Mr. and Mrs. Juan Marichal's and Mr. and Mrs. Tito Fuentes' regular poker game last week was spiced with some untypical baseball talk. It used to be that baseball was a subject to be avoided, first when Marichal was a 20-game winner and Fuentes a struggling bit player and, more recently, when Fuentes was going well but Marichal was not winning. That all changed when Juan and Tito joined to win one for SAN FRANCISCO. Marichal shut out the Expos on two hits for his first victory since June 23 and Fuentes drove in the game's only run with a bases-loaded, ninth-inning single. The return to form of Marichal and Gaylord Perry, who has pitched complete-game wins in his last two starts, may be just what the Giants need to hold off LOS ANGELES, enjoying a pitching boost of its own. Bill Singer, looking less injured each outing, tossed his second straight complete game, a 6-1 win over the Phils, and 20-year-old Doyle Alexander was even more effective the next night when he threw a four-hitter. Alexander is merely a spot starter for the Dodgers, but he has given that term a new meaning in L.A. "He's the pitcher we use when we're on the spot and need a win," explains Pitching Coach Red Adams. Even with Rico Carty back on the disabled list with blood clots in his leg, Ralph Garr nursing a sore heel, Felix Millan missing games with an injured hand, Zoilo Versalles with an injured leg and Orlando Cepeda undergoing surgery, ATLANTA still won four of six as Henry Aaron extended his batting streak to 22 games and Rookie of the Year candidate Earl Williams hit four homers and drove in nine runs. HOUSTON'S fast-finishing Don Wilson, who has lost only once since the All-Star break, gained his fifth straight win 8-2 over the Braves, and CINCINNATI'S young ace Don Gullett picked up his 13th triumph by the same score over the Cubs. The management in SAN DIEGO, which has the worst attendance in the majors (401,573), has stopped putting on a false happy face. "We have to be worried," said General Manager Ed Leishman after only 10,828 persons came to watch the Padres' Dave Roberts and the Mets' Tom Seaver battle for the league ERA lead—a game the Padres won 1-0 in 12 innings. "We just can't ignore the situation anymore. The last few days have been the most disappointing in our three years here." The real question is whether Leishman can ignore offers from places like Dallas, which has been trying to lure the Padres away from Southern California.
SF 72-51 LA 65-56 ATL 64-60 HOUS 60-60 CIN 57-65 SD 46-77
"Did you see any of the game?" PITTSBURGH'S Bob Robertson asked clubhouse man John Hallahan. "Didn't see a pitch," Hallahan answered. "Neither did we," said Robertson, who had been on the field for all the action, or what action Bob Gibson of ST. LOUIS allowed. He threw the first no-hitter of his life and the Pirates looked like they were wearing blinders. It was the first no-hitter against the Bucs since 1955 and the first thrown in Pittsburgh since 1907. For the reeling division leaders it could not have come at a worse time; it was their 14th loss in their last 20 games and brought the Cards to within five games of first place. Even though Catcher Ted Simmons told a teammate at dinner two nights before, "I gotta hunch Gibby's gonna throw a no-hitter," Gibson was especially surprised. "I never thought I'd throw a no-hitter because I'm a high-ball pitcher," he said. "There are many more high-ball hitters than low-ball hitters." CHICAGO continued its drive to challenge for the lead on the pitching of two revived veterans. Juan Pizarro, who has won four of six games since making it back from the minors, defeated the Pirates 2-1 with a five-hitter and Milt Pappas won his 14th game of the season 3-1 over the Reds. Pizarro's return has been particularly timely for the Cubs, whose relief pitching has been inconsistent and whose pinch hitting has been invisible. Not one in 10 pinch hitters succeeded this year. In fact, all but two of the starting pitchers hit for a better average, which is one reason why Leo Durocher has tended to stay with his starters. In winning three of his last four starts Pizarro has pitched complete games each time. "He looks like he's sweating to death out there. He sweats more than anyone I've ever seen," says Ron Santo of Pizarro. "And yet he has something in reserve. He's got great endurance." Endurance is something NEW YORK pitchers, with the exception of Tom Seaver, need. They can't count on their batters to help them; twice the Mets were shut out by the Padres. Four of MONTREAL'S games were shutouts; two losses by one and two runs, two wins by three and five runs pitched by Steve Renko over the Giants and Bill Stoneman over the Dodgers. Don Money's 13th-inning, two-run double against L.A. and Deron Johnson's two-run homer against San Diego gave PHILADELPHIA two come-from-behind victories.
