While the Pirates (1-6), Phillies (1-5) and Cardinals (5-3) battled for the division lead (page 8), the Mets quietly moved up to make it a four-team race. However, injuries to starting Pitchers Jon Matlack, Jerry Koosman and George Stone could make it tough for New York to stage a pennant rush. Tom Seaver beat San Diego 9-4 for his 16th win, but saving the day for the Mets were 25-year-old Hank Webb and 24-year-old Craig Swan, who both won games at week's end.
Having collected 18 hits in an 18-12 loss to Pittsburgh earlier this year, the Cubs should not have been surprised when they knocked out 16 hits in a game with Cincinnati last week and were beaten 12-8—after once leading by five runs. Undaunted by the Cubs' descent from first place to fifth has been Bill Madlock, who went on a 10 for 13 tear last week (he had streaks of 14 for 18 and 12 for 19 earlier this season), to raise his average to .359.
Montreal broke a six-game losing streak by beating the Dodgers 8-3 and 3-2. The toughest loss of the Expos' slump came against San Francisco. In that game, rookie Dan Warthen shut out the Giants on one hit for 10 innings. Expo Reliever Woodie Fryman took the defeat in the 12th.
PITT 67-54 PHIL 65-55 ST. L 64-57
NY 62-58 CHI 57-66 MONT 50-68
When Cincinnati's Pete Rose played left field, it was known as the "Rose Garden." Now that Rose has moved to third base, Reds fans have renamed the area "Fosterville" in tribute to the booming bat of George Foster. During a week in which 17 players had four-hit games, Foster was the best. He went 5 for 5 in a 9-3 win over the Cubs. His three home runs, .519 average and 11 RBIs led the Reds to a 6-0 week and 12 victories in their last 13 games. A .264 hitter last year with only seven homers and 41 runs batted in, Foster's 1975 figures read: .306, 21 and 67. And he was not the only red-hot Red. Rightfielder Ken Griffey had four hits in the same game in which Foster had five. First Baseman Tony Perez added a four-hit performance the next day and Rose finished the week needing just one hit to reach a total of 2,500 for his 13-year career.
No longer harboring any thoughts of catching the Reds, who now lead by 17½ games, Los Angeles was busy trying to stay ahead of its nettlesome neighbors from the north, the Giants. Thirty-year-old Dodger mainstay Don Sutton (16-10) threw a three-hitter to beat the Mets 2-1 and looked as though he might finally have a 20-win season. In the last four years he has won 17, 19, 18 and 19. After six L.A. victories, the week ended with a pair of losses to the Expos and a statement by injured Outfielder Bill Buckner that was indicative of the Dodgers' mood: "I need surgery on my ankle. I would like it to be done now, so I could forget this year and prepare for next."
Outfielder Gary Matthews hit four home runs and Second Baseman Derrel Thomas rapped out nine hits in three games as the Giants also won six in a row before losing twice. Those defeats stalled San Francisco's drive for second place. The Giants still trail the Dodgers by 3½ games.
Surprising San Diego won its 55th game more than a month earlier than last year as lefthander Randy Jones improved his record to 16-7 by throwing a four-hitter against the Phillies. Jones leads all major league starters with a 2.01 ERA.
The Braves beat the Pirates twice when rookie Shortstop Rob Belloir, a former Atlanta Stadium usher, doubled in the first two runs of his career one night and singled and scored the winning run the next.
Playing it cool when you are 33 games below .500 is a difficult proposition, even in the air-conditioned Astrodome, where Houston used to be almost unbeatable. A five-game winning streak briefly improved the Astros' home record to 29-35, but then they dropped three straight at the Dome. The last of the defeats was by a 5-3 score to Chicago, as the Cubs exorcised some old Astrodome demons (they have a 10-year indoor record of 26-51) by bunting home two runs in the same inning.
