Third-place Pittsburgh (6-2) mounted its long-awaited run at the Phillies, winning six of seven—two in extra innings over San Diego and two more over old nemesis Los Angeles. Dodger Catcher Joe Ferguson had a hard time against Pittsburgh. In one game he was guilty of interfering with a Rennie Stennett swing. But wait. Although his bat was tipped by Ferguson's glove, Stennett lofted a long fly to right field. Bill Robinson, on third base, tagged up and scored easily after the catch. The plate umpire ordered Stennett to first base and Robinson back to third. Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner argued that in cases of interference the offensive team can opt to take the play. The ump agreed and waved Robinson and Stennett off the bases. The night before, Ferguson passed a teammate on the base path after Pirate Centerfielder Omar Moreno made a spectacular one-handed catch at the wall of a drive by Bill North. Ferguson was called out, the third out of the inning, just as teammate Steve Garvey crossed the plate. When the argument ended, it was ruled that Garvey had scored on the inning-ending double play.
During the Pirate surge, 37-year-old Willie Stargell and Dave Parker, back in the lineup after surgery on a broken cheekbone, had key hits, and Jim Bibby threw a six-hit shutout at San Francisco. But after closing within 4½ games of Philadelphia—and Chicago still ahead of them, too—the Pirates made three errors and lost to San Francisco 3-2 to fall 5½ back.
The Phillies (5-3) scored only two runs in losing twice to Houston, lowering their season road record to 17-27. Back home, Greg Luzinski hit his 22nd and 23rd home runs and Reliever Ron Reed got his first win of the season as Philadelphia split two games with Cincinnati and swept three from the Astros. Steve Carlton failed for the sixth time to gain his 200th career victory.
Chicago (4-4) held on to second place despite the danger that seemed to lurk at every turn in a doubleheader split with the Giants. In the two games: 1) Giant Catcher Mike Sadek suffered a broken jaw in a collision with Cub Shortstop Ivan DeJesus; 2) DeJesus was knocked cold; 3) Cub First Baseman Bill Buckner twisted his neck and was rendered unconscious while sliding into third base; 4) Cub Catcher Larry Cox left the game early complaining of a fever. Said Cub physician Dr. Jacob Suker: "It was like the first wave at Iwo Jima." The Cubs also split with Los Angeles, as Mike Krukow won his fourth straight since returning from the minors.
Just when New York (6-4) had fallen to within one game of last place, Pitchers Skip Lockwood, Tom Hausman, Nino Espinosa, Mike Bruhert and Craig Swan and sluggers Willie Montanez and Steve Henderson all came to life at once. As a result, the Mets pulled safely away from the last-place Cards by winning five straight, their longest streak since September 1976.
St. Louis (2-6) still had those Ninth Inning Blues. So far this season the Cards have scored only six runs in the ninth, none of which figured in a St. Louis victory. Ninth-inning ineptness might have a lot to do with the Cardinals' 10-22 record in one-run games. Suffering most is Reliever Mark Littell, who has a 2.16 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 74⅖ innings but a 1-7 record. In a game with the Dodgers, the Cards did manage to score two runs in the ninth. Alas, they lost 7-5.
Maybe All-Star Pitcher Steve Rogers of Montreal (4-4) shouldn't have spoken up. Minutes before a game against Atlanta, Expo General Manager Charlie Fox was in the clubhouse upbraiding Montreal batters for what he considered inconsistencies. Most of the tirade was directed at Shortstop Chris Speier, who had but one hit in his previous 18 at bats. Suddenly Rogers interrupted Fox. Whereupon Fox challenged Rogers, the two went belly-to-belly and Fox punched Rogers in the face. "He has no business interfering when I'm talking with one of my players," Fox said later. "I never saw it coming," said Rogers. Speier then went out and hit for the cycle, driving in six runs as Montreal—in an otherwise in-and-out week—breezed to a 7-3 victory.