PITT 71-50 ST. L 67-54 CHI 64-54 NY 58-60 PHIL 53-67 MONT 48-71
The bright prospects in the KANSAS CITY organization are not all down on the farm. With seven wins in their last eight games the Royals regained a seven-game hold on second place. The pitching staff, led by starter Dick Drago whose two wins included a 5-0 victory over the Red Sox, and Reliever Jim York, who struck out 19 batters in his last 12 innings, allowed only eight runs over a 70-inning span for a 1.03 ERA. And the Royal infield was nothing short of regal in two games against the Red Sox, turning seven double plays as K.C. improved its record for the year against the Sox to 7-0. Even with all those victories the Royals still lost ground to OAKLAND. Stretching their lead to 14 games, the A's won seven in a row, including Vida Blue's 21st and 22nd triumphs of the season. His latter victory came on Blue Day at Yankee Stadium, where 126 persons named Blue were allowed in free. The Yanks' management happily gave away those seats because Blue's appearance drew 45,000 fans, 29,000 more than had showed up the day before to watch the two teams play. Blue is the league's top draw on the road, but the Athletics arc easily the most unwelcome visitors in the majors. So far this year they have won 47 of 65 road games and, according to Manager Dick Williams, would just as soon never play at home. At the close of the team's most recent home stand when the bleachers were sparsely filled, Williams said, "It will be a pleasure to get out of town. On the road they appreciate us." Harmon Killebrew hit three home runs for MINNESOTA, one of them his long-awaited 500th. The Killer, who still has only 15 homers for the year, had slugged just one since June 22, a record for unproductivity matched by the Twins' bullpen. Stan Williams finally got a save. It was the first by a Twins' reliever since June 30. No one seems interested in saving anything in CALIFORNIA, where reserve Catchers Jerry Moses and Jeff Torborg were the latest players to rap the management. "There is a lot more wrong with this club than the Johnson and Conigliaro cases," said Moses. "It's poorly run from top to bottom. Lefty Phillips tears down a player's confidence rather than building it up." "I have no respect for the Angels' uniform," added Torborg. These latest zingers brought out the stoic best in Manager Phillips, who said, "We're not exactly talking about Gabby Hartnett and Elston Howard. All of this isn't worth commenting on." MILWAUKEE and CHICAGO broke four-game losing streaks with tight pitching. Rookie Jim Slaton, now 8-4 for the last place Brewers, defeated the Indians 9-1, and Tom Bradley and Bart Johnson of the Sox combined to shut out the Orioles.
OAK 78-42 KC 63-55 CHI 57-63 CAL 56-66 MINN 53-65 MIL 53-67
It was DETROIT Reliever Bill Denehy who stung BOSTON'S Reggie Smith with a pitched ball, but the man who came away feeling sore was Tiger Manager Billy Martin. After the game, which the Tigers lost 12-11, Martin encountered Smith at Fenway Park. Calmly putting down his pipe and his Western novel, Martin asked the Red Sox outfielder, "You looking for me?" "What's your problem?" Smith replied. "You're the one with the problem," said Martin. "Your mouth." At that, Smith, who is 17 years younger and about 20 pounds heavier, reportedly made a move at Martin, only to be halted by police, who were obviously aware of Martin's unblemished record in his previous bouts. "Do us a favor and don't hit him, Bill," the cops pleaded. Martin pulled his punches until later, when he said, "He'd have been a sucker for a right." While the Tigers and Sox battled for second BALTIMORE opened a nine-game lead, its longest of the season. The Orioles looked stronger than at any time this year with Jim Palmer pitching his second consecutive four-hit victory and lefty Dave McNally off the disabled list. Although still bothered slightly by the sore elbow that kept him inactive for a month, McNally allowed only three hits in the six innings he pitched in his first start. NEW YORK failed to hit a home run all week, as did WASHINGTON, which averaged a mere 4.5 hits a game. In CLEVELAND the Indians were worried about homers of another sort. It is rumored that the Tribe will play part of its home schedule in New Orleans in 1974, and the players are threatening to take the issue to their lawyer. "We'd be on the road almost all year," complained Outfielder Ted Uhlaender. "What will be our home park? Where will we settle our families? What will Cleveland fans think of all this?"
BALT 71-44 DET 65-54 BOST 64-56 NY 60-61 WASH 49-70 CLEV 48-72