"I'm tired" said Mike Marshall, the last man one might expect to admit to such human frailty. But he was not too tired to appear in six games, increasing his record total to 105, and had two wins and one save. Andy Messersmith needed relief help from Marshall to become the league's first 20-game winner as the Dodgers, 5-2, clinched a tie for first place. Third Baseman Ron Cey finished off the Braves 5-2 with a 10th-inning double and Leftfielder Bill Buckner did even better in a 4-3 win over Atlanta by getting four hits and robbing Dusty Baker of a two-run homer with an over-the-fence catch.
"I believe in miracles," said Dave Concepcion of the Reds. Failing that, Cincinnati got .600 hitting from Concepcion and won five in a row after a loss to the Giants. However, Cincinnati's two best starters were below par. Don Gullett had a bad back and Jack Billingham admitted he had "nothing" on the ball after yielding a total of 21 hits and 16 runs in six innings in his last three games.
Phil Niekro of Atlanta lost to L.A. 2-1 on a 10th-inning passed ball, then earned his 19th win, over Houston, by holding the Astros hitless for the final seven innings. In that game Henry Aaron had three hits, one his 600th double.
Houston, 2-4, San Francisco, 1-4, and San Diego, 3-3, had poor to so-so weeks. All three Padre wins were by identical scores of 3-2, but sandwiched in among them was the club's 100th loss.
LA 100-59 CIN 97-62 ATL 86-73 HOUS 79-79 SF 71-88 SD 59-101
The proverb about sleeping dogs, or other fanged animals, was not heeded by the Cardinals, who were to regret arousing the usually somnolent Cubs. During a melee at home plate St. Louis Catcher Ted Simmons slugged Bill Madlock of Chicago. That upset the Cubs, who were further angered because Simmons was not ejected—and later got the game-winning hit. Five days after that incident the awakened Cubs overcame a 3-0 deficit and beat the Cardinals 8-3, the most telling blow a three-run triple by Madlock. The setback knocked St. Louis from first place, putting the Cards a full game in back of revitalized Pittsburgh.
The Pirates won the first of three games in St. Louis 1-0 on a 10th-inning hit by Richie Hebner and the pitching of Jim Rooker and Dave Giusti; they took a half-game lead over the Cardinals by dumping them again, 7-3; then were bumped back to second as St. Louis scored four times in the 11th to prevail 13-12. Pittsburgh moved into a tic for first by drubbing the Mets 11-5 and the next day both leaders won, Bob Gibson driving in four runs as the Cardinals defeated Chicago 10-4 and Jerry Reuss of Pittsburgh nipping New York 2-1. But while the Cardinals were jolted by the Cubs on Saturday, the Pirates won again, 7-3, behind Rooker, who has a 1.63 ERA and seven victories since Aug. 25.
Montreal, 6-2, pulled to within one game of third-place Philadelphia, 4-3. Two-time winner Mike Torrez became the first Expo starting pitcher ever to take six in a row. While winning three of four from the Cubs, the Expos stole 16 bases, with Larry Lintz nabbing six to raise his total to 50, an impressive figure for one who has just 76 hits all season. For the Phillies, Jim Lonborg and Steve Carlton both got their 16th wins.
PITT 85-73 ST.L 84-74 PHIL 78-80 MONT 77-81 NY 69-89 CHI 66-92
Oakland Clinched its fourth straight divisional title, but was upstaged by California's Nolan Ryan. "I think I'll let it all hang out," Ryan said before facing the Twins. He did precisely that, striking out 15, walking eight and hurling his third no-hitter in two years. Score: 4-0. Coupled with an earlier five-hit, nine-strikeout effort against the Royals, Ryan has a 22-16 record and 367 strikeouts. As for the A's, they hardly bothered to sip the champagne commemorating the clinching. Catfish Hunter won his 25th game, but Ken Holtzman, irked because Manager Alvin Dark said he would not give him another start to try for his 20th victory, said, "I plan to retire, anyhow."
Texas, 2-3, Minnesota, 2-4, and Kansas City, 2-4, all stumbled. But Ferguson Jenkins earned his 24th win for the Rangers and Jackie Brown, who began the season as the team's batting-practice pitcher, won for the 13th time as he downed the Royals 11-0. But Jim Bibby failed for the third time to win his 20th game. After defeating the Angels 6-2, the Twins managed to score only five runs in their next five games, one a 1-0 victory by Bert Blyleven over the A's. The Royals kept losing despite the 15-for-27 hitting of Third Baseman George Brett.
Jim Kaat of Chicago defeated Texas 5-1 and Oakland 3-1 to become a 20-game winner. The White Sox, 4-1, missed a chance for an all-victorious week when they were guilty of stranding 18 runners in a 6-5 loss to the A's.
OAK 89-70 TEX 82-75 MINN 81-78 CHI 78-79 KC 77-82 CAL 65-94
After becoming the 12th player in baseball history to get 3,000 hits, Al Kaline of the Tigers endured a round of ceremonious picture taking, which he ended by saying, "Let's get going. These guys [the Orioles] are fighting for a pennant and I don't want to mess them up." He should not have been so concerned about the Birds, who edged ahead in the East by winning all five of their games. They got to the top by utilizing a play Manager Earl Weaver admitted "is really not good because too many things can go wrong," then a "side-pocket shot" and finally a dinky ground ball. The first was a suicide squeeze by Andy Etchebarren that brought in the decisive run in the eighth inning as the Orioles beat the Tigers 5-4. The next night Tommy Davis, nicknamed Willie Mosconi because of his many "billiard-shot" hits, capped a three-run ninth with a two-out, off-the-end-of-the-bat single that drove in two runs. Orioles 5, Tigers 4, again. Subsequently, in the 17th inning of a scoreless game with the Brewers, Baltimore won when Bob Oliver came up with the bases loaded, took a mighty swing and hit a chopper to third base that enabled a run to score. Mike Cuellar got more conventional support in the form of 14 runs as he won his 21st and 22nd games.
Sparky Lyle sawed the legs off Bobby Murcer's clubhouse rocking chair, so Murcer went out and rocked the Indians with a homer to beat them 2-1. That win in the week's first outing kept the Yankees in first place, but the loss of a doubleheader to the Red Sox dropped them back, and they spent the rest of their time scrambling to stay in the race, which they did by beating the Red Sox 1-0 and sweeping two from the Indians. Ron Blomberg slugged three two-run homers against Cleveland, two in a 9-3 first-game triumph and another as a pinch hitter in the five-run eighth of a 9-7 nightcap win that kept the Yankees within half a game of the Birds.
Luis Tiant of Boston brought his victory total to 22, stopping New York 4-0 and Detroit 7-2.
Cleveland's Ken Aspromonte had his cake and ate it, too, celebrating his birthday and a 7-4 conquest of Milwaukee. Four days later, however, he was notified he would not be rehired as manager. That heightened speculation that either Frank Robinson or Coach Larry Doby would get the job and thus become the first black manager in the majors.
Milwaukee remained half a game behind fourth-place Cleveland as both teams split four games. Reliever Tom Buskey got his 17th and 18th saves for Cleveland.
BALT 87-71 NY 87-72 BOS 83-75 CLEV 75-83 MIL 75-84 DET 71-87