When the Phillies' bus left half an hour ahead of schedule for a game with the Dodgers, Jim Lonborg, who was to be the starting pitcher, had to hitch a ride with Sportscaster By Saam. Visibly shaken when he got to the park, Lonborg said, "Out of a possible 10 rating for potential accidents, Saam had two eights." Then Lonborg shook up the Dodgers with a two-hit, 5-1 victory. Earlier he had befuddled them 4-2 on six hits to start a 4-3 week for Philadelphia. Lonborg, who is 6-3 and has a 1.92 ERA, could not conceal his satisfaction: "To say beforehand that so-and-so can be gotten out on a fastball in, a slider away, then a fastball away, and then to go out and do it with precisely those three pitches, well, that is one of the most invigorating feelings a man can have."
Eight homers and some neat pitching kept Pittsburgh (5-3) on top of the East. Jerry Reuss won twice, and Dock Ellis, pitching for the first time since straining his shoulder three weeks earlier, held off Houston 4-2. Sam McDowell came out of the bullpen to make a rare start and beat the Reds 9-5.
In successive games the Mets beat the Giants 5-0 behind Tom Seaver, edged the Dodgers 2-1 and 2-0 as Bob Apodaca excelled in relief and Jon Matlack tossed a three-hitter and then trimmed the Padres 7-2. That last win went to George Stone, pitching for the first time since a bad shoulder put him out of commission last July. It was a week in which the Mets (5-2) could do little wrong as they took second place.
St. Louis (3-3) got two wins from Ron Reed, his second and third in two weeks since being picked up from Atlanta. For Chicago (1-5) the only respite came when Bill Madlock and Jerry Morales doubled in the 10th to finish off Houston 4-3.
Giving Montreal (5-3) a lift were old hands Bob Bailey (a .389 average), Steve Renko (his first victory since last September) and Woodie Fryman (a four-hit, 3-1 job over the Giants). But Dave McNally hung up his spikes after his sixth loss in a row. Four times a 20-game winner for Baltimore, the 33-year-old lefthander had a career record of 184 victories, 119 losses.
PITT 32-23 NY 30-24 PHIL 31-27 CHI 29-28 ST.L 27-28 MONT 21-30
Inspired by the pitching of Randy Jones and the tootling of The Tuba Man, San Diego split eight games and clung to fourth place. Jones brought his record to 9-3 with wins over the Phillies (8-3) and Mets (7-1). That first win came at the start of a home stand that coincided with the return of Marine Lieut. Jim Eakle, the man with the hoarse horn. Eakle, a rabid Padre fan, flew in from his post on Guam on a two-week leave.
Marching to a heartier tune, the Reds drummed out 94 hits, scored 59 runs and batted .324 as a team. Late in the week they waltzed past St. Louis 10-1 and Chicago 18-11 and, in a game suspended after eight innings because of darkness, led the Cubs 11-3. Good pitching abounded, too. Don Gullett beat the Cardinals 3-1 to bring his record up to 8-3 and his ERA down to 2.10. And Gary Nolan yielded just one run as he won twice. He has six victories in a row, a 7-3 record and a 2.39 ERA. All of which made the Reds the only Western team with a winning record (5-2) during a week of interdivisional play.
For the Dodgers (2-5) the week was a bummer. Mike Marshall was no relief: an errant pick-off throw enabled Montreal to score the decisive run in a 5-4 game and he unloosed a wild pitch that led to a 2-1 loss against New York. Offensively, the Dodgers batted a paltry .179 and had just six extra-base hits. Pitcher Al Downing may have been correct when he blamed the batting slump on the East's "super pitching." Against Western teams the Dodgers are 19-10, against the East, 16-18.
Infielder Ed Goodson of the Giants came up with a resounding smash of sorts when he used his bat to splatter a kumquat in the clubhouse. Ostensibly, he was angry because his request to be traded had not been honored. Soon thereafter it was, Goodson going to the Braves for Shortstop Craig Robinson. Amid such goings-on, and rumors that the team might be sold to a group from Japan, the Giants were 4-4.
