1969: Padres Beat Carlton, Cardinals

May 10, 1969, St. Louis: Padres 5, Cardinals 3 (box score)

The Cardinals started quickly in this one. In the first inning, with Lou Brock at second and two out, Joe Torre hammered a two-run homer to center off Joe Niekro to give the home team a 2-0 lead. Ordinarily that might be enough for Steve Carlton, the 24-year-old left-hander from Miami.

Through the first three innings, the Padres couldn’t get anything going against Carlton. The Cardinals, meanwhile, tacked on another run in the third on a Torre single that scored Brock.

In the top of the fourth, facing the bottom of the Padres order, Carlton ran into trouble. After Ed Spiezio struck out to lead off the inning, Cito Gaston walked. Chris Cannizzaro followed with a single to left, bringing up Niekro’s spot in the order.

Manager Preston Gomez sent Larry Stahl to bat for Niekro, and Stahl walked to load the bases. After Jerry DaVanon singled home Gaston, Roberto Pena — of all people — belted a grand slam to give the Padres a 5-3 lead.

For Pena, it was his first home run of the season and just the fourth of his career. It also was enough to chase Carlton. Right-hander Gary Waslewski came on for the Cardinals and put two runners on before retiring Spiezio to end the inning.

For the Padres, Johnny Podres relieved Niekro and tossed 4 2/3 innings of one-hit ball. On offense, they mounted several more threats, most notably with three hits and a walk in the eighth, but failed to capitalize.

Fortunately, the Padres had all the runs they would need. Frank Reberger replaced Podres in the eighth and retired Torre on a ground out to end the inning. Reberger then nailed down the victory by striking out the side in the ninth.

Trivia: Of Pena’s four home runs at that point in his career, two had come off Carlton. In May 1970, while playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, Pena would hit his second grand slam, an inside-the-park job against Detroit’s Les Cain.

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