CIN 81-39 LA 64-57 SF 61-61
SD 55-65 ATL 55-68 HOUS 46-79
Appropriately enough, Detroit's citywide garbage strike and the Tigers' 19-game losing streak, one short of the league record, ended on the same day when Ray Bare fired a two-hitter and Detroit beat the Angels 8-0 in California. Bill Freehan's performance during that span typified the Tigers' frustrations. He went hitless the day the streak began; in the midst of it he was ejected from a game for only the second time in his career; and finally, he broke loose with four hits in the streak-ender.
The first-place Red Sox continued winning often enough to hold off their pursuers. Designated Hitter Cecil Cooper had 12 hits and six RBIs in seven games. In all, the Red Sox had 18 extra-base hits, prodigious slugging that even provoked some sarcasm from reticent Manager Darrell Johnson. "What happened to Earl Weaver's gain-a-game-a-week strategy?" Johnson asked.
That's what Weaver would like to know. When he announced his plan on July 2 his Orioles were only 6½ games behind Boston. Six weeks later they are half a game further back. But there was no arguing with Baltimore's pitching. Mike Cuellar threw a two-hitter and a five-hitter, and 18-game winner Jim Palmer had a two-hitter, a remarkable accomplishment considering rain delays held the game up for nearly three hours.
New York's Catfish Hunter defeated his old Oakland teammates 3-1 on three hits to run his season record against the world champs to 3-0. When Kansas City ripped Doc Medich for three triples in one inning on Saturday, the Yanks slipped to a 9-7 record under Manager Billy Martin.
George Scott, Milwaukee's recently appointed team captain, hit .500 with four homers in five games, but struck out when he tried to supply the Brewers (3-3) with some leadership. After he bawled out Centerfielder Gorman Thomas for missing an easy fly ball, a perturbed Thomas said, "They named him captain, not Lord Superior."
When Boog Powell developed wrist and elbow problems in Baltimore, Oriole fans complained that he had only "warning track power" and was nearing the end of his career. Traded to Cleveland (1-5), where he has been healthy all year, Powell is hitting .306 with 19 home runs.
BOS 73-48 BALT 65-54 NY 62-58
MIL 56-65 CLEV 52-65 DET 47-74
The Oakland-Kansas City race tightened when the A's dropped four of seven games at home. Still, Oakland's grittiest victory, a 4-3 defeat of the Red Sox, had a playoff feel to it. Claudell Washington went to the wall for one drive and made a shoestring catch of another after eighth-inning homers by Fred Lynn and Carlton Fisk had cut the A's lead to one run. Joe Rudi saw a specialist after he injured his left thumb and was told he might have to wear a cast on it for the rest of the season. So the indefatigable Rudi found a more obliging doctor, who said the cast could be removed within two weeks.
While the Royals remained six games behind, Texas moved up to third place. When the Rangers acquired 36-year-old Gaylord Perry from Cleveland in June, he could not keep the ball down—and his 6-9 record showed it. And after Perry lost four in a row for Texas, it seemed that the Indians knew what they were doing. But since July 6 Perry has been making like the best pitcher in baseball, with a 7-2 record and four shutouts. In the last 67 innings he has given up three earned runs. Tom Grieve knocked in 11 runs in seven games as Texas won seven of nine on the road.
Jim Kaat won his 17th game as the White Sox split six games and fell to fourth place.
Minnesota, the most schizophrenic team in either league, has the following record for the past six weeks: lost five in a row and, soon thereafter, four more in a row; won four straight; lost four straight; won four straight; suffered only one defeat last week (7-4 to Milwaukee) before winning three straight. Bert Blyleven (12-6) triumphed twice, and in a 9-1 slaughter of Cleveland, every Twin in the starting lineup got at least two hits.
California, easily the best and most entertaining of the four last-place teams, won five of seven as young Frank Tanana fastballed his way past injured teammate Nolan Ryan to take over the major league lead in strikeouts, with 179. The speedy Angels stole six bases in one game—four in the same inning—and that prompted another major league leader, Mickey Rivers, to predict that he might break Lou Brock's record next year. "I have 60 steals now," said Rivers. "I'm going after 80 this year, and I'd like to get 120 next season."
OAK 73-48 KC 66-53 TEX 60-62
CHI 58-62 MINN 56-66 CAL 55-68