Pittsburgh came back like Shane and Little Sheba never did. Willie Stargell, who had been hitting .067, derricked two home runs over Forbes Field's right-field roof. His first broke up a 1-1 tie, his second enabled the Pirates to turn a 7-4 incipient loss into an 8-7 win. Roberto Clemente and Matty Alou fractured two more ties. Alou hadn't seen the ball he hit. Blass pitched a three-hitter after striking out in a softball game. ST. LOUIS, after playing like the Great Horned Owl vs. Field Mice, lost plumage. The Cards dropped their first night game in five, went 2-3 and benched Dal Maxvill and Julian Javier. The NEW YORK Mets so enjoyed the drama of losing 1-0 in 15 innings to the Dodgers Friday that they lost another 1-0 game Saturday and ran their scoreless innings to 30. Dick Selma, cheerleader, ranks up there as a pitcher, too. Selma struck out four of seven Padres to save a 5-4 PHILADELPHIA victory and set down five of eight Giants in a 6-1 win. MONTREAL was 3-11. "I'm knee-deep in triple mediocrity," Gene Mauch growled.
CHI 11-3 ST. L 9-5 PITT 10-6 NY 8-8 PHIL 8-8 MONT 3-11
"We got some good boppers," said CINCINNATI Manager Sparky Anderson, who wasn't telling the National League anything it hadn't known since 1867 or so. It did seem the Reds were more roisterous than ever. The ruffians got 19 runs, 27 hits and 10 home runs in two games (seven in one), and Tony Perez quarterstaffed every pitcher in sight. Perez hit homers in four consecutive games and nine in the first 18, an NL record. He was also .500 in his first 66 at bats. Here's the ominous news: Cincy had three pitchers among the 10 ERA leaders, led by rookie Wayne Simpson's 0.58. The world was not LOS ANGELES' oyster. On Earth Day the Dodgers discovered that ace starter Bill Singer had caught hepatitis from reliever Pete Mikkelsen, who had gotten it from a sick shellfish. Hepatitis is decidedly infectious, and the Dodgers may be the first baseball team ever sidelined en masse. Yet the Dodgers had a good week. Another sick pitching staff got a shot in the arm when Juan Marichal of SAN FRANCISCO pitched five innings in his first start. But Don MacMahon couldn't hang on to a 3-0 lead even against Montreal. HOUSTON'S Joe Pepitone flew to New York on an off day. "No sooner than I got in," he said, "I heard—pow, pow—a shooting. Same old town." Same old team, too. Away from the Astrodome's Astro Turf, the Astros lost six straight. With Cecil Upshaw and Ron Reed still out, ATLANTA—last year's best in the West—looked like the least in the East until faltering Phil Niekro finally got his flutterball working. The SAN DIEGO Padres struck out 19 times in one game.
CINN 14-6 LA 8-8 SF 9-10 ATL 7-11 HOUS 7-12 SD 6-12
Springtime began on Easter, the day Mayo Smith slammed the clubhouse door after another exhibition debacle and told the DETROIT players, "You're taking money under false pretenses." The Tigers won the rest of their preseason games, and an eight-game winning streak ran their regular record to 10-3 before losing two to the Twins. Bill Freehan's homer and Cesar Gutierrez' double won two games in late innings. "We have the best team in baseball," complained Earl Weaver of BALTIMORE. "We'll have to get back in first place where we belong before I'll be happy." Well, Frank Robinson was hitting again (.386, in fact), Dave Johnson was .370, the Orioles knocked off the Royals, and there it was: first place. Good news from BOSTON: lefthander Gary Peters pitched a shutout at Fenway Park. Bad news: Sonny Siebert went to 3-2 on the first four hitters in the first game of the same doubleheader, launched two wild pitches and the Red Sox lost 10-4. Frank Howard of WASHINGTON, with home runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday, was back to pasteing 500-foot shots through upper-deck exits, and Lee Maye raised his average 170 points, but pitching was bad. Monday George Brunet gave the Yankees five runs before retiring a man. Saturday he yielded four runs in four innings and lowered his ERA—to 9.35. CLEVELAND (2-3) moved into the cellar, evicting NEW YORK (3-5). "Being last at this stage doesn't bother me," said Ralph Houk.
BALT 11-5 DET 10-5 BOST 7-8 WASH 7-8 NY 7-11 CLEV 5-9
Minnesota was strong on oddities and everything else. Brant Alyea-Jim Perry witchery continued unabated. Though Perry did not win, he remains unbeaten at 3-0, thanks to Alyea, who drove in four runs in the three innings Perry pitched against Detroit. Perry thus escaped with no decision after giving up six runs. Alyea—leading the league in batting and RBIs—had seven of his 16 hits, all four homers and 19 of 20 RBIs in games Perry pitched. If that didn't have Bowie Kuhn screening Alyea's associates for pointed ears and cloven hooves, one play on Saturday would have. Leftfielder Alyea got an assist on the pitcher's mound and a put out near home plate that prevented an inside-the-park home run on a strikeout. With two out, Detroit's Earl Wilson struck out, the Twins headed for the dugout and nationwide TV cut to a commercial. But the umpire signaled the third strike had been trapped. Wilson ambled to first, then started running. Alyea saw what was happening in time to pick up the ball, throw to Shortstop Leo Cardenas and get the ball back to tag Wilson out between third and home. CALIFORNIA was half a game ahead of Minnesota, but Andy Messersmith strained his shoulder stretching a single into a double. After yielding five runs in 4‚Öî innings for his first loss, Messersmith said, "There's nothing wrong with my arm. Nothing wrong with it. Nothing." His eyes were rimmed with red. Al Downing pitched a three-hitter, Chuck Dobson got his first win, Sal Bando returned to third base but OAKLAND still hovered around .500. KANSAS CITY had four home runs in one game and lost. CHICAGO'S Tom McCraw stole second every time he reached first base. That was only twice. MILWAUKEE had a certified witch cast a spell for the Brewers. It may have helped win two of three in Boston.
MINN 10-4 CAL 12-5 OAK 8-8 KC 6-10 CHI 6-10 MIL 5-11