Chicago knuckleballer Wilbur Wood defeated New York 5-4 on Wednesday and hoped to start both games of a doubleheader against Boston on Sunday, but Wood went out after seven innings of the opener (he lost 5-1) and never came back. The division's top two teams, meanwhile, were having their troubles. OAKLAND lost four in a row, its longest slump of the season, but Chuck Dobson's five-hitter finally beat Cleveland 9-1. One of the Athletics' losers was Vida Blue, who was looking for his 20th win but found his fourth defeat instead, 4-1 against the Indians. Faltering, too, was KANSAS CITY, with five consecutive one-run losses. For Manager Bob Lemon, the most galling was a 1-0, 4½-inning rainout job against Baltimore. "The Orioles," said Lemon, who is back on ulcer medicine, "have the best team and worst ground crew in baseball." The clouds in CALIFORNIA seemed to be parting. The Angels have the division's best record since the All-Star break, 10-7, thanks in part to veteran reliever Eddie Fisher. Fisher won his ninth in 13 decisions by going the final 4‚Öî innings against the Indians for a 7-2 win. Bullpen help is just what the MINNESOTA Twins need most. In one game they blew an eight-run lead, but the next day Bert Blyleven went all the way to post a 5-4 victory, his first since June 15. Milwaukee pitchers stopped Boston cold. Bill Parsons' five-hitter beat the Red Sox 5-1, Jim Slaton shut them out on three hits 5-0 and Marty Pattin threw a four-hitter to win 3-0.
OAK 66-39 KC 52-50 CAL 52-57 CHI 49-57 MINN 48-56 MIL 45-60
Pat Dobson pitched consecutive four-and five-hit shutouts to beat Oakland 1-0 and Kansas City 4-0, but the biggest news in Baltimore was bungling Brooks Robinson. The perennial Goid Glover made three errors in one inning against the Athletics to let in two unearned runs. Had it ever happened before? "Not in one game, much less one inning." admitted Brooks, who was bailed out when Frank Robinson hit a ninth-inning homer to win 3-2. The night before Brooks had won one in the ninth, 6-4, and both homers came off Rollie Fingers. With Carl Yastrzemski benched for the second time this year, BOSTON ended a four-game losing streak by beating Chicago 6-0. Jim Lonborg won it with a three-hitter. Yaz, 4 for 36 when he left the lineup, "is trying to do everything by himself," according to Manager Eddie Kasko. The night Billy Martin got his stolen hand-carved $150 Danish pipe back, DETROIT started smoking. The Tigers won four straight one-run games with rallies in the 11th inning, the ninth inning (twice) and the eighth inning. The fire went out when California beat Mickey Lolich 3-2 in 12 innings, NEW YORK entered the week in a rush after reaching the .500 mark but then lost five of six. The only win came in a wild game against Minnesota. After trailing 9-1 through five innings, the Yankees won 11-9. There was a heap of turmoil in CLEVELAND, where Indian Manager Alvin Dark was replaced by Coach Johnny Lipon, and star Pitcher Sam McDowell was suspended. McDowell, who did not show up for Friday's and Saturday's games, claims he has a contract loophole that makes him a free agent. With a plethora of starters, WASHINGTON (page 20) opened a 1½-game lead over the cellar-dwelling Indians.
BALT 65-38 BOST 61-45 DET 56-49 NY 52-56 WASH 43-61 CLEV 43-64
San Francisco played its final regular-season series against Pittsburgh last week, and the four-game sweep at home meant a 9-3 advantage for the year in the battle of divisional leaders. A seven-run seventh inning highlighted the second of the Giant victories, a 15-11 hitathon in which Pirate Willie Stargell hit two home runs, LOS ANGELES was holding on to second place, thanks to three wins over the Reds. Don Sutton ended his four-game losing streak as Richie Allen hit his 16th home run in one victory and Al Downing advanced his record to 13-6 with eight innings of three-hit pitching in the other. Charging ATLANTA has now won 10 of its last 13 and 21 of 30. A 4-2 win over the Giants was spotlighted by two home runs from singles-hitter Zoilo Versalles. HOUSTON continued its season-long crush on mediocrity, and General Manager Spec Richardson fumed. "We've got a better ball club than we're showing," he said as the Astros continued their gentlemanly .500 pace. Where that left Manager Harry Walker is uncertain, since the Hat's contract is up for renewal at the end of the season. CINCINNATI Manager Sparky Anderson thought he had at least one of his problems figured out. "I should have been playing him all year," he said after Centerfielder Hal McRae had a 5 for 5 performance in an 11-3 rout of San Diego. McRae immediately went 0 for 17 as the Reds dropped their next five. SAN DIEGO'S Dave Roberts beat Cincinnati 5-1 on a five-hitter, lowering his league-leading earned-run average to 2.15 and causing Anderson to go out on another limb and say, "He's the best we faced all season."
SF 67-43 LA 57-51 ATL 57-54 HOUS 54-53 CIN 49-61 SD 39-70
Pittsburgh has been doing poorly of late and the leak seems to be in the bullpen, which has featured a 7.26 ERA since the All-Star break. Of 67 hits in 53½ innings off the relievers, nine have been homers and three of those grand slams. ST. LOUIS moved into second place for the first time since June 9 when it took three of four from New York. Bob Gibson's third straight win, a six-hitter against the Phillies, finally brought his record up to .500 at 9-9. Ferguson Jenkins won his 17th for CHICAGO by beating Montreal 10-2. "The only difference between me and Bob Gibson," he started to say—and Glenn Beckert interrupted, completing the sentence with: "Is about a foot of fastball." Jenkins had intended to finish with, "about $70,000 a year." NEW YORK concluded a disastrous July, in which the Mets lost 20 of 29 games, by taking a pair from the Cubs. In an Old Timers contest at Shea Stadium, Bobby Thomson, the former Giant outfielder, was on the mound against Ralph Branca, the former Dodger pitcher. In the reverse roles, Branca hit a fly ball to center field that may well have outdistanced Thomson's famous Chinese home run which decided the 1951 pennant. PHILADELPHIA'S power-hitting star Willie Montanez failed to run out a ground ball last week against St. Louis, and, before his batting helmet stopped spinning in front of the dugout, Manager Frank Lucchesi had sent Byron Browne to take his place in center field. Ron Hunt of MONTREAL was struck by a pitch for the 31st time this year, tying the "modern" major league record and keying a 6-4 win over Houston.
PITT 67-41 ST. L 58-49 CHI 56-49 NY 54-50 PHIL 46-61 MONT 43-65