PHIL 52-39 CHI 48-45 PITT 47-45 MONT 47-51 NY 43-56 ST. L. 38-60
With Cincinnati (5-2) clobbering New York 9-1 in the seventh inning, the Reds' Pete Rose—who had gone hitless in four earlier times at bat—swung at the first pitch and walloped a double into deep right center, extending his hitting streak to 29 games. "Once you get five or six runs ahead," he explained after the Reds had won 9-2, "you can't really bunt for a hit." Three nights later, Cincinnati was beating Philadelphia 7-2 in the ninth when Rose—again hitless—laid down a perfect bunt for a single. Afterward he said, grinning, "Haven't I given enough to baseball to bunt once in a while?" By week's end Rose's streak had reached 35 games, two shy of Tommy Holmes' 33-year-old league record. Overshadowed were the hot bats—and tempers—of Red teammates Dave Concepcion and George Foster. Concepcion, who batted .462, was particularly offended by the attention showered on Rose after Dave had homered, doubled twice, singled and knocked in four runs in a win over New York. When reporters finally approached him, Concepcion refused to talk. Foster, who belted five home runs in four games, is a peaceful man, but when beaned by Ross Grimsley, Foster started toward the mound. He was deterred by on-deck batter Johnny Bench. "The party's over," railed Cincinnati Manager Sparky Anderson. "The only way to stop that stuff is to throw at the other team."
Also obscured by Rose's accomplishments was the 24-game hitting streak of Jack Clark of division-leading San Francisco (4-4). Clark, batting .370 during his streak, doubled and batted in two runs in a 9-7 win over St. Louis, singled and doubled for four RBIs in a 7-6 loss to Chicago and hit a two-run homer in a suspended game against the Cubs. Giant Second Baseman Rob Andrews' first major league home run in 1,228 at-bats was the clincher in that 9-7 win over St. Louis. Vida Blue notched his 13th win against Chicago, but reliever Charlie Williams, whose license plates read U-R-OUT, walked five Cubs in a 7-6 Giant loss.
Don Sutton got his 200th career victory, and Reggie Smith found his "happy zone" as Los Angeles (5-3) moved to within two games of the Giants. After hurling a six-hitter to beat Pittsburgh 7-2, Sutton was nine wins away from Don Drysdale's alltime Dodger record. Smith bashed his sixth homer in six games and announced to the world, "When I get the ball in the happy zone, I'm going to drive it out of the park."
San Diego (3-5) clean-up hitter Dave Winfield had only two RBls and went 8 for 32, and relief ace Rollie Fingers took a loss in each of his three appearances. "I don't know what's happening," said Fingers, whose 20 saves lead the majors. John D'Acquisto struck out five batters in four innings to lift his season total to 67 whiffs in 56 innings.
Houston (3-7) Pitchers Joe Niekro and J. R. Richard each hurled victories in which they held the Phillies to one run, but after that the Astros lost six straight. Atlanta (3-6) held Greyhound Day for ex-Brave Pitcher Dick Ruthven, who came to town for the first time since being traded to Philadelphia last June. When Ruthven left Atlanta he was quoted as saying he was delighted with the trade because compared to the Braves' outfield, the Phillies' outfielders were "greyhounds." Greyhound races were held. Greyhound puppies were given away and the Greyhound bus company parked its flashiest coach on the field. As Ruthven took the mound, the public-address system played Roy Clark's song, Thank God and Greyhound You're Gone. Naturally, Philadelphia won and Ruthven was the winning pitcher.
SF 58-39 CIN 56-40 LA 56-41 SD 47-51 ATL 42-53 HOUS 41-55
"I'm not hot," scoffed Kansas City's Clint Hurdle. "I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do." Supposed to, indeed, Hurdle tripled and singled twice in an 11-4 rout of Texas. Then his ninth-inning single put the winning run on base as the Royals beat the Rangers 2-1. The next night, in a 9-0 victory over Boston, Hurdle homered and knocked in six runs, tying a club record. The night after that, with Kansas City and Boston deadlocked at 5-5 in the 10th inning. Hurdle doubled with two out and scored the game-winning run. In the 9-0 game, Paul Splittorff blanked the Red Sox, who suffered their first shutout in 107 games. In all, the Royals won six, lost none and moved past California into the division lead. "Until lately they hadn't played well," said Boston Manager Don Zimmer. "But now I think they'll run and hide."
Oakland (4-3) was the only other team in the division to win more than it lost. The A's advanced into third place and, perhaps as a reward, owner Charlie Finley bought the club its own videotape projector. Outfielder Mitchell Page had been asking for one for months in order to study his batting form. The Angels dropped five of seven against Eastern also-rans Detroit and Cleveland. The only good news for California was Don Baylor's 22nd home run and Nolan Ryan's first victory since May 23. After 22 days on the disabled list with an ailing shoulder, Ryan looked like his old self, shutting out the Indians 3-0 and striking out 10.
