San Francisco leads the majors in snuff users (14), permanents (eight) and, now that Catchers Dave Rader and Mike Sadek have come clean, in Telly Savalas-type skullheads (three, Dave Heaverlo being the other). Furthermore, the Giants are right up there in top-notch young pitchers, three of whom excelled in a 4-3 week. Best of all was Ed Halicki, 24, who baffled the Mets 4-0, striking out 10 and firing a no-hitter. Pete Falcone, 21, fanned 12 as he beat Montreal 4-3. And John Montefusco, 25, set a season high for the league when he whiffed 14 Expos in a 9-1 laugher.
For downstate opponents San Diego (2-6) and Los Angeles (3-4) the week was a bummer. After taking a doubleheader from the Phils, the Padres plummeted. Randy Jones won the opener 7-2 for his 17th victory and Bobby Tolan wrapped up the 12-inning 7-6 nightcap with a clutch single. Next time out, Jones' hopes for the Cy Young Award and an ERA title were jarred when he was hit hard in a 10-8 loss to Montreal. Mike Marshall of the Dodgers lost for the 14th time, a wild pitch undoing him in a 5-3 defeat by the Expos. An apparent game-winning hit that night by Bill Buckner was nullified when illegal grooves were found in his bat. Don Sutton was bombed by the Mets for six runs in two-thirds of an inning. Dave Lopes' act was interrupted when, after stretching his record number of successful steal attempts to 38, he was gunned down by Montreal's Gary Carter. Upbeat news: Andy Messer-smith blanked New York 7-0 and Burt Hoo-ton deflated Philadelphia 10-0 for his seventh straight win.
Clyde King, the Braves' manager for a year, was replaced by Connie Ryan, one of the club's scouts. Atlanta was 1-4 during King's final week.
Houston (3-1) perked up. Backed by seven homers, Larry Dierker downed Chicago 8-4 and surprised Pittsburgh 7-4 to square his record at 13-13. Cliff Johnson homered in his fifth consecutive game but was deprived of a sixth in a row when his 11th-inning blast in St. Louis was washed away by rain in the bottom of the inning, the score reverting to 3-3.
Happiness for the Cubs will be not having to face the Reds (6-1) again. Cincinnati's quest for the most wins in one season—the 1906 Cubs had 116—was aided by a three-game sweep of Chicago, which gave the season series to the Reds 11-1. Foremost fatteners against the Cubs this year were Tony Perez (.467 and 22 RBIs), Cesar Geronimo (.452), Johnny Bench (.432), Pete Rose (.422), Joe Morgan (.405) and George Foster (.400). Another plus while in Chicago: a doctor assured Bench the ache in his right shoulder was not arthritic, as had been feared, but from damaged cartilage, which will mend during the off-season. Don Gullett winged his way past the Cardinals 4-0 for his seventh straight victory. And the bullpen saved or won five other games.
CIN 90-44 LA 71-64 SF 66-68
SD 60-75 ATL 58-76 HOUS 52-84
During 3-2 week the oft-maligned Pirate pitching stall" had three impressive complete-game winners: Jerry Reuss beat the Reds 5-1, and Larry Demery and Jim Rooker outfoxed the Braves 8-2 and 4-0. But when it came to crafty pitching no one could equal the Mets (6-2). They swept San Diego behind Hank Webb (a 4-0 victor), Randy Tate (7-2) and Tom Seaver (7-0, for his 19th win). Then came 4-1 and 6-1 defeats of L.A. by Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlack. Offensive oomph was provided by Dave Kingman, whose three homers gave him 28 for the season, and new Outfielder Mike Vail, who was 9 for 14 in San Diego.
The Mets' spurt moved them into third place ahead of the Cardinals (3-4), who took their first three games to bring their August record to 19-7—then collapsed. Al Hrabosky picked up his 19th save in a 6-2 win over Atlanta and his 11th victory when the Cardinals, trailing Houston 8-1, stormed back for a 10-9 verdict.
Philadelphia (3-5) fell three games behind. Tom Underwood, who is 10-1 at home, lost twice on the road, where he is 2-9. But Larry Christenson, whose bad back once prompted a doctor to urge him to limit himself to nothing more arduous than playing a violin, subdued the Dodgers 4-2 and the Giants 3-1. In the Dodger game Mike Schmidt tied teammate Greg Luzinski for the major league home-run lead by blasting No. 31. Tom Hilgendorf provided some much-needed pitching help when he forkballed his way through 7‚Öì innings of shutout relief as the Phillies trimmed the Giants 8-3.
