Suddenly, it was a four-team race. Clinging to first place were the White Sox (2-6). Chicago scored three times in the last of the 10th to overhaul Kansas City 5-4 as Chet Lemon hit his second homer of the game, a two-run shot, and Ralph Garr drove in the clinching run with a single. It has become customary this season for Chicago rooters to give standing ovations to their heroes and for the Sox to acknowledge those cheers by tipping their caps or by emerging from the dugout. This has irked some opponents, among them Hal McRae and Amos Otis of the Royals, who homered during an 8-4 win in Chicago and then aped the Sox by doffing their caps as they circled the bases. "This isn't a circus or a nightclub act," McRae said angrily.
When the Sox came to Kansas City the Royals (5-3) continued to mimic them. During a 12-2 conquest, four Royal home-run hitters tipped their caps or came out of the dugout for curtain calls. The biggest bopper that day was John Mayberry, who hit for the cycle. Kansas City won the next day 6-3 as George Brett slammed his fourth homer of the week, a three-run poke. All told, Brett scored 11 runs, drove in nine and hit .405.
Moving up on the White Sox, too, were the Twins (6-2), who took over second place. Lyman Bostock hit .400 and drove across 12 runs, and Mike Cubbage climaxed an 11-run inning with a grand slam as the Twins outlasted the Indians 14-10. Paul Thormodsgard (9-8) beat Detroit 11-1; Dave Goltz held off the Royals 9-4 for his 13th win; and Tom Johnson earned his 12th save.
Texas (6-2) pulled to within four games of the top. Three wins in four games in Chicago accounted for half of the Rangers' four-game gain. After taking the series opener 11-6, the Rangers came back from a 7-0 deficit in the seventh inning of game No. 2 and won 9-8 on Willie Horton's double in the ninth. Texas took the third game 12-10, scoring six times in the 12th and then withstanding a four-run uprising by Chicago. Jim Sundberg kept the Rangers perking as he scored eight runs, drove in seven and batted .464.
Attendance in Seattle (3-2) topped 1 million. Local fans saw Glenn Abbott (9-7) beat Baltimore 6-1 on four hits and New York 9-2 for his fifth and sixth wins in a row. They also saw Lee Stanton homer and drive in three runs in each of those games. Dan Meyer was also a crowd pleaser with a .556 average.
Fans in Oakland (0-6) finally found something to cheer about—the opposition. Several A's were incensed when the spectators gave Boston's Luis Tiant half a dozen standing ovations while he blanked Oakland 1-0.
Ken Brett of California (4-2), who had been ineffective for weeks, utilized tips from Pitching Coach Marv Grissom to win his third and fourth games in a row. "He got me to shorten my stride and open my body more to put less strain on my elbow and more of it on my shoulder and body," Brett explained. Using his revamped delivery, Brett beat New York 4-1 and Baltimore 9-5. Nolan Ryan held off the Yankees 5-3 to become the league's first 15-game winner. And Frank Ta-nana got his 13th win and seventh shutout by stopping the Orioles 5-0 on three singles. Bobby Bonds put some oomph in the attack with four homers, raising his total to 25.
CHI 63-43 MINN 64-47 KC 60-45 TEX 59-47 CAL 51-54 SEA 48-63 OAK 42-65
"I can't remember three young arms coming up to a team that's fighting for a division title and doing what they have done," said Boston Manager Don Zimmer. The three—Don Aase, Mike Paxton and Bob Stanley—enabled the Red Sox (6-0) to move into first place. Aase, whose home is in Anaheim, Calif., blanked the Angels there l-O on three hits in his second big league start. Next time out, in Oakland, Aase gave up five hits and one run in seven innings. Having thrown 103 pitches at that point, he was relieved by Bill Campbell, who protected Aase's 2-1 lead and got his 18th save. Paxton, with relief help from Stanley, defeated Seattle 12-4. The Red Sox slugged five homers in that game, Jim Rice connecting for his 28th and 29th, George Scott his 27th, Butch Hobson his 21st and Bernie Carbo his 11th, a grand slam. As if inspired by the young pitchers, Ferguson Jenkins beat Oakland 3-1 on three hits, and Luis Tiant gave up only five singles as he muffled the A's 1-0. All of which stretched Boston's winning streak to nine games. Eight of those triumphs came away from home as the Red Sox were enjoying their most successful road trip since 1939, when they ran off 12 wins in a row during a 17-5 junket.
