Pittsburgh opened a 3½-game lead over NEW YORK with an unusual display of the Mets' own strength—tight pitching. Five consecutive Pirate starters pitched complete games, and four of them were surprises, indeed. Bob Veale, who had lost seven of his previous eight decisions, began the string and was followed by Luke Walker, usually a relief pitcher, who threw a shutout. Another reliever, Bruce Dal Canton, pitched his second complete game in the major leagues. Then Bob Moose, who recently missed a month with a sore elbow, capped his recovery with a four-hitter over the Mets. Ace Pitchers Ferguson Jenkins and Bill Hands both failed to hold early leads against the Phillies, and CHICAGO dropped six games behind the Pirates. Even worse, Billy Williams, who holds the National League record for consecutive games played at 1,094, wanted to get a rest. "I don't want to wear myself out before I should. I want to live to be able to do something after this game," said Williams. "I want to get this streak over with so I don't have to worry about it anymore, so I can get a rest once in a while just like any other ballplayer." ST. LOOTS, enjoying its hottest streak of the season by winning 10 of its last 12 games, received a defensive boost from usually weak fielding Richie Allen, who preserved a 2-1 victory over the Expos for Bob Gibson with a diving grab of Rusty Staub's hard grounder in the ninth inning with the winning run in scoring position. Tony Taylor ended a five-game losing streak for PHILADELPHIA with a two-run, eighth-inning single, and gave all the credit to his wife's cooking for his improved hitting. Nelda Taylor feeds her husband platefuls of avocados, rice and beans. "I never eat Wheaties," said the Cuban, whose .283 average is second best during his 12-year major league career. "I eat the food my wife cooks, Cuban food." Bob Bailey hit a home run in both of MONTREAL'S wins, and the Expos closed out their most successful home stand ever. The Canadian team, which was the pleasant surprise among the expansion franchises last season when it drew 1,212,608, packed almost 300,000 fans into little Jarry Park over the most recent 13 home dates. The crowds put the year's attendance just short of one million with the Expos still scheduled for 25 more games at home. If record-shattering summer temperatures continue to help the improved team draw Habitants, the Expos could surpass 1,500,000 for the season.
PITT 64-50 NY 59-52 CHI 58-56 ST. L 53-60 PHIL 52-60 MONT 49-66
Cincinnati has yet to hold a clubhouse meeting this season, and Manager Sparky Anderson was not about to change that when the Reds showed up in LOS ANGELES last week for a series with the Dodgers, who hoped for a sweep to climb back into contention. "You just let them play. They have the talent," says the low-key Anderson. The unbriefed Reds promptly went out and killed off the Dodgers with two straight victories. Lee May's bases-loaded double in the eighth inning, capping a rally that began when Bobby Tolan saw nine pitches before stroking a single, won the opener. "Tolan was my undoing," said Dodgers' starter Joe Moeller, who had held the Reds to one run through seven innings. "He fouled off so many pitches that it seemed like he was up there an hour. That takes a lot out of you. I threw 40 pitches in the inning, and most of them were to Tolan. I believe at one point I gave him three fastballs, then a slider, then three more fastballs. Then he singled to right field." Tony Perez, who had been in a slump since the All-Star Game, came alive with two home runs and six RBIs in the Reds' 10-5 triumph the next evening. SAN FRANCISCO moved up to third place as Willie McCovey smashed three home runs and Juan Marichal pitched his third consecutive complete-game victory. Sweetest of all for Giant fans and Manager Charlie Fox, who replaced the fired Clyde King early in the season, their team won four games in a row over the Reds and Dodgers. After the ministreak, Giant Owner Horace Stoneham announced that Fox had been hired through the 1971 season. Stoneham claimed that the winning string had nothing to do with his decision and added, "Fox has shown us that he can make a club work together. Our pitching has improved, and we're playing as well as any other team in the majors." "I'd been in my hotel room all day shivering and sweating," said ATLANTA'S Ron Reed. It turned out that HOUSTON should have been the one with the shakes. Even bugged by a severe cold, Reed was sharp enough to pitch a 3-1 win over the Astros for his first complete game this year. Clay Kirby pitched two of SAN DIEGO'S three victories but was still complaining because he lost shutouts in the late innings of both starts. "I guess I'll never get one," said Kirby, who is only 22 years old.
