Cincinnati (6-2) set a major league record for consecutive errorless games (15) before Dan Driessen misplayed a ball in left field. In dismantling the Astros, the Reds had game-tying four-run rallies in the late innings of successive games, winning the first 9-6 on Johnny Bench's three-run homer in the 12th and the other 8-7 on Joe Morgan's single in the 15th. Then, down 3-1 to Houston, Cincy won 4-3 on George Foster's three-run, 420-foot home run.
Houston (0-7) also lost four times to Atlanta. Carl Morton beat the Astros 3-1 and 5-4, the second win coming on Ralph Garr's eighth-inning home run.
Woes mounted for Los Angeles (4-3). Internal rumbling surfaced when some Dodgers complained that Steve Garvey seemed too eager to project his "good-guy image." Garvey answered the criticism with five RBIs in a 7-1 win over the Giants and with a game-winning hit in the 14th to knock off the Padres 6-5. Joe Ferguson probably was lost for the year after breaking his right arm when he punched Padre Pitcher Bill Greif during a beanball ruckus. San Diego (3-5) won that game 10-1 and twice beat Cincinnati, once on a one-hitter by Randy Jones.
San Francisco (3-3) started off the week by getting past L.A. 5-2 to wrap up its first four-game sweep of the Dodgers in 11 years. When the teams met again John Montefusco further frustrated the Dodgers 1-0.
CIN 53-29 LA 46-38 SF 39-42
SD 38-44 ATL 36-44 HOUS 28-57
While Pittsburgh (6-2) solidified its grip on first place (page 20), only one other Eastern team had a winning week. Philadelphia (6-3) started and finished with doubleheader wins over New York. At Shea Stadium the Phillies won 9-6 and 4-3 (on Greg Luzinski's 19th homer in the 12th) as Tug McGraw saved the first game and won the second with seven innings of one-hit relief. In Philly the Mets got even with McGraw when Dave Kingman and Jerry Grote homered in the ninth inning to beat him 4-3. The next day the Phillies took their second twin bill 8-2 and 10-7. During the afternoon Luzinski hit his 22nd homer and took the major league lead in RBIs with 68. Luzinski's clout hit the top of the scoreboard behind the 371-foot sign. Despite such feats Luzinski was not among the top 12 NL outfielders in the ludicrous All-Star voting.
In addition to losing four of five to the Phillies, the Mets (4-5) also lost reliever Bob Apodaca, who sustained a compound fracture of the nose when hit by a batted ball.
Steve Renko of the Expos (3-4) scored 7-3 and 5-1 victories over the Cardinals, rapping five hits and driving in three runs. Al Hrabosky of St. Louis (3-5) had to have his injured left eye taped to keep it open, but that did not hamper him. His three saves boosted his league-leading total to 13.
Chicago (3-6) took a double header from Pittsburgh 6-1 and 2-1, the second win coming on a hit by Jose Cardenal. The night before, Cardenal had been jailed for allegedly pummeling a policeman who charged his wife with illegally parking their car.
PITT 48-31 PHIL 46-36 NY 40-37
ST. L 38-41 CHI 39-43 MONT 33-42
First place was like a greased pole: those who grasped it instantly slipped. New York (0-7) was on top for one day, then was bumped aside by Boston in a 3-2 loss at Fenway Park. The Red Sox (3-6) hardly had time to enjoy their lead before falling on hard times. Rick Wise did beat the Brewers 6-3, but lost his no-hitter with two out in the ninth when George Scott homered. Dick Pole fared worse. While downing Baltimore 5-2, he was struck by a line drive and suffered a fractured cheekbone. Then the Sox lost two of three to the fast-rising Brewers, who moved into a tie for first with the Sox. Sure enough, once there the Brewers lost twice to last-place Detroit.
Catching up on the stumbling leaders were the Orioles (6-2), who cut their games-be-hind margin from eight to four. Baltimore, which had struggled for runs all season, suddenly scored them in bunches. Don Baylor hit five homers and tied a big-league record with four in a row, three in a 13-5 laugher over Detroit. All this was on the road, where the Orioles are hitting 31 points higher than at home and where they have hit 16 more homers than they have in Baltimore.
Since a Cleveland sportscaster held on-the-air funeral services for the Indians the club has enjoyed a resurrection, winning 12 of 15 games. Last week the Indians were 6-2. Four of the victories were by the score of 3-2, with rookie Eric Raich earning two of them and Dave LaRoche winning one and saving two others.
It was also a week of resurgence for Detroit (4-4), which had lost 21 of 25. Joe Coleman stopped Baltimore 9-5 for his first triumph in six weeks. And with Willie Horton and Bill Freehan rapping timely hits, the Tigers built a three-game winning streak, their longest in two months.
BOS 42-36 MIL 43-37 NY 41-38
BALT 38-40 CLEV 36-42 DET 31-46
A Mutt and Jeff slugging combination helped Kansas City, and the funky chicken and a couple of upstart pitchers bailed out California. The Royals (4-2) hit 15 homers, 11 as they took two of three games from the Rangers. Freddie Patek, 5'4" and 140 pounds, clouted two of them, and John May-berry, 6'3" and 220 pounds, blasted five against Texas (three in one game) and added another against Chicago to give him six in 13 at bats.
Mickey Rivers of the Angels (4-4) was benched for three days, then came back to steal three bases and increase his major-league-leading total to 46. He attributed his resurgence to a resumption of the frequent dancing that he had cut out several weeks ago. After going back to the bump and the funky chicken, Rivers said, "They keep the life in my legs." Nolan Ryan was drubbed twice, once blowing a 6-0 lead, but Ed Figueroa and Frank Tanana excelled. Figueroa handled the A's 2-0 and Tanana whiffed 15 Twins in a 10-3 win. That gave Tanana 40 strikeouts in three starts, tying an AL mark for lefties and making him only the fifth pitcher ever to strike out 40 in such a short span.
Chicago (4-3) continued its Phoenixlike rise from the basement, taking three of four games from Oakland and winging its way to third place. Jim Kaat (13-4) became the majors' top winner with two victories.
Oakland's Vida Blue won for the 12th time and Ken Holtzman beat California 7-1 and 5-0. But the A's, who began the week tied for the major league lead in home runs, hit none and lost four other outings.
Homers were something Ferguson Jenkins of the Rangers (3-4) did not want to think about after yielding five to raise his league lead in that unenviable category to 25.
Reliever Vic Albury of the Twins (4-5) was doubly concerned when he came in against the Angels in the eighth inning. He was worried about the two men on base he inherited and also that his new headful of woven hair might slip. But Albury, who is almost bald under his rug, emerged with both a save and his coiffure in a 9-4 win.
OAK 50-30 KC 45-35 CHI 37-41
TEX 38-43 MINN 37-42 CAL 38-46