It appeared for an instant that HOUSTON (0-7) Centerfielder Jim Wynn was going to make a spectacular running catch of Richie Allen's long drive to center. Instead, Wynn crashed into the outfield wall in Philadelphia's Connie Mack Stadium, bounced back five feet, and lay crumpled on the grass with a dislocated left elbow and wrist as Allen circled the bases with a game-winning, in-side-the-park homer. Moaned Manager Grady Hatton, "This is my 21st year in baseball, and I've never seen the likes of the injuries we have suffered this year." Injuries to key players such as Wynn and Joe Morgan, who finally returned after missing six weeks with a broken knee cap, have been mainly responsible for the Astros' plummet from fourth place, five games out in late June, to eighth place, 15 back last week. The team's latest losing streak reached eight games and 15 of its last 16. Said Hatton, "We thought we could come back. Now we have as much chance as the man in the moon." One team that is coming back is CINCINNATI (6-1). Tommy Harper (below) extended his batting streak to 23 games, and Relief Pitcher Don Nottebart saved two games and won two others. He now has five victories and four saves. With a 19-8 record since he took over as manager on July 13 (the Reds were nine games below .500), Dave Bristol announced: "We're looking for nothing but first place." PITTSBURGH (4-3), in and out of first place during the week, broke a four-game losing streak as Reliever Pete Mikkelsen allowed only two hits in two innings against the Dodgers for his seventh victory, and Bob Veale and Vernon Law pitched complete game wins over LA. Veale's complete game was the first for the Pirates in two and a half weeks (53 pitchers were used). Answering critics who said the Pirates were weak on the mound, Pitching Coach Clyde King growled, "If our pitching was as bad as I hear it is, we'd be in sixth place." Clyde said that before Starter Steve Blass (8-4) fractured his right thumb. For the first time in two weeks and for only the second time this season Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale won back-to-back games for LOS ANGELES (4-3). The Dodgers slipped to second after the three losses in a row to the Pirates, but a three-game visit to Houston put LA on top again. SAN FRANCISCO (4-3) lost six of its last 11 games—all against second-division teams—after being ahead or tied in the seventh inning in eight of them. Last week the Giants dissipated a five-run, eighth-inning lead against the Mets and followed that with two straight losses to the Cubs. Juan Marichal (17-5) received credit for a win in relief but was knocked out of the box by the Mets two days later in his first start in two weeks, while Frank Linzy lost in relief in three of the last 11 games the Giants played. Heavy hitting by Bill White, John Callison, John Briggs and Cookie Rojas moved PHILADELPHIA (5-2) into the pennant race. White, with a .375 batting average for the week, homered to beat the Astros and Briggs's home run defeated the Braves. After winning 12 of 13, ST. LOUIS (3-5) dropped five straight. Rookie Steve Carlton, called Ichabod Crane by his teammates, broke the losing streak with his first major league victory. A pinch-hit, three-run homer by Ron Swoboda in the bottom of the ninth against the Giants gave NEW YORK (2-6) one of its two wins during the week. When CHICAGO (4-2) took two straight from the Giants after taking two of three from ATLANTA (3-3) a Chicago paper said in a headline, CUBS IN THICK OF PENNANT RACE. The only thing the Braves were in the thick of was controversy. Fans accused General Manager John McHale of playing for next season when he called up several young players from the Richmond farm after the Braves fell to seventh place. Said McHale with a straight face, "We're not giving up on this season."
