Keith Hernandez of St. Louis (4-2) was having trouble hitting the ball, so he hit the bottle. "I drank two bottles of wine and stayed up till 5 a.m. watching old movies," Hernandez explained. "It's a once-a-year thing for me." Since swigging, Hernandez has been stroking wine—make that line—drives. With Hernandez batting .348 and Lonnie Smith .400, the Cardinals won three of five one-run games and clung to first place.
Victories were hard to come by for the Phillies (3-3). They were on the verge of being blanked for the second day in a row in Houston when ninth-inning hits by Mike Schmidt, Garry Maddox and George Vukovich knotted the score at 3-3. Philly won 5-3 in the 15th as Gary Matthews and Bo Diaz drove in runs. Overall, Maddox had 11 RBIs. Dick Ruthven had to survive four rain delays totaling two hours and 54 minutes before beating Cincinnati 9-2.
Nine RBIs by Andre Dawson and seven by Gary Carter helped Montreal (4-3). But Ray Burris dropped to 0-11 as a starter (he's 4-2 as a reliever) when he lost to Houston 5-3.
Pitching carried the Pirates (4-2), who gave up only one run in each of four games. Rick Rhoden's two-hitter took care of the Giants 4-1, and Mike Easler's eighth-inning homer knocked off the Dodgers 2-1. Easler again scored the winning run during Sunday's 4-3 triumph over Los Angeles after he had singled in the bottom of the 14th.
Three extra-inning losses put the Mets (0-6) in the cellar. Errors led to a pair of defeats, one miscue coming on what should have been the final out of a 1-0 victory in Atlanta. Following that 10th-inning error, Pat Zachry issued a bases-loaded walk and then kicked his glove from the mound to third base as Jerry Royster trotted home with the run that made the Braves 2-1 winners.
Ferguson Jenkins' 272nd win, 8-2 over the Dodgers, pulled the Cubs (3-3) up to fifth place. Bill Buckner, who batted .500, had four hits in that contest.
ST.L 71-52 PHIL 68-54 MONT 65-58 PITT 64-59 CHI 54-72 NY 50-72
Optimism was rampant, even among the Reds (5-2). Mario Soto beat the Mets 9-2 on a four-hitter and 15 strikeouts. Dave Concepcion hit .433, Duane Walker .467 and Larry Biittner .500. Cesar Cede√±o became the 10th player in major league history to steal 500 bases. And when Ron Oester saw New York Third Baseman Hubie Brooks charging in, he disdained the bunt sign and slugged a two-run homer in the 10th for a 3-1 victory.
Atlanta (4-3) won a game even though its scheduled starting pitcher didn't show up until after game time. Seems that Pascual Perez, who had just that afternoon received his driver's license, couldn't find his way to the ball park. Nor could Perez, a Dominican who speaks little English, understand the directions he got. What should have been a 20-minute ride became a three-hour-and-20-minute excursion on I-285. Phil Niekro started in Perez' place and stopped Montreal 5-4, the first of four straight wins for Atlanta, which had lost 19 of 21. Reliever Gene Garber saved three of those games, including Sunday's 10-9 defeat of the Mets in which the Braves came from behind four times.
Jerry Reuss of first-place Los Angeles (3-3) was late for his start in Chicago—sort of—because the Wednesday game couldn't begin until after the finish of Tuesday's contest, which had been halted by darkness at 1-1 after 17 innings. The Dodgers used all 25 players in that game, including Fernando Valenzuela in both rightfield and leftfield. Reuss took the mound in the 18th and won 2-1 when Steve Sax doubled, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly in the top of the 21st. Reuss then started the regularly scheduled game, went five innings and won 7-4. Valenzuela muzzled Pittsburgh 1-0 two days later on two singles.
Big innings buoyed the Giants (2-4), whose nine-run fifth toppled the Pirates 16-9. San Francisco also jarred St. Louis, overcoming a seventh-inning 7-0 deficit and pulling out an 8-7 victory. Jack Clark batted .471 and Jeff Leonard had three homers and 11 RBIs.
Tim Lollar of the Padres (2-4), whose slider had flattened out, went to work on his curve and used it to stop the Cubs 2-0. Houston (5-3) was led by Vern Ruhle, who blanked Philadelphia 2-0, and Dickie Thon, who may not be as animated as Tron but has hit in 28 of 30 games. Nolan Ryan won for the eighth time in his last nine decisions, beating Montreal 5-3 on a five-hitter.
