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This day in baseball history

On September 17, 1963, the Los Angeles Dodgers extended their NL lead over the second place St. Louis Cardinals to three games, as Sandy Koufax shut out the Cards 4-0. Koufax ran his record to 24-5 and lowered his ERA to 1.87.

Koufax’s four-hitter was a model of efficiency, very unlike the performances that had characterized his early career. He struck out only four and didn’t walk anyone. The only real blemishes occurred in the third inning when Koufax hit Tim McCarver and then made a throwing error on Curt Simmons’ bunt.

The error put runners on second and third with one out. However, McCarver was then cut down at home plate on a ground ball to Maury Wills, and Koufax retired Dick Groat to end the inning.

Simmons, the former Whiz Kid who was enjoying an outstanding season, kept the Cards in the game. Entering the 8th inning the Dodgers led 1-0.

Simmons retired the first two Dodgers — Wills and Jim Gilliam — in the 8th. But Tommy Davis singled, big Frank Howard homered, and that was all she wrote.

The Cardinals now had to win the series finale, which would pit Bob Gibson against Pete Richert, and prove to be the most dramatic game of the NL season.

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