August 25, 1965: 23-year-old Tony Perez takes a big step toward establishing his career clutch hitter reputation as he unloads a 9th inning three-run pinch home run off Milwaukee Braves reliever Billy O’Dell in a Reds 7-4 victory in Milwaukee. The Perez home run marks the fourth time in 1965 that the Reds defeat the Braves in Milwaukee on last inning home runs off Braves star reliever O’Dell.
O’Dell was one of the Braves’ best pitchers in 1965. Acquired from the San Francisco Giants in the offseason for catcher Ed Bailey, O’Dell was 10-6 for the Braves with a 2.18 ERA (161 ERA+) and 18 saves. He appeared in 62 games and pitched 111 innings out of the bullpen. He had been a starting pitcher for the Giants, winning 19 games in 1962, but the Braves got him to protect leads for young starters Tony Cloninger (24-11, 3.29) and Wade Blasingame (16-10, 3.77). O’Dell did this very well, except for when pitching against the Reds. Against the 1965 Reds, O’Dell was 0-4 with a 5.14 ERA (for his career, O’Dell was 7-8 vs. the Reds with a 3.71 ERA).
Here’s 1965 game by game:
June 25: Don Pavletich connects for a two-run 11th inning home run with Deron Johnson aboard to give the Reds a 3-1 victory over O’Dell and the Braves. The Reds had scored once in the top of the first on a Johnson single, but the Braves tied it in the fourth when Joe Torre homered off Reds starter Sammy Ellis (Ellis would win 22 games this 1965 season). O’Dell had entered the game to start the tenth inning in relief of Dick Kelley and had retired the first four batters he faced before Johnson singled. One-out later, Pavletich homered to give the Reds their 3-1 lead. Ellis retired the Braves in order in the bottom of the 10th to finish his complete game victory for the Reds. The win kept the Reds in second place, 2 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Braves were fourth at this time, five games behind.
June 27: The Reds’ Frank Robinson leads off the top of the ninth inning with a home run off Braves reliever Billy O’Dell to break a 9-9 tie and give the Reds a 10-9 victory in the first game of a double header in Milwaukee. Reds reliever Billy McCool struck out one batter and retired two more on foul flies to save the game for the Reds.
The Reds had built a 9-1 lead on the strength of home runs by Deron Johnson, Tony Perez, and Tommy Harper by the middle of the sixth inning. However, the Braves erupted for eight runs off Reds starter John Tsitouris in the sixth to tie the game at 9-9. Two Reds errors and six Braves hits, including home runs by Frank Bolling and Joe Torre, enabled the Braves to tie the game. McCool was the winning pitcher, pitching 3 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball to get the win.
The Reds won the second game, 10-2, to sweep the doubleheader as Vada Pinson hit a grand slam home run in the fourth and Robinson followed Pinson with a solo shot. Jim Maloney went the distance for the victory. The win moved the second place Reds to within one game of first place, while the Braves were now 4 1/2 games behind the Dodgers.
August 24: Tommy Harper unloads a two-out, two-run ninth inning home run off Braves reliever Billy O’Dell to give the Reds a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth inning. Reds reliever Billy McCool strikes out three Braves, allowing one single, in the bottom of the ninth inning to preserve the win.
The Braves struck first in the fourth inning with an Eddie Mathews home run off Reds starter Jim Maloney. The Reds tied it in the sixth on a Frank Robinson single, but the Braves re-took the lead in the seventh when a run scored on a force out at second base, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead. The Braves’ O’Dell had come into the game in the eighth inning to record the third out. He struck out Leo Cardenas to start the ninth inning, but allowed a single to catcher Jimmie Coker. Coker advanced to second on a ground out, but then Harper homered to drive in the last runs of the game.
By August the Reds had dropped to fourth place, but this win moved them to within 2 1/2 games of the Dodgers. The Braves, now in second place, remained 1/2 game behind the Dodgers.
August 25, 1965: Tony Perez cracks the three-run pinch homer in the ninth, off Braves reliever Billy O’Dell, to score what proved to be the winning runs in a 7-4 Reds victory over the Braves. The win pulled the fourth place Reds within 1 1/2 game of the first place Dodgers, while the Braves remained in second place, 1/2 game behind.
The Reds had scored first when Robinson smashed a two-run home run in the third inning. The game see-sawed and the Braves had tied at 4-4 in the eighth inning off Reds starter Sammy Ellis when Eddie Mathews singled home Hank Aaron with two outs.
Dan Osinski was on the mound for the Braves in relief when Deron Johnson led off the Reds half of the ninth with a single. Chico Ruiz was sent into pinch run for Johnson, but then Ruiz was replaced by Marty Keough as a pinch runner. Pavletich grounded out, with Keough advancing to second base. Cardenas grounded out and Johnny Edwards was issued an intentional walk. Gordy Coleman was called on to pinch hit for Ellis and the Braves countered with lefthanded O’Dell to face the lefty batting Coleman. Coleman was called back in favor of the righthanded Perez, and the Big Doggie powered a three-run homer to give the Reds the 7-4 lead. Reds closer McCool struck out the side in order in the ninth to preserve the Reds victory.
This win kept the Reds in fourth place, 1 1/2 games behind, while the Braves remained 1/2 game behind the Dodgers.
September 1: This wasn’t a home run, but the Reds beat O’Dell once more in the ninth, this time at home in Cincinnati. The Reds had tied this game in the sixth inning when pinch hitter Art Shamsky singled home Keough to knot the game at 6-6. Keough was pinch running for Perez who had doubled to lead off the inning.
The Reds won it in the bottom of the ninth. Coker led off the ninth with a single off Bob Sadowski, but was forced out at second by Keough. Gordy Coleman was called on to pinch hit for Cardenas, but the Braves countered (again) with lefty O’Dell. Coleman was once again taken down, this time in favor of rookie Lee May. May grounded out with Keough advancing to second base. Rookie Tommy Helms was called on to pinch hit for McCool and tripled to score Keough with the tying run. Osinski replaced O’Dell on the mound, but Tommy Harper followed with a run-scoring single to score Helms with the game winner, handing O’Dell his fourth loss to the Reds of the year.
This was a double header day, and Helms was rewarded with a second game start (rosters had expanded since it was September 1). Helms started at shortstop and went 3-3 with a double, a triple, and a stolen base as the Reds won 2-0 on a Jim Maloney shutout. Maloney walked one and struck out 12 in the game as the Reds moved into first place, one percentage point ahead of the Dodgers. However, that was the end of the glory, as the Reds played .500 ball the rest of the way (15-15) while the Dodgers won 22 of 28 to win the league title.
Odd factoid and additional info….Pete Rose played in every one of these games with the Braves, but somehow wasn’t involved in any of the winning rallies. He was actually quite effective during these seven games mentioned, going 6-27 with 8 walks, and six runs scored with a .400 OBP during these games. This was Rose’s first big year as he led the league with 209 hits, 757 plate appearances, and 670 at bats. He was third in the league in runs scored with 117 behind teammate’s Tommy Harper’s league leading 126 and 118 by Willie Mays. Rose and Vada Pinson finished the season 1-2 in hits with 209 and 204. Deron Johnson and Frank Robinson finished 1-2 in the league in rbi with 130 and 113. Robinson tied for fourth with 33 home runs. Rose, Harper, and Pinson were 1-2-3 in league plate appearances. Jim Maloney had the highest WAR for the team at 8.7 built on his 20-9 season with a 2.54 ERA.