"They always figure out some way to win," said Minnesota Manager Frank Quilici, musing on the A's. In all, Oakland figured out ways to win seven games without a loss. One thing that kept the A's rolling was their ability to get maximum results from their hits, an art they demonstrated by manufacturing 18 runs on 21 hits while handing the Twins three defeats. It also helped that Bert Campaneris hit .400 and scored eight times, that Claudell Washington stole six bases and that Reggie Jackson took the league lead in homers by hitting Nos. 16, 17 and 18. Reliever Paul Lindblad, who was 4-4 last year, stretched his scoreless string to 22‚Öì innings with 8‚Öì more and brought his record to 6-0. And Dick Bosman, winless when obtained from Cleveland in late May, pitched his fourth and fifth victories.
Several other pitchers in the West who seemed headed for the scrap heap not long ago also turned in fine performances. Chicago had two such comebackers: lefthanders Claude Osteen, 35, and Jim Kaat, 36. Osteen, who had won just once this season, beat Texas 7-5 and Kansas City 5-3. Kaat won a 5-2 verdict over Texas, which left him with the best mark among the league's left-handed starters: 11 wins, 4 losses and a 2.89 ERA. Even the White Sox hitters seemed revived, notably Jorge Orta (a .500 average for the week, five doubles, seven RBIs), Carlos May (.379) and Bill Melton (seven RBIs). All that rejuvenation paid off with seven straight victories, which pulled the Sox out of the cellar for the first time in two months.
Falling into the basement were the Angels, who started the week by squeaking past the Rangers 1-0 on Ed Figueroa's two-hitter. From there on, though, it was all misery: injuries, 14 errors and six defeats. One of three straight extra-inning losses was incurred despite the masterful work of Bill Singer, who gave up only one hit in 11 innings before being yanked. Opposing Singer that night was another old hand, Texas' Steve Hargan, who was lifted in the 12th. (Cesar Tovar's single in the 13th made the Rangers 1-0 winners.) Four days later Hargan kept posting zeros as he downed the Twins 2-0. Feeling zeroed in on was Gaylord Perry, who lost his 11th and 12th games.
Frank White of Kansas City (3-4) settled a 12-inning tussle with California with a grand slam. Steve Busby earned the win, his 11th, after wriggling out of a one-out, bases-full jam in the 11th inning by striking out the next two batters.
Minnesota dropped six in a row before taking two games from Texas with late rallies. Rookie Dan Ford came through with vital hits in both wins, one of which went to Jim Hughes, who had lost five in a row.
OAK 47-26 KC 41-33 TEX 35-39 MINN 33-37 CHI 33-38 CAL 34-42
While the Red Sox and Yankees squabbled over first place (page 16), the Indians were happy to climb to fifth. They accomplished it with a six-game winning streak, their longest in three years. Cleveland began its upward surge when Rico Carty was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 10th, forcing in the clinching run in a 3-2 decision over Milwaukee. Thereafter, the Indians were more hitters than hittees as they slammed six homers while jolting Boston 11-3, 8-6 and 8-5.
Milwaukee (5-3) took three games from Detroit: 5-0 as Jim Slaton tossed a three-hitter and then 4-2 and 7-6 as George Scott bopped three home runs. Don Money, who holds records for the best fielding percentage by third basemen in both leagues, made two errors in one inning. That gave him five for the year, which was all he had for the entire 1974 season. It was unlikely that Money had suddenly become fumble-fingered, however; his troubles were probably traceable to a month layoff following surgery for a hernia.
With his offense sputtering badly, Oriole Manager Earl Weaver (page 56) resorted to drastic measures, like ordering Mark Belanger to try a bases-loaded suicide squeeze with the score tied in the eighth, even though he had an 0-2 count on him. But Belanger complied, the Birds overcame the Tigers 3-2, Ross Grimsley hurled a five-hitter and that was the end of a five-game losing streak.
The news from Detroit was bad: 13 errors and seven losses in eight tries landed the Tigers in last place, and Manager Ralph Houk wound up in court after allegedly manhandling a Baltimore sportswriter. Houk reportedly dragged the writer through the clubhouse and shouted, "What right do you have to call my team lousy?" In their sole victory the almost lousy Tigers beat the Orioles 6-5.
NY 41-31 BOS 39-30 MIL 38-34 BALT 32-38 CLEV 30-40 DET 27-42
It was an improbable cast that propelled St. Louis (6-3) to the week's best record in the East: three pitchers who had been virtually written off, another with a black eye, a singles-hitter-turned-slugger and a dieting-meditating catcher. Early in the season the Braves gave up on Ron Reed and traded him to the Cardinals. Last week he beat the Mets 1-0 in the first game of a doubleheader, giving him a 4-1 record and 1.80 ERA as a Redbird. In the second game John Denny, who had been sent to the minors earlier, won 4-0 when Catcher Ted Simmons hit a pinch grand slam. Simmons, who batted .444 for the week (.380 during June), was down to 203 pounds after losing 16 pounds on a grapefruit-and-broiled-meat diet augmented by meditation that "relaxed my anxiety about my weight." Bob Gibson, for whom this has been a traumatic farewell season, beat Montreal 6-4 for his 250th win. And Reliever Al Hrabosky, despite a left eye swollen almost shut after being struck with an errant pregame throw, earned a 3-2 victory over Montreal with the aid of a 10th-inning pinch hit by Ron Fairly. Second Baseman Ted Sizemore, who has had just 13 homers in six years, hit two on successive days.