CINC 77-39 LA 63-49 SF 55-57 ATL 54-59 HOUS 51-63 SD 45-69
The Pressure should be off in BALTIMORE, now that the Orioles lead by 9½ games, but apparently the management agrees with Top Value that there are other ways to prod a runner. In front of 16,680 fans Pitcher Jim Palmer was offered 100,000 trading stamps last week if he pitched a no-hitter. Palmer had just set the Red Sox down in order in the first inning when he heard over the PA, "For a no-hitter, the pitcher will receive 100,000 stamps." "I was thinking about it," said Palmer after the game. "Not for myself, for my wife. She's the mercenary member of the family. Then, when Reggie Smith got a hit in the fourth, I wondered if they had anything for a shutout." They did, and Palmer raked in 30,000 stamps, 25,000 for his 3-0 victory and 5,000 for hitting a single. NEW YORK and DETROIT battled for second place and the Yankees won the three-game series by a smudge, or, more accurately, reworking of the old shoe-polish play. With the score tied 1-1 in the deciding third game, Tiger Pitcher Les Cain bounced a curveball past his catcher, Bill Freehan, and the Yanks' Roy White scored the winning run from third. No, argued Freehan, taking what is usually the batting team's side of the argument. Freehan pointed to shoe polish on the ball and contended that the batter had been hit and should be awarded first and that White should be returned to third. Umpire Marty Springstead did not take a shine to Freehan's exquisite logic, deciding that what polish had rubbed off on the ball had started the day on Freehan's shoes. He allowed the run to stand. BOSTON, where the Red Sox were still little better than .500, was buzzing with trade rumors which claimed that even home-grown hero Tony Conigliaro would be sent elsewhere. CLEVELAND'S young Indians closed in to challenge the Red Sox for fourth with a big boost from old hand Chuck Hinton. His two-run, ninth-inning pinch homer beat his old team WASHINGTON 4-2 and brought the Indians within a game of fourth.
BALT 71-42 NY 61-51 DET 60-52 BOS 55-54 CLEV 56-58 WASH 51-62
"I feel comfortable but never secure," said MINNESOTA Manager Bill Rigney as his team took three close games against its top challengers, CALIFORNIA and OAKLAND, to open a nine-game lead. George Mitterwald won the first game 2-1 with a 14th-inning homer, and Jim Holt backed Jim Perry, who went all the way, with an 11th-inning clout for another 2-1 win. It was Perry's 17th victory. The next day Rich Reese hit a two-run home run to give Luis Tiant his first win since May. The score was 3-1. While the Athletics stopped hitting—they went seven consecutive games without getting more than six hits in any one of them—some of the Angels stopped talking to each other. At least, that was the case in relations between Manager Lefty Phillips and sore-armed starter Andy Messersmith. Messersmith, who returned to the major leagues after a 10-day stop in the minors, pitched seven innings, allowing no runs and only five hits in his first start and then left the game. "We aren't communicating," explained Phillips afterward. "I didn't take him out of the game. I heard him say, 'that's all,' and get up and go into the clubhouse." While the Twins were settling into their life of insecure comfort at the top of the division, KANSAS CITY, CHICAGO and MILWAUKEE were secure in the knowledge that they owned the cellar. The Brewers, who began the week in a tie for fourth place, came out the decided losers. Dropping four of five games to the Royals and White Sox, they momentarily fell to sixth place and ran their record against the coexpansionist Royals to 2-9 for the year. KC's rookie shortstop, Rich Severson, provided most of the hitting as his team defeated the Brewers in both halves of a doubleheader. With two men on base in the first game, he crashed his first major league home run to give the Royals' Bob Johnson all the batting help he needed for a shutout victory. In the second game Severson went four for four and the Royals won 10-2. The White Sox, briefly, moved for a pleasant interlude up from the basement to fifth place by winning four games in a week for only the second time this year. Tommy John picked up the first Sox win with a 2-1 complete game victory. John, who had a 5-12 won-lost record at one point last month, improved his mark to 10-13 with the help of Syd O'Brien's home run.
MINN 69-40 CAL 64-49 OAK 63-50 KC 42-71 MIL 42-73 CHI 42-74