July 20, 1960----Another loss to the Dodgers put the Pirates’ hold on first place at only a half-game over the red-hot Milwaukee Braves, who won their 7th in a row. Right-hander George Witt, recently recalled from AAA where he had been rehabbing his sore arm, started for the Pirates (51-35) against All-Star Stan Williams of the Dodgers.
Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning on Duke Snider’s HR. But the Pirates gained a 3-1 lead in the 4th, powered by Hal Smith’s 3-run HR (#6) after Skinner singled and Stuart walked. The Dodgers rallied for 2 runs in the 5th to tie it 3-3. The rally ended when Norm Larker was caught in a rundown between first and second after a single to RF. Clemente picked up his 11th assist of the season on the play. The Dodgers took a 4-3 lead with a run in the 7th against Witt. The go-ahead run scored without the benefit of a hit. Maury Wills singled and stole second, and was bunted to third. Face then replaced Witt, and Wills scored on a sac fly by Junior Gilliam. Face struck out Wally Moon to end the inning. The Pirates went down in order in the 8th and Face pitched a scoreless bottom of the 8th despite a single and a walk. Trailing 4-3 with 1 out in the top of the ninth, Hal Smith tied it with his second HR of the game and 7th of the year. Face continued on the mound in the 9th and yielded a lead-off double to Wills but got out of the inning with no damage. Face was due to lead off the top of the 10th for the Pirates against new pitcher Ed Roebuck. Face had already pitched 2 2/3 innings. Nevertheless, Murtaugh sent Face to the plate to lead off the inning, and Face singled. After Virdon struck out, Face took second on a ground out by Groat. Roebuck gave Skinner an intentional walk, but then walked Stuart unintentionally to load the bases. Clemente followed with an infield hit to score Face and give the Pirates a 5-4 lead before Smith struck out to end the inning. But the Dodgers came right back in the bottom of the 10th with 4 singles against Face to tie the game at 5-5. The Pirates went down in order in the 11th against reliever Roger Craig (3-1) and, once again, Face took the mound. Face had relieved Witt with no outs in the 7th and remained in the game from that point on. Wally Moon led off the 11th with a single against Face and was bunted to second. But Tommy Davis, who had entered the game in the 10th as a pinch-runner, connected for a 2-run HR off Face (5-5) to win the game, 7-5, for LA. Face was working in his 5th inning of relief when the game ended.
Smith (.293) had 3 hits, including the 2 HRs and 4 RBIs for the Bucs. Clemente (.321) had a pair of hits. Witt went 6+ innings, giving up 7 hits, 4 runs and 2 walks with 3 Ks. The Pirates were hoping that the 26-year old redhead could regain his rookie form of 1958. Witt had been sensational that year, going 9-2 and leading the team with 3 shutouts and a remarkable 1.61 ERA while giving up only 78 hits in 106 innings with 81 Ks. But Witt had been plagued with arm problems ever since. In 1959, he was a dismal 0-7 with a 6.93 ERA in 50 2/3 innings with 58 hits, 32 BBs and 30 Ks. This had been Witt’s 2nd start of 1960 and 4th game overall. His ERA currently stood at 5.25 with 16 hits, 5 BBs and 3 Ks in 12 innings.
Witt’s elbow and shoulder problems prevented him from ever again duplicating his sensational rookie season of 1958. And as written in the book “Kiss It Good-Bye” by John Moody (published by Shadow Mountain, 2010), Witt did not always get along with his teammates. Years later, he would reveal that he was somewhat of a loner and misunderstood. According to Moody, when Don Hoak told him he needed to throw more between starts, Witt took offense, knowing his arm was hurting. That led to a fight between the two Pirates. Moody writes that Witt also stated that he and Tom Cheney fought after Cheney made derogatory comments about him in the bullpen. Who said you need chemistry in the clubhouse?