Dennis Eckersley of the Red Sox (3-1) attributed his improved pitching to his wife. Rick Miller was able to attribute some of his success to another player's wife. "I'm a more settled person since I got married," said Eckersley, who got hitched two years ago. He stopped the Royals 7-3 for his 10th victory. As for Miller, he was a late replacement for Reid Nichols, who sped off to the hospital because his wife was giving birth to their first child. Miller's third hit that day, a three-run triple, broke a 2-2 tie as Boston beat K.C. 8-4. Dwight Evans kept up his hot streak with .375 hitting and six RBIs. Over his last 24 games Evans batted .352 and drove in 27 runs.
In the manner of Joe Page of the Yankees during the late '40s, Jim Slaton of the Brewers (5-0) came out of the bullpen by vaulting over a 10-foot-high fence. Summoned because Pete Vuckovich had been hit on his pitching hand by a liner, Slaton went the final 7‚Öì innings to stop Chicago 8-4. Milwaukee rallied for three wins, all of which were wrapped up by Rollie Fingers, who has 21 saves.
It was all part of a week in which the East was 24-5 against the West. Three home runs helped Toronto (4-0) defeat Texas 5-1. And Damaso Garcia's three steals and Joey McLaughlin's last-out relief helped Jim Clancy saddle the Rangers with a 6-0 loss.
Three consecutive three-homer games got Detroit (3-1) untracked in Minnesota. Lance Parrish hit one in each of those contests and batted .467 for the week. Others who padded their numbers were Lou Whitaker (.400) and Larry Herndon (nine RBIs).
Two-run homers were the winning ticket for the Yankees (4-0) against the A's. New York won 2-1 on such a blast in the eighth by Graig Nettles and prevailed 4-1 as Jerry Mumphrey and Bobby Murcer connected.
Six of 11 Indians (2-2) scored after drawing walks against the Angels, enabling the Tribe to overcome a 4-0 deficit and win 10-4.
Manager Earl Weaver of Baltimore (3-1), who hadn't been given the thumb all season, got it for the second and third times in eight days. That raised Weaver's career total to 84 ejections. Ken Singleton's seven ribbies finished off the Mariners 8-4 and 4-3, and gave him 59 in 57 career games against them.
MIL 53-35 BOS 52-37 BALT 47-39 DET 45-42 NY 43-42 CLEV 43-43 TOR 41-47
"I'm swinging the way I did during eight years in Boston," said Fred Lynn of California (2-2). Lynn's memory may have been off a bit—he spent only six full years with the Red Sox—but his stats were impressive: a .429 average and eight RBIs last week. That left Lynn with a .337 average and 25 RBIs in the past 25 games. Last season Lynn, who had been a .308 hitter for Boston, batted .219. Dave Goltz continued his comeback with a three-hitter, and Ken Forsch tossed a four-hitter. Both were victors in Cleveland as they benefited from big-inning outbursts: a six-run third helped Goltz coast 8-2; a 10-run fifth enabled Forsch to win 15-0. Thus, the front-running Angels pulled ahead of the Royals by three lengths.
Seven doubles by Kansas City (1-3) couldn't avert a 5-3 loss in Boston, and four Royal homers in Fenway couldn't keep the Red Sox from winning 8-4. In the latter game, Dan Quisenberry endured his worst inning in four years in the majors: He muffed two fielding plays and gave up seven consecutive hits and seven runs in 1‚Öî innings.
Chicago (0-5) lost three games in the eighth as the bullpen collapsed. The third of those defeats went to Salome Barojas, who was tagged for three runs as Milwaukee won 5-3. Barojas, who allowed only six earned runs in his first 32‚Öî innings this year, has given up 21 in his last 27‚Öî.
To try to toughen the skin on the middle finger of his pitching hand, Mike Norris of the A's (0-4) soaks the digit in a pickle-juice solution. After five scoreless innings in New York, though, Norris had to leave because the finger had blistered anyway, and Oakland went on to lose 2-1.
Gaylord Perry of Seattle (1-3) was shelled again—during his last 42‚Öî innings, he has been roughed up for 65 hits and 34 earned runs. But Floyd Bannister ended a four-game Mariner skid when he beat the Orioles 6-0 on two hits. Until then, Seattle had been 2-10 against Dennis Martinez and 5-23 in Baltimore since entering the league in 1977.
The Rangers (0-4) began the second half with brave talk of a new season, a new attitude. After three losses to Toronto, however, Manager Don Zimmer said, "I want to cry."
Ten wins in their previous 13 outings had brightened the outlook for the Twins (1-3). But before their first at bat after the All-Star lull that brightness had faded: The Tigers scored 11 times in the top of the first. That day's 18-2 shellacking was followed by a 6-3 setback in which Detroit scored a run after a bases-empty strikeout that should have ended the inning. Alan Trammell fanned on what turned out to be a wild pitch by Frank Viola, and ran to first base. Lou Whitaker, the next batter, then tripled.
CAL 51-39 KC 48-40 CHI 45-42 SEA 46-44 OAK 38-54 TEX 35-50 MINN 29-62
Not since Mark (the Bird) Fidrych has there been a more animated pitcher than newcomer Jeff Lahti of St. Louis (3-1). While on the mound, Lahti applauds his fielders and vigorously thumps the ball in his glove as he prepares to pitch. Recently, after covering first for an out, he started to peg the ball around the infield and his throw to the second baseman almost hit the wall in center. "I try to keep myself pumped up, but I'm not conscious of my actions," Lahti said. "On the mound, I'm a monster. Maybe it's my second being. They say there are two sides to everybody." Lahti earned his first big league victory when he allowed only one hit and one run in 3½ innings of relief as he knocked off the Reds 6-4.
