In a week that was filled with superb relief performances, the Phillies (5-2) got the biggest benefits from their bullpen. Relievers Gene Garber, Ron Reed, Tug McGraw and rookie Warren Brusstar worked 17‚Öî innings, allowing eight hits and no runs. Brusstar won twice, while Garber got his 16th save and Reed picked up his 14th and 15th. Larry Christenson (16-6) was a two-time winner; he now has 12 victories in his last 13 decisions. Greg Luzinski's 36th homer and five RBIs gave him nine homers and 28 runs knocked in against the Cardinals this season.
Three saves by Rich Gossage, who has 23 in all, kept Pittsburgh (4-3) going. He preserved a 2-0 victory over Philadelphia for Jim Rooker. Another of his saves came during a 4-3 defeat of St. Louis in which John Candelaria (17-5) got the win. Frank Taveras' 64th steal broke the Pirate record set in 1916 by Max Carey.
Relievers also came to the rescue for St. Louis (3-4). Rookie Ike Sutton won twice. Rawly Eastwick chalked up his 10th save, and Pete Falcone preserved a 3-1 win over the Cubs for Bob Forsch (17-6).
For Montreal (4-3), Bill Atkinson and Will McEnaney came out of the bullpen to earn wins, and Don Stanhouse got his ninth save when he wrapped up a 5-0 win over Pittsburgh for newcomer Dan Schatzeder.
Skip Lockwood of the Mets (4-4) recorded his 20th save. One pitcher who needed no bailing out was Nino Espinosa, who drove in the game's only run and outdueled Steve Carlton of the Phillies 1-0.
Chicago (2-6) won twice in New York with eighth-inning rallies. First came the conclusion of a game suspended because of the July 13 blackout. The Cubs triumphed 5-2 despite 13 strikeouts by Jerry Koosman. Willie Hernandez was a 4-3 winner the next day as he hurled 2‚Öì innings of hitless relief.
PHIL 93-55 PITT 85-65 CHI 77-71 ST.L 77-72 MONT 69-79 NY 59-90
At a time of the season when players do their utmost to boost their statistics, no one was getting better numbers than Reggie Smith of Los Angeles (4-3), who signed a four-year contract for seven figures. Off-season surgery on a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder helped transform him into an MVP candidate. Smith, who walloped his 29th home run, has batted .363 in his last 31 games. Steve Garvey, a .444 hitter last week, socked his 30th home run, while Ron Cey hit his 29th and Dusty Baker his 26th and 27th.
Johnny Bench of Cincinnati (5-2) drove in two runs during a 6-2 triumph over Los Angeles, giving him 100 RBIs for the sixth season. Tom Seaver's 3-2 defeat of the Dodgers was his 200th career victory. The Reds took a third game from the Dodgers, 9-8.
Cincinnati, however, was unable to defeat Houston (4-3), losing twice as the Astros took the season series 13-5. Cesar Cedeno and Jose Cruz homered twice and Bob Watson once, as the Astros subdued the Reds 7-2 behind the pitching of J. R. Richard. In a 13-4 drubbing of the Reds the next day, Watson hit his 17th homer. Watson rounded out his 12-RBI and .423-hitting week with homers during 6-3 and 11-0 wins in San Francisco. Richard (16-11) pitched the shutout, allowing only three hits and striking out 10.
A run-producing single in the eighth by Rob Andrews gave San Francisco (3-4) a 2-1 win over Houston. Ed Halicki (14-10) won that one with the aid of Gary Lavelle, who got his 19th save.
Gene Richards of San Diego (2-5) finished off Houston 4-3 with a single in the 10th. Richards also batted .484 and stole three bases to raise his total to 48, one short of the modern record for a rookie held by Sonny Jackson of the 1966 Astros.
Catchers were productive for Atlanta (3-4). Biff Pocoroba hit a two-run homer as Phil Niekro defeated San Francisco 3-1, and newcomer Dale Murphy bopped two home runs, one a tie-breaker in the 10th, to carry the Braves past the Padres 8-7.
LA 91-58 CIN 80-70 HOUS 75-74 SF 68-82 SD 65-86 ATL 56-93
Manager Whitey Herzog would not take credit for the Royals' 16-game winning streak, the longest in the majors since the 1953 Yankees won 18 in a row. But Herzog did feel he had been instrumental in Kansas City's best previous spurt, 11 consecutive victories in 1959. Said Herzog, who was on the disabled list then, "They couldn't have done it with me." With or without Herzog, the Royals (6-1) lengthened their division lead to 11 games.