Houston attendance seems likely to dip below one million for the first time since the club moved into the Astrodome in 1965. But at least Houston snapped a nine-game losing streak and had a 3-4 week. And the Astros finished with a flourish, getting a three-hitter from Tom Griffin in a 9-0 romp past the Cardinals.
John (Blue Moon) Odom, freshly acquired by Atlanta from Cleveland, was battered in his first two starts. The best the Braves could do was to down the Cubs 5-4.
CIN 37-24 LA 35-28 SF 29-30 SD 29-31 ATL 26-34 HOUS 23-42
Henry Aaron of the Brewers had insisted all season that he was not going through a slump, merely a "learning process." Last week he gave evidence he had learned well, rapping out seven hits in his last 11 at bats. One hit was a homer—Aaron's first in a regulation game in Milwaukee since 1965—that helped beat Vida Blue and the A's 9-7. Another was homer No. 740 and it came off Nolan Ryan in a 6-4 win. Darrell Porter drove in all four runs in a 4-3 win over the Angels and beat the White Sox 1-0 with a homer during the Brewers' 5-2 week.
Boston's Bernie Carbo hit home runs nine through 12, but the pitching was erratic as the Red Sox lost five of eight. However, Fred Lynn extended his hitting streak to 19 games and hit his 10th and 11th homers. And Carl Yastrzemski, despite cutting his thumb with a knife while scraping tar off his bat, slugged a two-run homer in the 14th to put down the White Sox 9-7.
New York temporarily lost its entire frontline outfield of Roy White, Elliott Maddox and Bobby Bonds because of leg injuries but won four of six anyway. Rudy May stopped the Twins 5-1 for his fifth straight triumph, which caused Manager Bill Virdon, who seldom uses superlatives, to say, "His stuff is better than any lefthander I've seen."
Baltimore (4-3) fought its way out of last place on some fine pitching. Jim Palmer beat the Royals 1-0 with a one-hitter and subdued the Rangers 7-1. Minnesota was the only club in the majors not to have been shut out until the Orioles' Ross Grimsley turned the trick 7-0.
With Detroit Catchers Bill Freehan and Terry Humphrey ailing, John Wockenfuss, up from the minors, hit two home runs. Willie Horton unloaded Nos. 14 and 15, and John Hiller picked up his eighth and ninth saves with 6‚Öì innings of scoreless relief. Despite all that, the Tigers lost six of eight. Worse yet was Cleveland (1-7), which sent one of the big names in the game, Gaylord Perry, to the Rangers for Pitchers Jim Bibby, Jackie Brown and Rick Waits.
BOS 31-24 NY 31-26 MIL 28-28 DET 25-30 BALT 25-31 CLEV 23-34
Marty (Duck) Pattin of the Royals did not mind that it rained throughout his 4-3 win over the Tigers. "I'm built close to the ground and my little webbed feet don't slip in the mud," Pattin said. Lindy McDaniel saved that game for Pattin one day after pitching five scoreless innings to beat Detroit 5-2.
"A wealthy ghetto" was Reggie Jackson's description of Oakland's three highest-paid players: Billy Williams, Sal Bando and himself, all batting below .240. It was pitching that kept the A's (5-2) going. Ken Holtzman beat Detroit 4-0, coming within one out of a no-hitter before Tom Veryzer doubled. Two days later Jim Perry stopped Baltimore 3-0 with another one-hitter.
Minnesota's Danny Thompson and Dan Ford, who batted out of turn four times each before correcting themselves, produced four runs in an 11-10, 11-inning win over Cleveland. Eric Soderholm argued in vain that a pitched ball had not hit his bat for a strike and then, two pitches later, helped beat the Orioles 7-3 with a three-run homer.
Texas walloped 13 home runs, four by Jeff Burroughs, who tied for the major league lead with 15. Also contributing to a 5-3 week was Ferguson Jenkins, a 2-1 winner over the Indians.
Wilbur Wood of Chicago (3-4) finally got his knuckleball under control and doubled his win total by stopping Milwaukee 9-2 and New York 7-2. California (3-5) got its first grand slam in four years when Lee Stanton connected in a 14-7 bombing of Detroit.
OAK 35-24 KC 35-27 TEX 30-29 MINN 27-27 CAL 30-32 CHI 25-33