Dropping back 2½ games were the Orioles (2-3). After being knocked out in the third inning of a 6-1 loss in Seattle, Jim Palmer revealed, "I've had pain in my forearm since June 1. That's why I haven't had good velocity the last two months. Something's got to be done." Rudy May (12-9) chalked up his 100th career victory when he downed the A's 5-1. Baltimore's other win also came in Oakland, an 8-6 game in which rookie switch-hitter Eddie Murray homered from each side of the plate. Ken Singleton, who was 8 for 17, drove in three of his seven runs in that contest.
Controversy continued to hound the Yankees (2-4). Pitcher Don Gullett's expensive left arm was ailing, and he was having a problem with grass. It was not the stuff on American League infields, but marijuana, 2,800 pounds of which were found flourishing on Gullett's Kentucky farm. Police confiscated the crop but insisted Gullett was not suspected of being involved in the pot plot. Multiple woes also plagued Reggie Jackson. An official complaint was issued against him on behalf of a Bronx youth, who said Jackson kicked him outside Yankee Stadium following the All-Star Game. After rumors circulated that Jackson had an escape clause that would permit him to terminate his five-year contract at the end of this season, New York President Gabe Paul issued a firm denial. A man planning to open a sausage shop in Baltimore began plugging a 25¢ item he intends to put on his menu—a "Reggie Jackson," which, the man explained, "is a two-bit hot dog." The most productive Yankee was Mickey Rivers, who hit .464.
All four wins by Toronto (4-2) came against Milwaukee (1-6). Two of them went to Dave Lemanczyk (10-9), who has a chance to break the record of 13 wins by a pitcher with an expansion club that was established in 1969 by Gene Brabender of Seattle. Ron Fairly walloped his 200th lifetime homer, a three-run drive that newcomer Jim Clancy made stand up for a 3-2 win over the Brewers. Milwaukee dropped to sixth place, beating Cleveland 7-4 for its lone victory. A $6 million refinancing scheme was being worked out for the debt-ridden Indians (3-4), who have lost 22 of 31 games. But the Indians did advance to fifth place by taking a doubleheader from the Brewers, Dennis Eckersley winning the first game 9-2 and Wayne Garland the second 7-4.
Dave Rozema of the Tigers (2-4) beat the Twins 4-2 for his fourth straight victory. That left rookie Rozema with an 11-4 record, which was Mark Fidrych's record at this point a year ago. Ron LeFlore, who had a 30-game hitting streak last season, stretched his latest string to 13 games with a double and game-winning homer in a 6-5 squeaker over Texas.
BOS 63-43 BALT 61-46 NY 59-49 DET 48-58 CLEV 46-59 MIL 47-62 TOR 38-68
Willie McCovey and Manny Mota, both 39, and Phil Niekro, 38, remained frisky. During a 9-2 romp in Montreal, McCovey drove in five runs for San Francisco (2-4) with his 18th and 19th homers. One of those blasts was Stretch's 18th grand slam, extending his league record and putting him five back of Lou Gehrig's major league mark. McCovey raised his RBI figure to 57 and his batting average to .281 when he drove in two runs as the Giants trimmed the Mets 7-3. Rookie Randy Elliott set a club record with a pinch homer, the Giants' eighth of the season.
With his ninth pinch hit in 19 at bats this year, Mota increased his career total to 115 and took over third place on the alltime list. Also doing some hitting for the Dodgers (2-4) was Pitcher Tommy John, who singled twice while topping the Mets 7-2 for his sixth straight win. But the lustiest batters were Reggie Smith (.483) and Bill Russell (.400).
Niekro, who leads the league with 171 strikeouts, pitched the Braves (3-4) to a 3-1 win and fanned 11 Expos. Atlanta got further support from Eddie Solomon, who beat Pittsburgh 8-3 and Montreal 5-2, and from Jeff Burroughs, who hit four home runs to give him 28.
"C.C. is back," said Cesar Cedeno of Houston (4-3). "With a lot of help from [hitting instructor] Deacon Jones and the other coaches, I know myself again." Cedeno concluded a 9-for-28 week with his sixth and seventh homers as he drove in all the Astro runs in a 4-1 win over the Cardinals. The win went to former Cardinal farmhand Tom Dixon, 22, who pitched a five-hitter. Other victories were achieved when Joe Niekro beat Pittsburgh 3-0 with his second shutout in a row, when Jose Cruz homered in the bottom of the 11th to finish off the Pirates 4-3 and when Bob Watson drilled a pair of two-run doubles to knock off St. Louis 5-4.