Devastating floods prevented the Royals from playing at home for two days. During the rains, George Brett went to see a performance by Morganna, the stripper who recently dashed on the field to give him a kiss. While there, Brett reciprocated, clambering onstage to buss her. Amos Otis was up to more laudable pursuits, housing eight boys stranded by the flood. Otis fed the kids, bedded them down in his apartment, phoned their parents and drove each home the next day. After the floodwaters receded, the Royals won successive doubleheaders from the A's. Two of the wins went to 17-game winners Jim Colborn, who prevailed 5-2, and Dennis Leonard, who was a 6-0 victor. Hal McRae batted .419 and hit his 50th and 51st doubles, the most by an American Leaguer since George Kell had 56 in 1950.
A squeeze bunt, superlative relief work and a couple of Ellises boosted Texas (4-3) into second place. A successful squeeze play by Bert Campaneris in the 17th inning gave the Rangers a 5-4 win over the Twins Len Barker pitched 9‚Öî innings of scoreless relief to pick up the victory. Barker also saved a 3-2 win over the Angels for Dock Ellis. Another Ellis, Johnny, homered as Doyle Alexander (15-10) held off California 2-1 on a three-hitter. Although a loser, Gaylord Perry bumped Cy Young out of fourth place on the alltime strikeout list with his 2,820th whiff.
By hitting his 29th and 30th home runs, Oscar Gamble of Chicago (3-5) set a club record for left-handed batters. Chris Knapp (11-7) beat the Angels 6-2, striking out 13 and giving up just three hits.
Dave Goltz of Minnesota (3-4) kept alive his hopes of becoming a 20-game winner by blanking Chicago 7-0 for his 18th triumph. Rod Carew raised his batting average to .383 with a .469 week and had two RBIs as Reliever Tom Johnson won for the 16th time.
Dave Kingman highlighted his brief stay with the Angels (4-4) by smashing a pair of homers during a 12-7 crunching of the Rangers. Dave LaRoche and Bobby Bonds twice collaborated to stop the White Sox. Bonds walked, stole second and scored the decisive run in the eighth on a double by Mario Guerrero to defeat Chicago 5-4. LaRoche notched his 15th save in that game and got his 16th after Bonds drove in the tie-breaking run in the top of the ninth in a 4-3 win in Chicago.
The A's suffered more traumas. Owner Charlie Finley underwent heart surgery. After turbulent weather grounded a team flight in Salina, Kans., a number of players had to drive 175 miles to Kansas City. It was all part of a 2-5 week that left Oakland just one game in front of last-place Seattle.
The Mariners (2-3) closed in on the A's with the help of former Oakland Pitcher Doc Medich, who was picked up on waivers and stopped K.C.'s winning streak 4-1.
KC 92-55 TEX 81-66 CHI 81-67 MINN 80-69 CAL 71-75 OAK 57-89 SEA 58-92
While the Yankees, Orioles and Red Sox scrambled for first place (page 62), the rest of the teams struggled to achieve lesser goals. The modest objective of the Indians (2-4) at the start of the season was to play .500 ball, but for the eighth time in nine years, they will fall short of that. Picking up the Cleveland victories were Wayne Garland (11-18), who beat Detroit 8-1, and Dennis Eckersley (14-12), who defeated Toronto 6-3.
Jason Thompson became the first Tiger since Willie Horton in 1966 to drive in 100 runs as Detroit (2-4) beat the Indians 5-3 to end a six-game losing streak. Ben Oglivie, whose name is being spelled correctly more often now that he is hitting well, had four hits in that game, including his 19th homer. Later that night the Tigers reached a milestone of sorts when they completed their first doubleheader sweep of the season by edging Cleveland 2-1 in 10 innings.
On Fan Appreciation Night the Brewers (3-2) wanted to give a crowd of 10,718 something to savor. They did, clobbering the A's 8-1 as Sixto Lezcano hit his 18th home run and rookie Lary Sorensen stranded 10 runners en route to his sixth victory. Robin Yount doubled his season homer output in two days against Seattle, hitting his third as the Brewers won 6-5 and his fourth as they came out on top 8-5. Don Money's 24th home run in the 10th inning settled the first of those games.
Tom Murphy of Toronto (3-5) began and ended the week with strong pitching performances. In his first start since 1973, Murphy emerged a 6-4 winner against New York. Back in the bullpen at week's end, Murphy preserved a 6-5 victory over Cleveland for Dave Lemanczyk (12-14). In that game Toronto had six doubles, three by Doug Rader.
NY 92-57 BALT 89-59 BOS 87-61 DET 69-80 CLEV 67-82 MIL 63-88 TOR 50-97
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CESAR CEDENO: The Houston outfielder hit three homers, scored nine times, had six RBIs, stole his 52nd base, stretched his hitting streak to 20 games and batted .469 to raise his average, which was .179 on June 24, to .265.