"He's so good he could take a sponge to the plate and hit line drives." That was Pete Rose on Bill Madlock of Chicago, the league's top hitter at .362. Against Rose's Reds this season Madlock is 28 for 52 (.538).
Baseball came up with its own version of The Godfather. While with San Diego, Nate Colbert of Montreal became fast friends with Randy Jones, who chose him to be his daughter's godfather. When Colbert faced Jones last week it almost seemed he had a contract on his buddy, battering him for three hits, including a homer, as Montreal won 10-8. Reliever Dale Murray of the Expos (4-2) started the week with his third win over the Dodgers in as many days and ran his string of homerless innings to 83‚Öì. After being ejected by Bruce Froemming for calling him "a little bleep," Catcher Barry Foote explained that the 5'8" umpire "doesn't like being called 'little.' "
PITT 74-58 PHIL 72-62 NY 71-63
ST. L 71-63 CHI 61-73 MONT 58-74
Plunk. Plunk. Plunk Craig Kusick of Minnesota (4-1) tied a major league record by being hit by three pitches in one game, the last plunk coming with the bases full in the 11th, enabling the Twins to beat Milwaukee 1-0. Bert Blyleven, 6-4 on July 6, went all the way to improve his record to 14-6. Like Blyleven, Gaylord Perry of Texas (5-1) has won eight and lost two since the first week of July. Perry, now 14-15, trimmed Detroit 3-2. More good pitching came from rookie Jim Umbarger, 22, who beat the Tigers 1-0 and the Brewers 8-3.
The only other winning team in the West was California (4-2). Frank Tanana stopped the Yankees 9-0 and the Tigers 8-1.
Another youthful pitcher, Dennis Leonard, 24, of Kansas City (3-3), outdueled two of the league's finest hurlers. Leonard knocked off Jim Palmer and the Orioles 4-3 and then got the upper hand on Catfish Hunter and the Yankees 5-2. And Reliever Rich Gossage, 24, of Chicago (2-5) got his 21st and 22nd saves, coming to the rescue of venerable lefties Claude Osteen and Jim Kaat. Gossage preserved a 2-0 win over the Indians for Osteen and a 4-2 decision over the Orioles for Kaat. Switch-hitting Ken Henderson homered from both sides of the plate in Kaat's triumph, his 19th.
OAK 80-54 KC 71-60 TEX 67-68
CHI 65-69 MINN 63-70 CAL 62-73
Baltimore's Mike Torrez is a native of Kansas, the Sunflower State, and it is fitting that he likes to eat sunflower seeds. But when he tosses the husks onto the artificial turf in K.C. it annoys the groundkeeper, who must pick them up by hand because his vacuum cleaner can't do the job. Last week Torrez added injury to insult by beating the Royals 4-2 for his 16th win. Jim Palmer of Baltimore (4-3) became the first 20-game winner in either league, stopping Chicago 4-2, thanks to a two-run single by Brooks Robinson.
Boston (3-2) maintained its 6½-game lead. A pair of 6-1 wins, by Bill Lee over the White Sox and by Rick Wise over the A's, brought each his 17th victory. Roger Moret held off the Angels 6-2, bringing his record to 11-2.
Cleveland (3-2) gained on New York (3-4) in the battle for third place, climbing to within four games of the Yankees. Fritz Peterson defeated the White Sox for his sixth straight triumph. Two rookies also contributed: Dennis Eckersley beat Chicago 5-1 and Rick Manning grand-slammed Minnesota 9-6. A two-run homer in the eighth by Bobby Bonds carried the Yankees past the A's 3-2, and daring base running by Thurman Munson, who went from first to third on a single to left, set up the winning run in a 10-inning 6-5 squeaker over the Royals.
"The spark is not there," said Don Money of the lethargic Brewers (2-4). But they did snap an eight-game losing streak, overcoming a 5-1 Oakland lead in the seventh to salvage a 7-6 nail-biter. Finishing with a flourish was Reliever Tom Murphy, who came on in the ninth with three on and nobody out, induced two pop-ups, added a strikeout and gained his 17th save.
Detroit lost five in a row, a slump that hardly drew a sigh from weary Tiger fans. Only once did Detroit hitters break loose, but when they did it was for eight runs in one inning—their biggest outburst of the year—in a 9-2 defeat of the Angels.
BOS 79-53 BALT 73-60 NY 67-66
CLEV 61-68 MIL 58-76 DET 52-81