"Everybody's trying to hit five-run homers and throw no-hitters," said Bob Watson during a string of 11 straight losses by the Braves (1-6). It was a broken-bat, two-run pinch single in the eighth at San Diego by Rufino Linares that finally ended that streak, 6-5, with Gene Garber chalking up his 20th save. Meanwhile, the Dodgers (4-3) moved into first and went head-to-head with the surging Giants (5-2) (page 12).
Despite having lost 19 of 32 games since the All-Star break, San Diego (3-4) remained in the running. Garry Templeton's 2-for-25 non-hitting largely accounted for the Padres' .249 batting. And with Ruppert Jones out with a sore right heel, opponents pitched around Sixto Lezcano, walking him nine times last week.
Bill Virdon became the sixth manager to be axed this season when Houston (5-1) replaced him on an interim basis with Bob Lillis, who had been an Astro coach. The finest pitching performance of the week was Nolan Ryan's 3-0 victory in San Diego, in which he yielded only a fifth-inning single to Terry Kennedy. It was Ryan's eighth career one-hitter. When the Astros arrived in Cincinnati (2-4), the Reds' Larry Biittner wore a five-year-old T shirt that read L.A., WE'RE GONNA GET-CHA. Biittner, however, had crossed out Los Angeles and written in Houston. The Reds, who failed to get the Dodgers for the 77 division title, also seemed unlikely to climb past the Astros for fifth place in '82. A day after Frank Pastore beat Houston 3-0, Bob Knepper and Randy Moffitt of the Astros combined to dim Cincy's hopes, 2-0.
LA 66-53 ATL 63-53 SD 63-55 SF 62-57 HOUS 53-63 CIN 42-75
When he was a youngster, Willie McGee of St. Louis (6-1) had to sneak off to play Sunday baseball because his father, a Pentecostal deacon, felt it was wrong to participate in sports on that day. Now playing for all to see any day of the week, McGee upped his average to .319 and helped beat the Mets 7-2 with a bases-loaded triple. That, plus Bruce Sutter's 23rd and 24th saves and Steve Mura's 10th and 11th victories, lifted the Cardinals into the divisional lead.
Faced with nine games last week, the Phillies (5-4) hoped their bullpen would hold up. It didn't. But timely hits were invaluable. George Vukovich's pinch double beat Pittsburgh 4-3, pinch hitter Bill Robinson's single and grand slam during a nine-run eighth stunned Montreal 15-11 and Mike Schmidt's two-out homer with a man on in the ninth zapped the Expos 3-1.
Doug Flynn of Montreal (4-4) is a .238 career hitter. Last week, though, it wasn't a case of "out like Flynn" as he tripled in two runs to defeat Philly 3-2. Warren Cromartie, whose .247 average is 34 points below his career figure, also came through, singling in the ninth to nip the Phils 8-7.
"I'm very superstitious," said Don Robinson of Pittsburgh (2-7), who last touched a rosin bag during the ninth inning of a minor league game in 1977 and promptly lost his no-hitter. Last week the Bucs had 13 hits as Robinson beat St. Louis 7-4 for his 13th victory—on Friday the 13th.
By defeating Chicago 6-4 and 5-4, New York (2-5) avoided dropping into the cellar. Outfielder Ellis Valentine's .500 spree put some life into the Met attack. Before that, the Cubs (5-3) extended their winning streak to six games—their longest in nearly three years—as Leon Durham hit .400, Bill Buckner .371 and Steve Henderson .357. Henderson, who had been riding the bench for six weeks before this, went 7 for 17 against his former Met teammates, also slugging his first two home runs of the season. All three Chicago wins in New York were credited to Reliever Mike Proly.
ST.L 67-50 PHIL 66-51 MONT 61-55 PITT 60-57 NY 50-66 CHI 51-69
After he had tied a team record by walking eight men in one game, Pete Vuckovich of Milwaukee (5-3) reportedly said, "They weren't biting. It's better that way than getting the ball up where they can see the whole sphere when they're attempting to reach out with the wood tool for the purpose of reversing the sphere into certain areas between the white lines, where men aren't standing with gloves on." That sort of explained Vuckovich's 3-1 triumph over the Rangers, 12 of whom he stranded on base. Gorman Thomas walloped five homers to increase his total to 32, tops in the majors. The dingers helped the Brewers move 4½ games ahead of the Red Sox.
Even with Jim Rice batting .350, Boston (2-4) hit only .257. Manager Ralph Houk had bad news for Wade Boggs: Although the rookie was hitting .354, he would pinch-hit rather than play third (where Houk put Carney Lansford) or at first (where he put Dave Stapleton).
Toronto (5-3) swept Boston 4-2, 4-0 and 4-3. Dave Stieb, who shut out the Bosox on two hits, improved his record to 13-11 when Anthony Johnson's two-run triple in the ninth beat the Brewers 4-2. Along the way, the Blue Jays tied a team mark with their second six-game winning streak in four weeks.