Standings: LA 63-45, Pitt 64-46, SF 65-47, Phil 60-51, StL 57-53, Cin 56-54, Atl 51-59, Hou 49-61, NY 49-61, Chi 36-71
After DETROIT'S (4-3) Dennis McLain pitched a four-hitter against the White Sox (his first win since the All-Star Game), he announced that Detroit "is a country-club team...and the managerial situation is ridiculous." Faced with a stiff fine and the anger of the team, McLain denied the statements: "May God strike me dead if I said those things." Upon hearing that, one of his teammates said, "I don't know whether I'd want to ride on an airplane with Dennie." BOSTON (2-6) had no problem striking McLain four days later as the Red Sox scored four runs in 3‚Öì innings to break a five-game losing streak and give McLain his fifth loss in his last six starts. Complete game wins by NEW YORK'S (3-6) Mel Stottlemyre and Steve Hamilton, his first career shutout in 187 games (all but seven were in relief) plus Whitey Ford's first victory since July 16 were overshadowed by the lackluster play of Roger Maris. Commenting on Maris, one New York paper said, FOR SALE: A $70,000 LOAF. Someone who didn't loaf was Paul Schaal of CALIFORNIA (3-4) who broke his finger when he dove headlong into Yankee Catcher Jake Gibbs to complete a game-winning, 11th-inning, inside-the-park home run. Twenty-year-old Jay Johnstone, brought up to replace ailing Rick Reichardt, had eight hits in his first 17 major league at bats. CLEVELAND (5-3) Manager Birdie Tebbetts considered his news important enough to interrupt his players' sleep on the plane bringing them home from Anaheim. "Hey," he announced, "I thought you guys would like to know that McDowell will open the Oriole series." Tebbetts should have let his players sleep. McDowell had poor control and was hit hard, giving up five runs and three walks in three innings. Said Not-So-Sudden Sam after the game, "I wish somebody would tie down the plate." BALTIMORE (2-4) lost three straight (their longest losing streak) for only the third time this season, and went three games in a row without a homer for only the second time. When asked about the pennant race, however, Boog Powell said, "If we don't win they ought to line us up and shoot us!" Infuriated by a Los Angeles paper's headline that "the most exciting thing the White Sox do is run off the field," CHICAGO (4-2) took three games from the Angels. Jimmy Hall batted .530, with four homers and 10 RBIs, accounting for the winning runs in each game as MINNESOTA (6-2) swept a four-game series from Boston. It put the Twins three games over .500, their best record since mid-May. KANSAS CITY (4-4) and WASHINGTON (4-3) split a four-game series as relief pitching predominated. The Senators' Ron Kline earned his 15th save, and the Senators' bullpen allowed only two earned runs in 25‚Öì innings (0.71 ERA), while the A's Jack Aker gained his 18th save. In an unprecedented move, Manager Al Dark credited KC Owner Charlie Finley with the decision to bring up 21-year-old Jim Nash from Mobile, who boosted his record to 5-0. "Finley has real good judgment," said Dark.
Standings: Balt 71-39, Det 59-50, Clev 59-51, Cal 57-53, Minn 57-54, Chi 55-55, NY 50-61, KC 49-61, Wash 51-64, Bos 47-67
REDS TOMMY HARPER
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
In his three previous years with the Cincinnati Reds, 25-year-old Tommy Harper was lost in the shadows of Outfielders Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson. With Robinson now starring in the American League and Pinson having an off year, Harper has finally been discovered. Dubbed "Felix the Cat" (for no particular reason) by Manager Dave Bristol, Harper was batting only .269 in mid-June. Then he started to hit and this week moved briefly into the National League's top 10. His average as of Sunday was .309. Since July 17, four days after Bristol became the Reds' manager, Felix the Cat has hit safely in 23 consecutive games, batted .361 (35 for 97), scored 18 runs (67 for the season), and the Reds have won 17 of 23 games. As leadoff man, Harper has been on base over 40% of the time during the streak. Once on base he has been even more of a threat, stealing 18 bases in 24 attempts. Says Bristol, "He's got the green light to run whenever he wants...he sets the stage for us." Harper's speed and daring also show up in right field. In a game that Cincinnati won last week he ended a Cardinal rally with a fine running catch that left two men on base in the fourth inning. Two innings later his leaping, one-handed stab robbed Lou Brock of a bases-loaded, extra-base hit. His talents have endeared Harper to all of Cincinnati—but especially to Bristol. "Everyone likes him and respects him," said Bristol. "He's a leader now."