The base running of Mike Marshall and the slugging of Davey Lopes were improbable boosts for Los Angeles. It was unsurprising that Marshall hurled six scoreless innings of relief against Chicago, but it was startling when he scored the winning run in the 12th by galloping home from second base on an infield out. The next day Lopes, who had hit only three homers all season, unloaded three in an 18-8 romp over the Cubs and barely missed a fourth when he doubled high off the wall. Then Lopes climaxed a 4-2 week for the Dodgers with another extraordinary performance. He equaled a 70-year-old league record by stealing five bases to help Don Sutton defeat the Cardinals 3-0. Lopes was out trying for a sixth.
Cincinnati maintained its relentless pursuit of the Dodgers by winning five of six games. Joe Morgan drove in seven runs in one game, and Johnny Bench four in another. For Bench, who had eight RBIs for the week, it was the continuation of a prolonged batting surge during which he has driven across 48 runs in 44 contests.
Atlanta topped off a 6-1 week by sweeping three games from New York, including its first doubleheader triumph since July 1972. Darrell Evans had four homers, Henry Aaron batted .381 and Tom House yielded just one run in 11 ‚Öì innings of relief.
Houston, 5-1, received superb pitching from Larry Dierker, who baffled the Phillies 1-0, and Dave Roberts, who also stopped Philadelphia 1-0 and added another shutout against Montreal.
San Francisco, 2-4, and San Diego, 1-4, were the West's only losers. The Giants, who have done a lot of backward things this year, defeated the Pirates 8-7 with the aid of Mike Caldwell, who had retired to the clubhouse before pitching. And there he was as his teammates rallied for five ninth-inning runs. He wandered out again and volunteered to pitch—and went back to the clubhouse a few minutes later with his 12th win after the Giants scored the deciding run in the 10th. Willie McCovey's third homer in as many games gave Dave Freisleben of the Padres a 3-0 win over the Expos.
LA 79-47 CIN 77-50 ATL 70-56 HOUS 65-60 SF 56-71 SD 49-77
The low point of a dismal 2-4 week for St. Louis was an 11-6 loss to Atlanta in which the Cardinals squandered a 5-0 lead. The Cards could not fault Lou Brock as they allowed their lead to shrink to one game. He stole six bases to bring his season total to 88 and beat Dodger Mike Marshall 2-1 with a ninth-inning hit.
Pittsburgh, 3-2, was the only team in the division with a winning record. Richie Zisk batted .550, Rennie Stennett averaged .458 and Dock Ellis stopped the Giants 4-2 for his seventh straight win.
Philadelphia and Montreal were both 2-4. Phillie Mike Schmidt smashed four homers to tie Dick Allen of the White Sox for the major league lead at 32. Ron Hunt, angered because the Padres had intentionally walked Ken Singleton to pitch to him, singled in the winning run of an 8-7 Expo victory.
For New York Manager Yogi Berra it was a frustrating week in which his stratagems backfired. Four intentional walks he ordered were immediately followed by disaster: Dave Concepcion hit a three-run homer for a 6-5 Red win; Milt May singled in the 11th for a 2-1 Astro victory; Mike Lum singled in the 10th for a 4-3 Brave triumph; and with the score tied at 3-all in the 10th in another game with Atlanta, Berra had Lum walked to load the bases. Bob Miller promptly fouled up that tactic by walking Norm Miller to force in the deciding score.
Chicago split six games, beating San Diego 14-6, using five pitchers to hold off San Francisco 2-1 and downing the Giants 1-0 behind Rick Reuschel.
ST. L 66-61 PITT 64-61 PHIL 63-63 MONT 58-65 NY 53-70 CHI 52-71
"This is the real draggy time of the season," said Oakland Manager Alvin Dark. Feeling some of his A's did not give 100% on the field after sipping 100-proof in the sky, he banned hard liquor on team flights. It was a decision that left some A's up in the air. Dark hoped his edict would create a thirst for winning, but his A's merely split six games.
Kansas City, which trailed Oakland by 8½ at the end of July, reduced the deficit to four games with a 4-3 week. Apparently, what turned the Royals around was a group faultfinding session. "It got heated at times, but it cleared the air," one Royal revealed last week. There was little fault to find with the pitching of Steve Busby, who won for the 19th time, or Al Fitzmorris, who blanked Cleveland 2-0 with help from Lindy McDaniel and then went all the way to top Milwaukee 4-0.
Former National Leaguers Ferguson Jenkins and Jim Bibby became 18-game winners for Texas with home-run support from Toby Harrah and Jeff Burroughs, who now has 104 RBIs.
"That togetherness, that thing we had going, just isn't there anymore," said Dick Allen during a 2-4 week for Chicago. Larry Hisle grand-slammed Baltimore 9-5, but Minnesota lost four of six.
California's Nolan Ryan was at it again, striking out 19 Detroit batters before losing 1-0 in the 11th. That gave him another record—a three-game total of 47 whiffs. Said Ryan, who will not be 28 until January, "Within the next year or two I should reach maturity."
OAK 72-55 KC 67-58 TEX 66-62 CHI 62-64 MINN 61-66 CAL 50-77
Commenting on his team's paltry home-run output, Boston Manager Darrel Johnson said, "Denting home plate is all that counts. I don't give a Fig Newton how we do it." For the rest of the division, that was the way the cookie—and the pennant race—crumbled as the Red Sox pecked away for five wins in six tries and widened their lead from 3½ games to six. Rogelio Moret one-hit Chicago 4-0, and Luis Tiant, despite a backache from moving furniture into his new house, won twice. His second victory, a 3-0 conquest of Oakland, made him the majors' first 20-game winner. Helping him to that triumph was Tommy Harper, who slugged the first Red Sox homer in 12 games.
Groping for levity and team unity, Baltimore resurrected its Kangaroo Kourt of a few seasons ago, levying fines for such misdemeanors as carrying a candy bar and wearing a Chicago Cub T shirt. Dave McNally added to the hilarity by winning two games, but there was little else to smile about as the Orioles lost three of their other four contests.
In last place as recently as July 15, New York moved up to second with five wins in six games. Pat Dobson got two of the victories, and Doc Medich earned his 15th win of the year.
Both Cleveland and Detroit were 1-5, but the Tigers still felt it was a good week after they survived a white-knuckle emergency landing when their plane nearly ran out of fuel en route to California.
Milwaukee's 4-3 week included a pair of 1-0 triumphs, the first coming on Billy Champion's five-hit pitching against Oakland, the other when John Briggs tripled home a run in the 13th inning against Kansas City.
BOS 70-55 NY 64-61 BALT 63-62 CLEV 61-61 MIL 61-66 DET 58-68