When it was over, the Atlanta Braves' big hitters -- Dale Murphy, Chris Chambliss and Bob Horner -- had gone four for 32 with no home runs and no runs batted in.

Which explains why the St. Louis Cardinals swept the Braves in three games to win the National League pennant, getting the final victory tonight, 6-2.

The Braves set a three-game playoff series record by getting only 15 hits and only one of them was for extra bases, a ground rule double by Bruce Benedict in Game 2.

"We just pitched them the way we wanted to," said St. Louis Manager Whitey Herzog.

Murphy, who hit 36 home runs in the regular season and had two singles tonight, would agree with that.

"They pitched really well," he said. "Sometimes when you don't hit it's because you get yourself out and other times it's because they get you out. In this series, they got us out. They pitched us in the right places and positioned their fielders right, too."

Said Atlanta Manager Joe Torre: "We had some trouble hitting the ball."

"Our offense never got going," added first baseman Chambliss, who batted .270 with 20 home runs and 86 RBI in the regular season, but was 0-10 in this series. It was also Chambliss who hit into a double play in the seventh inning when the Braves were making their only rally of the game.

"Our offense is our strength and we didn't have it this series," Chambliss said.

"It was fine pitching against us. Baseball is a game of luck as well as skill sometimes. We hit the ball well a lot, but it was usually at them."

Murphy's inability to hit the long ball, combined with Chambliss' and Horner's ineptness, forced the Braves to rely on their pitching staff. It wasn't deep or strong enough to do the job.

Tonight's starter, Rick Camp, made it through the first inning, but then gave up four runs on four hits without getting a batter out in the second. The big hit was a two-run triple by Willie McGee.

"I made a bad pitch," Camp said. "It was a fast ball belt high and all it did was sit out over the plate for him. That broke the game open. I know I can pitch better than I did. I can't explain what happened."

Not many of the Braves could.

"The Cardinals are just a better team than we are," said Torre. "We played our hearts out, but we were outplayed. Murphy really struggled and that hurt us. He's been pressing lately, too. Maybe he was trying too hard to do too much. The bottom line is they made the plays when they had to and we didn't."

The Cardinals got three double plays, the Braves none.

"We came awfully close, but we're still so far away," said pitcher Phil Niekro. "We fought hard and played good, but . . . "

Nevertheless, "I feel we had a fine season and we're proud of what we accomplished," said Chambliss.

Torre, not even waiting a day to think about next season, said the Braves need left-handed pitching help if they want to be contenders again next year. "We're happy we gave this city something positive to cheer about, though," he said.