San Diego's two wins in six tries were protected in the late innings by Rollie Fingers, who picked up his 23rd and 24th saves. Dave Kingman homered in both those games, driving in seven runs with two blasts during an 11-8 slugfest in Chicago. Last year's Cy Young winner, Randy Jones, came off the disabled list and was shelled as both a reliever and starter.
Although the Reds (4-3) were virtually out of the race, huge crowds—236,601 fans showed up for six dates—continued to flock to Riverfront Stadium. Luring all those spectators was George Foster, who for the sixth and seventh times this season hit two home runs in one game. His biggest smash came during a 5-3 win over Chicago, a drive that traveled almost 550 feet. Dan Driessen won that game with a two-run homer in the 10th and downed the Cubs 7-6 with a tie-breaking triple. Joe Morgan wrapped up an 11-for-24 week with a single, a double, his 16th homer and four RBIs as Tom Seaver defeated Pittsburgh 8-3.
LA 67-42 CIN 54-54 HOUS 52-59 SF 49-61 SD 47-65 ATL 39-69
The Phillies (5-1) did everything possible to please their customers. They played superbly, climbed into first place and, when 34,868 fans—many of them business people—attended a rare midweek day game, the scoreboard kept them informed by flashing Dow Jones averages. Philadelphia beat San Diego 2-1 that day, Bake McBride singling in the winning run in the 10th. A two-out hit in the bottom of the ninth by Ted Sizemore gave the Phillies a 1-0 verdict over the Dodgers. They also trimmed the Dodgers 8-3 with a seven-run rally in the eighth, during which Greg Luzinski hammered his third homer of the week and 27th of the season. Reliever Tug McGraw won twice, and Steve Carlton (15-6) had three hits and three RBIs and struck out 12 while throttling the Padres 8-1.
After being in front for 69 days, Chicago (3-3) fell back. Ace Reliever Bruce Sutter was put on the 21-day disabled list with an aching shoulder. In hopes of filling Sutter's spot as their top short reliever, the Cubs purchased veteran Dave Giusti from the A's.
Timely hits and some about-time homers aided third-place Pittsburgh (3-4). Bill Robinson, who hit three home runs during the week, carried the Pirates past the Astros 6-3 with a three-run clout in the 10th. An inning earlier, Robinson had singled during a two-run rally to send the game into extra innings. Dave Parker, who had not homered in almost four weeks, drilled two balls over the fence and had five RBIs as Jerry Reuss beat the Reds 12-1. And Frank Taveras, who had gone much longer without a four-bagger, hit one as the Pirates concluded a doubleheader sweep of the Reds with a 10-6 victory. After almost four seasons and 1,600 at bats, Taveras' first was the rarest of homers—an in-side-the-park grand slam.
Sharp pitching buoyed St. Louis (4-3). Bob Forsch (14-5) downed Houston 3-1, Eric Rasmussen beat Atlanta 5-1 and Clay Carroll saved a 6-4 win over the Braves. Reliever Butch Metzger, who had "lost" his big out pitch—a rising fastball—found it again and recorded a win and two saves.
Also excelling in relief was Don Stanhouse of the Expos (3-4). Stanhouse, who had a 5.07 ERA as a starter, had a win and a save and lowered his ERA to 1.55 as a bullpen specialist. Montreal's young outfielders hit a combined .390, Warren Cromartie batting .464, Ellis Valentine .400 and Andre Dawson .292.
Four times the Mets (4-2) came from behind before finally downing the Dodgers 8-7 on Joel Youngblood's pinch hit in the 12th. Lee Mazzilli's pinch single in the 14th knocked off the Dodgers again, this time 4-3. And an eighth-inning double by Lenny Randle overcame the Giants 3-2. In their biggest outburst of the week the Mets held on for a 10-9 victory over San Diego as Skip Lock-wood earned his 17th save.
PHIL 63-44 CHI 62-44 PITT 62-47 ST. L 60-50 MONT 51-57 NY 46-60
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
GEORGE FOSTER: Six homers and 12 RBIs by the Cincinnati outfielder lifted his major league-leading totals to 38 and 109. The former also gave him a shot at Hack Wilson's 47-year-old league mark of 56 home runs.