Pitchers have been keeping the ball in on Dave Parker of Pittsburgh (1-3), figuring that with his bad right wrist he won't be able to pull. Aware of that, Parker wanted to be sure Houston's Frank LaCorte would pitch him inside, so he acted as if his wrist was paining him badly. LaCorte fell for it, and Parker slammed a three-run homer that defeated the Astros 5-1.
Mike Schmidt of Philadelphia (3-1), who has reconciled himself to playing the rest of the season with a sore right hamstring, homered in the eighth and doubled in two runs in the 11th to topple the Giants 5-3. Other gamers against San Francisco were stroked by Gary Matthews, a homer in the eighth, and Garry Maddox, a single that made Steve Carlton a 1-0 winner. For Maddox, it was the seventh time in his last eight chances that he has come through with a runner on third and fewer than two outs. Manny Trillo set a major league mark for second basemen by extending his streak of errorless chances to 427.
Chris Speier spoke up about backstabbing and "a definite lack of unity" among the Expos (4-0). "He was only saying the obvious," Steve Rogers said. Al Oliver took a different tack: "It's not [Manager] Jim Fanning's fault. I almost feel sorry for him. He's too good a person to be a manager." Nevertheless, for the first time in a month, Montreal won more than two games in a row, taking four straight in San Diego.
Four homers by Dave Kingman of the Mets (2-2) put him first in the majors with 25. One of Kingman's home runs helped Charlie Puleo win 5-2 in Los Angeles.
In 1938, Gabby Hartnett's "homer in the gloamin' " won the pennant for the Chicago Cubs (1-3). In 1982, after a long rain delay, Jay Johnstone came to bat at 8:05 p.m. and in the twilight of Wrigley Field singled in the 10th inning to defeat Atlanta 4-3.
PHIL 50-39 ST.L 51-40 MONT 47-42 PITT 45-43 NY 42-49 CHI 37-56
"It doesn't take much to see that we're having some problems," said Dick Wagner, president and chief executive officer of last-place Cincinnati (1-3), in the understatement of the year. Wagner may have contributed to the lackluster play of the Reds by ordering Manager John McNamara to make three lineup changes: Tom Lawless, a speedster who was batting .308 at Indianapolis, was brought up to bat leadoff and play second; Duane Walker, who was hitting .296, was replaced in rightfield by Paul Householder, a .188 batter; and Third Baseman Wayne Krenchicki, merely the team's most productive hitter immediately before the All-Star break, was benched, with Ron Oester moving over from second base. In the first four games of this experiment Lawless went 2 for 18, Householder 5 for 15 and Oester 3 for 16—a combined .204 average.
Two other teams bumbled along: the Giants and Padres. San Francisco (1-3) lost despite the heroics of 38-year-old Joe Morgan, who played like a youngster scrambling for a job. Morgan hit .444 and went 5 for 6 during a 5-3 loss to the Phils. On Sunday, Morgan slammed his eighth home run of the season and San Francisco rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to overtake Philadelphia 4-3. The winning uprising was built around a base on balls, a single by Reggie Smith, an error that let in the tying run and then—with two outs—a pinch hit, run-scoring double by Duane Kuiper. The Padres (0-4) added a few pages to the 1001 Ways to Lose Painfully manual. Ruppert Jones struck out eight times in a row. A 4-3 loss to Montreal was more of a team effort, as San Diego made a base-running blunder, failed to cover first in a bunt situation and stranded 10 men.
No such ineptitude afflicted the Braves (3-1), who built the biggest edge of any divisional leader by moving four games in front of the Padres. Even when three regulars—Bob Horner, Larry Whisenton and Bruce Benedict—were given the day off, Atlanta pummeled Chicago 9-4.
Hits both short and long by Dusty Baker and Ron Cey twice carried the Dodgers (2-2) past the Mets. Two-run singles in the ninth by Baker and Cey jolted New York 6-5. And in a 7-6 victory, Fernando Valenzuela became the first 13-game winner in the majors, thanks to home runs by Baker and Cey plus some dandy relief by Steve Howe. Howe's three innings of one-hit ball lowered his ERA for his last 28 appearances to 0.57. During that stretch the Los Angeles lefthander has hurled a total of 47‚Öî innings and has been credited with eight saves and four wins.
For Houston (3-1), it was the starting pitchers who provided the relief. With the bullpen in sad shape, the Astros were given a boost when Nolan Ryan, Joe Niekro and Bob Knepper pitched complete-game victories. Ryan whiffed 11 Pirates, gave up only six hits and won 4-2. After going 10 innings against Pittsburgh in the Astrodome, Niekro was removed for pinch hitter Harry Spilman, who walloped a home run for a 4-3 win. Knepper defeated the Bucs 4-2 on Sunday with a five-hitter.
ATL 54-34 SD 50-40 LA 48-44 SF 43-49 HOUS 40-49 CIN 34-56
BALL PARK FIGURES
In response to an SI poll, major-leaguers rated the following players as the biggest hot dogs in the game today:
1. Derrel Thomas, Dodgers
2. Al Hrabosky, Braves
3. Jay Johnstone, Cubs
4. Joaquin Andujar, Cardinals
5. Tug McGraw, Phillies
1. Rickey Henderson, A's
2. Julio Cruz, Mariners
3. Reggie Jackson, Angels
4. Mike Norris, A's
5. Dan Ford, Orioles
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JIM GANTNER: The Milwaukee second baseman returned to action after missing a month with a bad shoulder and helped the Brewers stay in first place by hitting .733 (7 for 15) and driving across four runs.