Before Kansas City (2-4) arrived in Cleveland for a three-game series, George Brett, the Royals' third baseman who was on the disabled list with a chipped bone in his right hand, said on national television that the team wouldn't miss him because "we're going into an easy part of the schedule." Aroused by Brett's remarks, the Indians took three straight from Kansas City. Then lowly Toronto made it four straight by rallying for two runs in the ninth to win 5-4. Larry Gura (9-2) ended the Royals' streak by beating the Blue Jays 5-3.
Second-place California (5-3) and third-place Oakland (4-3) split a four-game series. In the opening game Frank Tanana, the Angels' 14-game winner, lost 2-0 as the A's Matt Keough (7-7) won for the first time since the All-Star break. Nolan Ryan came next, and Oakland beat him 1-0 as Rick Langford (4-7) struck out 11. California came back as Don Aase (8-6) and Paul Hartzell (3-6) defeated the A's 8-2 and 8-1, respectively. Oakland also split with Seattle, and California took two of three from Minnesota.
Five straight losses convinced Texas (2-4) it needed outside help. So Lou Tiche, a clinical psychologist from the Pacific Institute in Seattle, came by to chat with players, coaches, front-office personnel, manager, trainer and wives. Then he watched as Ferguson Jenkins blanked Cleveland 8-0 and former Indian John Lowenstein hit a two-run home run with two out in the 12th for a 4-3 Ranger victory.
Minnesota (2-5) got no help from Umpire Vic Voltaggio. In the Twins' 3-1 loss to Seattle (4-2), Manager Gene Mauch was ejected for disputing one of Voltaggio's safe calls at second base. The next night Voltaggio enraged Mauch when he gave Mariner Leon Roberts his 17th home run even though the replay clearly showed the hit to be a ground-rule double. The Twins lost that one 6-5.
Mike Proly of Chicago (4-3) pitched a complete-game victory over Boston in his first major league start. But his teammate, 19-year-old Britt Burns, who three months ago was 20-1 in high school, lost his first start 7-0 to the Tigers.
KC 59-47 CAL 60-52 OAK 57-54 TEX 51-56 MINN 46-61 CHI 45-62 SEA 40-70
After three innings, Boston (4-3) trailed New York 5-0, and it appeared that the slumping Red Sox would lose for the 12th time in 15 games. However, at 1:15 a.m. the game was tied at 5-5 after 14 innings—and play was suspended until 8 p.m. because in the American League no inning can start after 1 a.m. That woke up the Red Sox. The next night Bob Stanley (6-1) pitched three perfect innings and Boston stroked four singles to win the suspended game 7-5 in 17 innings. Mike Torrez (13-6) then added insult to injury by beating his old club for the first time, 8-1, with home-run help from Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Bob Bailey. Rice's league-leading 25th home run was his second in 33 games and the team's first in the last seven.
Milwaukee (3-3) Manager George Bamberger was 52 years old when his Brewers ended their 5-5 suspended game in Baltimore. But when play resumed two nights later Bamberger was 53—and he got only half of his birthday wish. Milwaukee lost the suspended game 6-5 in 10 innings, but in the regularly scheduled game Mike Caldwell (14-5) won his seventh in a row, Larry Hisle hit his 24th home run, Sal Bando hit his 12th and the Brewers beat the Orioles 5-3. Back home Friday Lary Sorensen (13-8) stopped Boston 6-2 on a six-hitter as Hisle and Bando hit back-to-back first-inning home runs, Gorman Thomas hit his 25th and Cecil Cooper his eighth as the Brewers passed the Red Sox for the major league lead in home runs with 123. The next day Boston regained the home-run lead 124-123 as Jerry Remy, Dwight Evans and Carl Yastrzemski smashed homers in an 8-1 win that also enabled the Red Sox to regain their six-game lead over the second-place Brewers.
Before Dennis Martinez started against the Brewers, Baltimore (3-3) Pitching Coach Ray Miller called his wife in Ohio and had her read him some old scouting charts on Martinez, who had won only one of his previous eight starts. Miller concluded that Martinez no longer was tucking his arms behind his front leg in the windup. Problem solved, Martinez struck out a career-high 10 and won 2-1 on Eddie Murray's 21st home run in the 10th. In all, Murray had 10 hits in 26 at bats. Ed Figueroa (11-7) and a revitalized Catfish Hunter (4-4) both pitched four-hit victories for New York (4-4) over Texas, but Ron Guidry failed twice to win his 16th game. However, Guidry struck out 10 in each game and leads the league with 173. He also lowered his league-leading ERA to 1.98.
Every year Detroit (5-1) seems to unveil a pitching sensation who was not on the roster in training camp. This year's Mark Fidrych and Dave Rozema is righthander Kip Young, who checked Chicago 7-1 for his third complete-game win in his third big league start. Veteran Jack Billingham (11-5) then stopped Chicago 7-0 on four hits.
Cleveland (3-3) took three straight from Kansas City, then dropped two to Texas. Toronto (2-3) completed its best month ever (13-18 in July) with an 8-7, 14-inning win over Detroit.