Philadelphia had its largest midweek attendance ever, 119,393, for a four-game sweep of Pittsburgh. First came a 6-5 battle settled by Ollie Brown's homer and shutout relief pitching by Tom Hilgendorf and Gene Garber. Next the Phillies took a doubleheader 6-3 and 8-1. In the finale, the Phillies came from six runs down to win 7-6 on a bases-jammed walk in the 13th. Philadelphia lost three other games, but did overhaul Montreal 4-3 with a spate of clutch hits: a pinch homer in the eighth by Jay Johnstone, and in the ninth a game-tying blast by Greg Luzinski and a pinch double by Tony Taylor.
Pittsburgh (4-5) stayed on top as Dock Ellis beat New York 2-0 and Chicago 5-1, and rookie John Candelaria took care of the Cubs 5-2, striking out 13 for a season's high in the league. As usual, the Pirates had a flurry of homers: Rennie Stennett's three-run drive in the ninth gave Candelaria his win; Richie Hebner hit three (he has 10 in all) and Dave Parker had two (he has 13).
Chicago (3-5) fell below .500 for the first time since April. Ray Burris blanked Montreal 6-0 and Bill Bonham put down Pittsburgh 1-0 with the help of a scintillating last-out play by Third Baseman Bill Madlock.
New York was shut out in its first three games and ran its scoreless string to 35 innings. Once untracked, the Mets won four times. Tom Seaver took his 11th game and lowered his ERA to 1.73, the best in the league, as he beat the Cardinals 2-1. The Mets, who had not scored a run for Randy Tate in 22 innings, backed him with five as he clamped down on the Phillies 5-2.
Steve Rogers of Montreal silenced Philadelphia 4-0 and Dan Warthen gave up just one run in six innings of relief to down St. Louis 5-4. Outfielder Pepe Mangual batted .353, drove in six runs, scored 10 and slugged a three-run homer in a 10-run inning, the biggest splurge ever by the Expos, in a 12-6 romp over the Cubs. All else was negative for the Expos, who lost their other six games.
PITT 42-29 PHIL 40-33 NY 36-32 CHI 36-37 ST. L 35-36 MONT 30-38
For Cincinnati Manager Sparky Anderson it was a dream week in which his every move seemed to turn out right. When he wanted to give Johnny Bench a bit of a rest, he put him in right field and used Bill Plummer behind the plate. Plummer responded with a homer, single and three RBIs; Bench with his 15th homer, 28th double and four RBIs as the Reds thumped the Braves 8-4. Against San Diego, Anderson put the almost-forgotten Danny Driessen at first base, and his three-run homer in the 11th produced a 5-2 victory. Needing a pinch hitter in another game with the Padres, Sparky called upon George Foster with one on and two out in the bottom of the 10th and got a home run. And in a 5-1 week there also were back-to-back shutouts over Atlanta in which the Reds pulled off nine double plays. That was not all the fielders did; they tied the major league mark for consecutive errorless games by extending their streak to 12. On top of all that there was Joe Morgan, who had a dreamlike week of his own with .409 hitting, eight RBIs, two homers and four steals.
Los Angeles (2-5), in a scoring drought, dropped two one-run games to Houston and even failed to win at Candlestick Park, where the Dodgers had taken 10 in a row. Before the Los Angeles series it was revealed that the Giants had failed to pay their $125,000 stadium rental for 1974. After a clubhouse meeting for players only, Giant Pitcher Ed Halicki said, "We can't do anything about front-office problems but we agreed we can play better baseball." That they did. Halicki beat the Dodgers 2-0 that day, and the Giants (4-5) also took the next two games from L.A., 10-5 and 2-1.
San Diego (4-3) swept four games from San Francisco, starting with a come-from-behind 7-6 slugfest. From there on the Padre pitching was superb as Randy Jones and Brent Strom, both lefties, stifled the Giants 2-1 (in 10 innings) and 3-0, and Rich Folkers won 6-2. Big bopper Willie McCovey, heating up with the weather just as he said he would, hit three homers and had nine RBIs.
When Atlanta (3-5) and Houston (4-3) squared off in a battle to stay out of the basement, both were engulfed in miseries. The Braves had not scored for 19 innings; Astro Owner Roy Hofheinz was saddled with whopping debts and had lost sole control of his empire. A three-man board, of which he is a member, now has charge. Houston, aided by five errors, took the opener against Atlanta 8-4. But the Braves won the next two, 7-4 and 6-3, as they rallied for all their runs in the last three innings. Earlier, the Astros had ended Don Sutton's nine-game winning streak against them by beating L.A. 5-4.
CIN 47-27 LA 42-35 SF 36-39 SD 35-39 ATL 31-43 HOUS 28-50