Mike Flanagan of Baltimore (1-5) gave up hits to the first five Boston batters he faced, and was out of what became a 5-2 loss. In 21 innings against the Red Sox this year, Flanagan has been peppered for 25 hits and 15 runs. Lary Sorensen of Cleveland (1-5) continued to be hammered by Kansas City: In nine innings he has been tagged for 28 hits and 18 runs. Other Indian pitchers did little better: K.C. batters hit .336 against the Tribe while taking 10 of 12 games this season.
Lou Whitaker of Detroit (3-3), a .263 hitter during his first five seasons in the majors, has been on a .375 tear since becoming the leadoff man in early July. Whitaker hit .393 last week and, what's more surprising for someone who never before had more than five homers and 58 RBIs in a season, he twice hit two home runs in a game and had nine RBIs. Whitaker, who weighs only 155 pounds, even homered into the upper deck in right center at Tiger Stadium. All of which left him with a .302 average, 11 homers and 52 RBIs for the year.
New York (2-5) climbed out of a 7-0 hole in Detroit to win 9-7 with a three-homer barrage. Two more home runs and Goose Gossage's 23rd save beat Chicago 4-3.
MIL 68-48 BOS 63-52 BALT 60-54 DET 58-57 NY 56-58 CLEV 55-58 TOR 57-61
Last season Mike Witt of the Angels (3-3) caused hitters to wince only because he plunked 11 of them with pitches. This year, though, Witt is putting the hurt on batters by throwing pitches they're finding increasingly hard to hit. The A's got only four hits off Witt last week as he blanked them 9-0. That gave Witt, who's 6'7" and 185 pounds and has just turned 22, a 7-3 record and a 3.03 ERA. And then there was Luis Tiant, who is eight inches shorter and a few pounds heavier than Witt and will soon be 42 (or so). Tiant went seven innings and won for the first time this season since coming up from the Mexican League three weeks ago, beating the Twins 3-1 with the aid of Reggie Jackson's two-run pinch double in the eighth. Doug DeCinces cooled off but in that game slammed his 11th homer in his last 13 outings. Desperate for bullpen help, Manager Gene Mauch used Dave Goltz in relief. Goltz allowed only one hit in 2‚Öî innings as he preserved Geoff Zahn's 6-3 victory over Minnesota.
By putting his shoulder to the task, Larry Gura helped put Kansas City (5-1) in first. Said Gura, explaining the problem he rectified, "I was too straight when I let the ball go. I watched several pitchers and saw they all did something I always did before—lift the lead shoulder at the last second to drive the pitching arm farther downward. My curves were flat. Now they're breaking well again." Gura's curves broke well enough for him to baffle Cleveland 12-2 and Detroit 1-0.
LaMarr Hoyt of Chicago (6-1) joined Gura as the league's first 14-game winners by handcuffing New York 6-0 on three hits. Greg Luzinski's hitting and, of all things, base running aroused the White Sox. A long home run by Luzinski touched off a six-run rally during a 9-5 victory over the Orioles. The Bull's three-run, checked-swing double was the big hit as Chicago dumped Baltimore 9-4. And in a 4-1 win over the Birds, Luzinski had three hits, slid hard into second to break up a double play and enable a run to score, legged out an infield single, advanced from first to third on a base hit to left, and stretched a liner to left into a double.
Tidy relief pitching, clutch hits and opponents' miscues added up to three more comeback victories for the Mariners (4-2), who now have 31 for the season. A three-run eighth that jolted Minnesota 3-1 began with a Twins error and ended with a two-run pinch single by Dave Revering.
Apparently wearied by his record-setting base-stealing pace, Rickey Henderson of the A's (3-3) went through a two-week 0-for-29 slump. But Henderson had four steals, giving him 109 in 118 games, nine shy of Lou Brock's modern single-season mark. Matt Keough, a 15-game loser, won for the 10th time when he beat California 10-1.
Terry Felton of the Twins (2-4), though, kept losing. Two defeats (6-3 to the Angels and 10-2 to the Mariners) left him 0-12 for the season and 0-15 for his career, breaking a major league record set in 1914 by Cleveland's Guy Morton. Bobby Castillo, a reliever for most of his six seasons, hurled the first complete game of his career when he defeated Seattle 3-1.
Although unaccustomed to rallying for victories, the Rangers (3-3) did so three times. A four-run seventh toppled Milwaukee 6-3, and a three-run ninth turned what had been a 7-2 deficit into an 8-7 win over Cleveland. John Butcher was a 3-2 winner over the Indians as Texas scored twice in the seventh and won in the ninth on Larry Parrish's homer.
KC 66-49 CAL 66-50 CHI 63-52 SEA 58-58 OAK 52-66 TEX 46-68 MINN 40-77
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
AL OLIVER: The 35-year-old Expo first baseman had three doubles among his 12 hits in 27 at bats (.444) and drove across 12 runs. That spurt put him first in the league with 83 RBIs and a .324 average.