BOS 68-40 MIL 61-45 BALT 60-48 NY 60-49 DET 59-49 CLEV 51-56 TOR 40-68
Threatening to make it a four-team divisional race, San Diego (5-1) put together its first 10-game winning streak. The Padres couldn't have chosen a more opportune time. In three one-run victories, San Diego held the Dodgers to only four runs. In the first game Eric Rasmussen (10-8) combined with Rollie Fingers for a 4-3 win. Next former Cy Young winner Randy Jones (9-9) fashioned a seven-hitter to shut out the Dodgers, 1-0. After that game L.A. Outfielder Reggie Smith said, "The Padres have never done a thing in their life and now they're popping off by saying it's a four-team race. What are they—eight games out? It might as well be 30 games out." Bob Owchinko silenced Smith and the rest of the Dodgers the next night, allowing only five hits as the Padres won 2-1, with Fingers notching another save.
Slumping Los Angeles (1-6) flew north for a showdown with first-place San Francisco (5-3). After two more one-run losses the Dodgers trailed the Giants by 4½ games, but Bob Welch pitched L.A. back to within 3½ games on Saturday (page 20).
Second place now belongs to Cincinnati (4-2)—and to its third baseman, Pete Rose. On Tuesday, Atlanta's Gene Garber struck out Rose to end the game (a 16-4 win for the Braves) and Rose's consecutive-game hitting streak at 44. That left Rose tied for second place with Wee Willie Keeler, both 12 games shy of Joe DiMaggio's record. The next night Cincy won 6-2 as Rose, showing that "I can hit with the pressure off," connected for a double, two singles and a home run in his first four at bats. He is now batting .318 and is in a virtual tie with Atlanta's Jeff Burroughs for the National League batting lead. Rookie Mike LaCoss (3-1) stopped San Diego's winning streak 7-1 by throwing a four-hitter.
Once Rose left town, the crowds left Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. More than 100,000 watched the Braves (2-5) drop two of three to Cincinnati, but only some 30,000 watched them duplicate that feat against Houston. Knuckleballer Phil Niekro (13-11), who was the victim as Rose extended his streak to 44 in the Braves' 3-2 loss to the Reds, came back to strike out 12 and pitch his 15th complete game as the Braves beat the Astros 7-2.
On the same night that the Braves' Niekro was pitching to Rose, Houston's Niekro, brother Joe (9-8), kept chewing away on his wad of tobacco. "If all goes well I'll use the same wad the whole game," he said, "but if I have a bad inning I'll throw it away and start over." One wad was enough as Niekro beat San Francisco 4-1, allowing only two singles. The next night J. R. Richard (11-9) held the Giants to four hits in a 4-2 win; he also struck out 11 to raise his league-leading total to 205. Enos Cabell had the game-winning hit, and the next day he had a new five-year contract. Two wins in Atlanta lifted Houston (5-2) from the division cellar for the first time since July 7.
SF 66-45 CIN 64-45 LA 62-48 SD 57-53 HOUS 51-58 ATL 50-59
Philadelphia (3-3) had another lackluster week, and Manager Danny Ozark was hopping mad. "Sometimes the hitters just remind me of a popcorn machine," said Ozark, referring to a Phillies lineup that has scored almost 80 fewer runs than the team did last year by this time. Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski showed no signs of coming out of their batting slumps (both are hitting below .260). Garry Maddox is in the midst of a 10-for-54 slump, but at least he got his hits at the right time. Maddox' three-run homer helped the Phillies beat New York 8-6, and his run-scoring triple was all Larry Christenson (8-10) needed to defeat Pittsburgh 2-0.
Chicago (4-3) went through a hitting drought, too, but stayed 3½ games behind Philadelphia. Of the Cubs' last 233 hits, 199 have been singles. But Bill Buckner (.323) made his count: he had a pair of run-scoring singles in a 4-2 win over St. Louis, a tie-breaking single to beat the Cardinals 3-2 and a seventh-inning single that capped a two-run rally as the Cubs beat the Expos 6-4. Dave Kingman provided the Cubs with their only home run; it was his 17th, and it followed his 16th by five weeks. Bruce Sutter saved two games, increasing his total to 20 and lowering his ERA to 1.67.
Pittsburgh's (3-3) Dave Parker broke an 0-for-26 slump when he hit his 16th home run and a single in a 5-3 win over the Dodgers as the Pirates broke a seven-game losing streak.
Montreal (4-2) had no hitting woes, but Manager Dick Williams had some unkind things to say about his relievers. On Sunday the explosive Expos set nine and tied seven club records in a 19-0 wipeout of Atlanta. Third Baseman Larry Parrish had three consecutive home runs in that game, and Warren Cromartie batted .565 for the week, hitting safely in all six games. The bullpen, aroused by the manager's discontent, contributed a win, a loss and two saves. But those saves still left the Expos with only 23 for the season—or three less than Rollie Fingers. Steve Rogers won his 12th game, beating the Pirates 4-3, and then signed a six-year contract for an estimated $1.75 million.
New York (2-4) lost its winningest pitcher, Pat Zachry (10-6), for at least three weeks. Zachry, disgusted over a poor pitching performance, had kicked at a helmet, missed and cracked his foot against a dugout step.
St. Louis (1-5) lost to Chicago three more times, making it 12 straight to the Cubs this season. Said Cardinal General Manager Bing Devine, "When teams have a winning season, it's often the case of all their players having good years at the same time. I often wondered what it would be like the other way around. Now I know."
PHIL 57-47 CHI 55-52 PITT 50-54 MONT 52-59 NY 47-64 ST.L 41-68
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
ROLLIE FINGERS: The Padres' reliever saved four games to raise his league-leading total to 26. In 6⅖ innings Fingers struck out eight and allowed only two hits. He has not permitted a run in his last seven outings.