Faster than the Braves (1-6) could say "Gulp!" their nine-game lead had shrunk to 1½. Eight straight losses to the Dodgers (6-1) in 10 days had the Atlantans reeling. L.A. moved into second by beating the Braves four times last week: 3-2 and 5-4 in 10-inning contests; 7-6 when Dusty Baker singled in the 11th, stole second and scored on a pinch-hit single by Mike Marshall; and 2-0 on Sunday as righthander Bob Welch, who beat Cincinnati 4-0 earlier, earned his second win of the week. What's more, San Francisco (7-1) twice stunned Atlanta. Tom O'Malley's two-run homer triggered a four-run ninth that beat the Braves 6-3, and Joe Morgan's single in the ninth nipped them 3-2. Reggie Smith's .591 hitting helped the Giants look 10 feet tall.
Although Ruppert Jones went on the disabled list with a bruised heel, the Padres (4-3) were very much in the race. Keeping them there were Eric Show's 2-0 blanking of Cincinnati and John Montefusco's five-hit, 5-2 victory in Houston. But the Astros (2-6) burned the Padres twice, 6-4 with a five-run eighth and 7-6 on Tony Scott's bases-loaded single in the last of the 11th. Mario Soto of the Reds (2-5) slowed down the Dodgers 5-1.
ATL 62-47 LA 62-50 SD 60-51 SF 57-55 HOUS 48-62 CIN 40-71
"These are the things we are going to need to win the pennant," said Pittsburgh's Mike Easler. What happened was that Mets Leftfielder George Foster was about to catch a foul by Easier when he pulled up short because a ball girl was camped under the ball. Easler's foul dropped untouched, after which he doubled in a run to help the Pirates (4-4) win 7-3. Johnny Ray's two-run triple in the 17th finished off St. Louis 4-2. During that game the Cardinals (3-4) left 24 men on base, three short of the league record.
The Phillies (3-4) also had difficulty scoring. One reason was that they hit .213. Another was that Greg Gross, who was on third, failed to score on Gary Matthews' single in a 4-2 loss to the Cubs. Gross made a belated dash home and was thrown out by Right-fielder Jay Johnstone, who had decoyed him into thinking he was going to catch the ball. On successive days, the Expos intentionally walked George Vukovich to pitch to Manny Trillo, who singled in the decisive run each time as the Phils won 3-2 and 5-4.
But the Phils continued to be tormented in Chicago (5-1), where they lost for the fourth, fifth and sixth straight times. The Cubs won 4-2 and 3-2 on late hits by Bill Buckner, and 8-5 as Johnstone homered twice. The Sunshine Boys frolicked in Wrigley Field, also beating New York 5-0 behind Doug Bird's three-hitter, and 5-1 as Randy Martz yielded only two hits. New York (3-4) salvaged the finale in Chicago with some broad-daylight larceny—six stolen bases—to win 7-4.
Five years after Doug Flynn and Joel Youngblood were traded by the Reds to the Mets in separate deals on the same day, both were dealt to the Expos on the same day—from different teams. Flynn came from Texas to plug the hole at second base for the Expos (3-4). Youngblood became the first player ever to play for two teams in two cities on the same day. After singling in what would be the winning run for the Mets in Chicago Wednesday afternoon, Youngblood learned of his trade in the third inning, caught a flight and arrived in Philadelphia in the third inning that evening, went to rightfield for the Expos in the sixth and singled in the seventh. Tim Wallach had four homers and 10 RBIs.
PHIL 61-47 ST.L 61-49 PITT 58-50 MONT 57-51 NY 48-61 CHI 46-66
"Crowley had informed me that Quisenberry didn't have the same velocity he normally has and that it would behoove me not to swing violently at the ball." That was the way John Lowenstein of the Orioles (5-4) interpreted a tip from teammate Terry Crowley about Royals Reliever Dan Quisenberry. Lowenstein's non-violent swing produced a tie-breaking sacrifice fly in the eighth that beat K.C. 6-5. Lowenstein also used his bat deftly to break another deadlock in the eighth against Boston. With men on first and second, Lowenstein faked a bunt and singled through the spot just vacated by Second Baseman Jerry Remy, giving Baltimore the winning run in a 4-2 victory. That prompted Lowenstein to explain, "The bunt sign was on. But due to the strategic deployment [of the defense], I took it upon myself to swing."
And then there was owner George (When In Doubt, Shout) Steinbrenner of New York (4-5), who fired Gene Michael and installed Clyde King as manager. "If that doesn't work, I am perfectly willing to bite the bullet on some of these big [player] contracts," Steinbrenner said. "If a guy doesn't want to put out for the Yankees, then he can sit home [next season] like a big fat toad."
In Milwaukee (4-2), Rollie Fingers saved three games, raising his total to 26, and Cecil Cooper belted homers 21 through 23. Cooper's two-run blast in the eighth and his RBI single in the 10th toppled the Indians 5-2. But even though Lou Whitaker hit .500 and Glenn Wilson .429, Detroit (4-5) tumbled.
The ineffectiveness of the starting pitchers continued to keep Boston (3-4) bogged down. The starters were pummeled for 43 hits and 28 runs in 34‚Öî innings; since May 23 their ERA has been over 5.00.
No, the Blue Jays (4-5) didn't get their fielding gloves from a Swiss-cheese factory; it just seemed that way as they made eight errors. Despite two miscues by teammates, Dave Stieb was a winner for the fifth time in a row, defeating the Brewers 9-4.
Rick Sutcliffe of Cleveland (4-3) was in a similar groove, giving up only five hits and one earned run while stopping the Rangers 6-2. Sutcliffe was 9-4 with a league-leading 2.74 ERA.
MIL 63-45 BOS 61-48 BALT 59-49 DET 55-54 CLEV 54-53 NY 54-53 TOR 52-58
Get the Hammer out is the slogan on the T shirts Reggie Jackson bought for the Angels (4-3). Although Doug DeCinces was the most persistent hammerer, his five home runs couldn't overcome shoddy California pitching during three losses to Minnesota (3-4).
Eleven home runs—four by George Brett—kept Kansas City (4-4) right on the heels of first-place California. And Frank White hit for the cycle to defeat Detroit 6-5. The most noteworthy of 10 dingers by Chicago (5-2) was Carlton Fisk's three-run drive that knocked off Boston 6-3. In seven games this season against his former Red Sox teammates, Fisk has hit .407 and driven in 10 runs. Although Dave Hostetler didn't join the Rangers (3-6) until late May, he leads the club with 48 RBIs and 19 homers. Last week he had three home runs and eight RBIs.
Rickey Henderson of the A's (5-2) became the first player to steal 100 or more bases in two different seasons. Six thefts by Henderson broke his own league mark and increased his total to 105, with only 14 more needed to break Lou Brock's modern major league mark of 118.
Mike Moore of Seattle (2-5), the first draft pick in 1981, beat Oakland 3-2. In his last four starts, spanning 28‚Öì innings, Moore has yielded nine runs and 17 hits.
CAL 63-47 KC 61-48 CHI 57-51 SEA 54-56 OAK 49-63 TEX 43-65 MINN 38-73
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DOUG DeCINCES: For the first time in his career, the California Angel third baseman hit three home runs in a game—and he did it twice. He had 12 hits in 24 at bats with eight homers and 12 RBIs.