Minnesota (1-6) broke a nine-game losing streak when—who else?—Rod Carew tripled home a run and then scored on a single by Dan Ford. Winning Pitcher Dave Goltz had gotten the Twins' last victory two weeks earlier. Chicago (0-6) lost, lost, lost, and Manager Larry Doby got an earful of his first hometown boos, boos, boos. He was also ejected from a game.
Texas (1-6) and Seattle (1-5) fared slightly better, each winning a game. But Mariner pitchers yielded 47 runs in six games and, as righthander Dick Pole said, "Things couldn't get worse." For him, however, they did; GM Lou Gorman placed him on waivers. Ranger owner Brad Corbett was none too happy, either. At a press conference following Texas' fifth straight loss, he turned to Manager Billy Hunter and said, "The first guy you don't want on this club, bring him upstairs."
KC 52-41 CAL 51-45 OAK 49-48 TEX 46-48 MINN 40-51 CHI 39-54 SEA 33-64
While New York (4-2) was in the midst of its customary turmoil (page 14), Milwaukee (6-1) was uncustomarily sweeping a four-game series from Chicago, splitting a pair with the Red Sox and whipping Texas twice to reduce Boston's division-leading margin to six games. Larry Hisle hit his 22nd home run in a 10-inning 2-1 Brewer triumph over Texas—Milwaukee's 11th win in 13 games—which upped the team's record to 56-37, second best in the majors. Uncustomarily, too, it wasn't just Hisle who was giving opponents fits; Catcher Buck Martinez, a .186 hitter, slashed two run-scoring singles in a 4-3 defeat of the Rangers, and righthander Mike Caldwell pitched two complete games. "Fantastic, huh?" beamed Manager George Bamberger.
Catcher Charlie Moore was the goat in the Brewers' only loss of the week. Enraged when Umpire Rich Garcia called Boston's George Scott safe on a play at the plate, Moore dropped the ball and charged the umpire. While he argued, Butch Hobson sneaked all the way around from first base to score, giving Boston a 4-2 lead. But the next night, Moore homered and singled, driving in three runs to help beat the Red Sox 8-6. "I was down on myself," he said later. "I knew I messed up."
Boston (4-3) lost twice in Kansas City, nothing unusual since the Red Sox have won only four of the 12 games they've played there since 1976. Reliever Bill Campbell's recent habit of faltering in key situations continued as he walked in the tying run in the eighth inning of the second K.C. defeat. On a brighter note, Jim Rice finally blasted his 24th home run after a 21-game dry spell.
Detroit won five of seven, thanks mostly to Pitchers Jack Billingham, Jim Slaton and Bob Sykes. Billingham shut out California twice, and Sykes, coming out of the bullpen, hurled two-hit ball for five innings to beat the Angels 7-3. Slaton, who is playing out his option and makes no bones about wanting to be traded to a West Coast team, went the distance in a victory at Oakland. In Billingham's wins, Rusty Staub, who is having a superb year, had six hits in nine at bats, including two home runs.
Cleveland (5-1) might be going nowhere, but the Indian pitching keeps improving. At one point last week the staff had allowed only 20 earned runs in 87 innings, a dandy 2.00 ERA. Lefthander Mike Paxton pitched a two-hit shutout against Seattle in which he fanned six batters, four of them in one inning. Catcher Gary Alexander let the ball elude him after Paxton had struck out Danny Meyer to open the fifth inning. Paxton then whiffed Bruce Bochte, Tom Paciorek and Bill Stein. Baltimore's Mike Cuellar had the majors' last four-strikeout inning in 1970.
Ailing Jim Palmer of Baltimore (4-2), sporting a new mustache, "threw garbage" in defeating Chicago 10-3 for his first win in a month. To compensate for an aching back that saps his fastball, Palmer has been relying on change-ups and sliders. The mustache? "I'm keeping it until I lose," he says. The Orioles played three extra-inning games, winning two.
Toronto (3-4) staggered home from a West Coast road trip with one victory in seven games. Then Relief Pitcher Tom Murphy, winless since April 26, earned decisions over Seattle and Oakland. Against the A's, Outfielder Al Woods, recalled from Syracuse, drove home the tying and winning runs.
BOS 62-31 MIL 56-37 NY 51-32 BALT 52-43 DET 48-46 CLEV 45-49 TOR 35-60
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JACK CLARK: The Giant outfielder banged out 14 hits in 33 at bats, scored seven runs and had 14 RBIs while extending his hitting streak to 24 games. He knocked in 10 runs in four games, four of them in a loss to Chicago.