukee battled for a 7-5 win over the Phillies in 12 innings in the second game of the series. Just the day before the Phillies streak hit seven games, it was Rico Carty who beat them with a three-run triple in the ninth, bringing the Braves from behind for a 6-4 win. Meanwhile, St.Louis and Cincinnati, who were both 6 ½ games out just one week earlier, had put the Phillies into a scramble to save their season.

For the Reds, the day before they launched the Phillies downfall, they had beaten St.Louis. They would go on to put together a nine-game winning streak to move themselves into first place. St.Louis stayed calm. After their loss to Cincinnati, they split a pair of games in New York. The Cardinals would then put together an eight-game winning streak that would keep them within striking distance. When Cincinnati stumbled against Pittsburgh, the Cardinals kept winning.

As the Braves left town, the Phillies also left town for a series with the Cardinals in St.Louis. If there was a way to save the season, the Phillies had it all in front of them with three games in St.Louis and then two in Cincinnati to end the season. Although they were no longer the front runners, they still had their fate in their own hands entering the final week of the season.

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