All season the Tigers have been looking for a second stopper to pair up with pitching ace Denny McLain. Their search ended last week when Earl Wilson, who stopped the opposition 22 times last season but has been ailing most of this, won twice. His first victory, a shutout, halted a four-game DETROIT (4-2) losing streak, and his second, which he helped win with a three-run homer, got the Tigers off on the right foot in a crucial series against the challenging Orioles. BALTIMORE (4-4) lost ground on the league leaders by dropping two to the Senators, a team that had not beaten the Orioles in 12 previous games this year. Said Manager Earl Weaver after the defeats, "I guess we were looking ahead to the Tiger series and saying to ourselves, 'O.K., let's get these two with the Senators over.' Well, they're over." WASHINGTON (5-3), which enjoyed its best week since early June, received surprisingly tight pitching from the majors' worst staff. It allowed just seven runs in the wins and shut out the opposition twice. CHICAGO'S (3-3) pitchers matched that shutout total, once on a four-hitter by Jerry Nyman, who was making his first big-league start. As BOSTON (4-2) moved back up to third, its hitters and pitchers were getting together just as they did a year ago. Red Sox batters scored 27 runs in the team's wins while the pitchers held the opposition to only seven. MINNESOTA'S (5-3) pitchers allowed five or fewer hits in five games but still lost three of them as the Twins' hitters, the best of the league's dormant lot, managed only a .206 average. Vic Davalillo, a part-time player until he was traded to CALIFORNIA (3-5) in June, has been hitting at a .300 pace since going west. After a .440 mark last week, the former sub now has his eye on the batting title. "After all, I checked the paper and found I'm only 8 points behind Carl Yastrzemski, who is leading the league now," he said, NEW YORK (4-5), which totaled just 16 runs and went scoreless for 34 innings, still managed to hold sixth place on the shutout pitching of Stan Bahnsen, Steve Hamilton and Fritz Petersen. Arm troubles are making it tough for CLEVELAND (2-5) to stay in the first division. Only Stan Williams of the Indians' starting five is not suffering from a sore elbow or tendonitis. OAKLAND'S (3-5) young pitchers are beginning to show the strain of the long season. They allowed 39 runs, including 12 homers, as the Athletics came within a game of slipping back to sixth.
Standings: Det 85-51, Balt 79-57, Bos 73-64, Clev 73-67, Oak 69-68, NY 67-68, Minn 66-71, Cal 61-77, Chi 57-79, Wash 53-81
Improbably enough, it was the Mets who were slowing down ST. LOUIS' (3-3) charge to the pennant, NEW YORK (4-3), which moved briefly up to eighth place, handed the Cardinals their only losses. Two of them were back-to-back shutouts by rookie Jim McAndrew and Dick Selma and a third came on a win by Tom Seaver in which he missed a perfect game by just six outs. CINCINNATI'S (4-3) batters, who are outhitting the rest of the major league teams by 24 points, pasted the opposition for a .289 average while Gerry Arrigo and Tony Cloninger pitched consecutive complete games, the first time the Reds have had two in a row since early June. Heavy hitting by Henry Aaron (.462) and Felipe Alou (.400) combined with shutout pitching by Phil Niekro, Milt Pappas and Claude Raymond prevented slumping ATLANTA (4-3) from dropping out of the first division. Gaylord Perry of SAN FRANCISCO (4-2) pitched his best game ever, a one-hitter in which the Cubs' Glenn Beckert, who rolled a ground single through the middle, was the only man to reach base. Two pinch hits by Ken Boyer, one a three-run eighth-inning double and the other a ninth-inning run-scoring single, gave LOS ANGELES (3-3) two of its wins. HOUSTON (3-3) felt about as happy as some members of the Democratic Convention after the first game of a series with the Cubs. During the bus trip in from the airport, the team spent a few nervous moments passing through a dissenters' barricade. Arriving at their hotel, the Astros then found themselves in the middle of a chemical war between protesters using acid stink bombs and police using tear gas. Events out at CHICAGO'S (2-4) Wrigley Field were hardly more pleasant as Ferguson Jenkins beat the Astros for his 16th win and Ron Santo clubbed two home runs to account for all five Cub runs. PITTSBURGH (3-3) General Manager Joe Brown lavished praise and a 1969 contract on Field Manager Larry Shepard, whose team has been slowed by injuries to key players, including four-time batting champion Roberto Clemente and Pitcher Jim Bunning. Front-office support like that should make a nervous man of Shepard. The last time Brown went through such pomp and circumstance, then-Manager Harry Walker found himself fired a few weeks later. With 22 pitchers allowing 39 runs, there was not much to cheer about in PHILADELPHIA (2-5) except that a bartender, who was suing slugger Richie Allen for assault, decided to drop the charges.
Standings: StL 86-51. SF 73-62, Cin 71-62, Chi 71-67, Atl 68-69, Pitt 65-71, Hou 64-73, Phil 62-73, NY 63-76, LA 58-77
ALSTON: BAD BOUNCEBACK
On August 17 the Dodgers, who just two years before had won their 10th pennant since 1947, dropped to the cellar. The decline of the National League's most successful team can be traced directly to the retirement of ace Pitcher Sandy Koufax and the abrupt exiling of team captain Maury Wills to Pittsburgh after the 1966 pennant victory. Last year, without the two stars, the Dodgers ended eighth. Even that finish did not discourage Los Angeles fans, who had seen their team rebound from second division finishes to win pennants in 1959 and 1965. But on June 10 the Dodgers lost the first of three to the Mets and began their steady skid to 10th. Operation Bounceback, a ticket-selling device that was meant to make the most of Manager Walt Alston's recuperative powers, fizzled. Attendance is down 6% and a record-low crowd of 8,928 showed up for one game last week. The Dodger pitching is still strong (2.69 ERA), but the team's hitting is weaker than ever, ranking last at .224, and its defense is the league's fourth worst. Fresco Thompson, a nice man who perhaps should have thought twice before taking over the general managership from Buzzie Bavasi, temporarily safe in San Diego, blames the players' attitude for the poor showing. "Sometime in the past year and a half, they have lost pride in themselves and in being Dodgers. It is disgraceful to lose to teams like the Mets and the Astros." Maybe so, but as one big league scout says, "The Dodgers always used to have the best minor league players. Now you would be hard pressed to find six of their farm hands worth a shot at the majors." Operation Bounceback may have to start somewhere south of the ticket booths.