LA 69-56 ATL 67-56 SD 65-59 SF 64-61 HOUS 57-66 CIN 47-77
Some odd things happened in Toronto: The Blue Jays (2-4) climbed out of the basement for a few hours, and a game was delayed five minutes because of sunlight. By beating Cleveland 2-1, Toronto moved up to sixth. It was the latest point in any of their six seasons that the Jays had been so high in the standings. But a doubleheader loss to the Indians the next day put the Jays back in last place. It was during the first of those two games that First Baseman Willie Upshaw dropped a routine throw because the sun got in his eyes. Unlike every other major league park, home plate at Exhibition Stadium is in the southwest, rather than the northwest, corner of the diamond. It was after Upshaw's error that time was called until the sun's glare was reduced. Cleveland (4-2) took that twin bill 6-5 and 9-5, Andre Thornton's homer in the ninth settling the opener. Rick Manning's .571 hitting and two wins by Rick Sutcliffe (11-4) also perked up the Indians.
Rollie Fingers' sore right elbow had the Brewers (4-2) justifiably worried. But nine days' rest and two cortisone shots restored Fingers to good health and enabled him to notch his 28th save.
The Orioles (4-3), however, were still concerned about the tendinitis in Scott McGregor's left shoulder. McGregor lasted only 12 pitches during a 9-3 loss to Minnesota, giving up hits to all five men he faced.
Troubles also hounded the Red Sox (3-4). Jim Rice reinjured his back. Dennis Eckersley got a muscle spasm in his pitching arm when he threw a sidearm breaking ball. And Bob Ojeda went on the disabled list after pulling a muscle in his left leg when he slipped in the shower. After an all-night flight from Boston to California, the Sox suffered a 10-2 drubbing at the hands of old friend Luis Tiant.
Chet Lemon homered twice and drove in all the Tiger runs as Detroit (4-3) beat Seattle 3-2. Lemon hit another dinger in a 3-1 win over the Mariners for Jack Morris (14-11). Four round-trippers by Dave Winfield and .400 hitting by Ken Griffey bolstered the Yankees (5-2).
MIL 72-50 BOS 66-56 BALT 64-57 DET 62-60 NY 61-60 CLEV 59-60 TOR 59-65
Instead of the usual nameplate above Luis Tiant's locker, there's a sign that reads: B.C.? Surely, Tiant isn't that old even if his birth date, which he insists is Nov. 23, 1940, is a bit dubious. Whatever his age, the venerable Tiant continued to give the Angels (5-2) a lift in their battle for the divisional lead with the Royals (page 22). After fanning eight Red Sox in eight innings and winning 10-2, Tiant had a 2-1 record, 2.95 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 18 innings during his latest comeback. California also got a charge out of its 13 home runs, Rod Carew's .500 hitting and Fred Lynn's 10 RBIs. Tiant was backed by five homers, as was Geoff Zahn (14-5), who defeated Oakland 8-4 and Detroit 13-1.
Lacking such fence-busters, Manager Billy Martin of the A's (4-3) tried to knock down some walls himself—in the clubhouse. Although the second of two 10-6 losses to Milwaukee in three days ended at 4 p.m., Martin didn't leave the park until midnight, taking out his frustrations by pounding on the walls. He showed up the next day with three injured fingers swathed in bandages. "I'm getting smarter," said the man who once decked a marshmallow salesman. "I finally hit something that can't sue me."
Rene Lachemann of Seattle (1-6) was another manager with cause to be upset: 10 of his players were injured or ill. The unkindest cut of all was the one suffered by Third Baseman Dave Edler, who needed five stitches in his right ear after being struck by a bad-hop grounder. And despite holding the Brewers without a homer for two days, the Mariners lost 6-5 and 3-2.
There were groans in Chicago (2-5), too. Britt Burns (13-4) was sidelined by a strained shoulder. And there was a painful 4-3 setback to the Rangers after the White Sox, who were within one strike of losing, tied the game 1-1 and went in front 3-1 in the 11th. Dave Hostetler of Texas (2-4) spoiled that rally with a three-run homer—his 22nd—in the bottom of the 11th to jolt the Sox 4-3. Buddy Bell had a .435 week at the plate.
After being 0-10 in extra-inning contests, Minnesota (3-3) finally won one. A two-out, two-run double in the ninth by Dave Engle pulled the Twins into a 4-4 tie with the Orioles, who then went ahead 5-4 in the 10th. Down but not out of it, Minnesota prevailed 6-5 when Kent Hrbek doubled in a run and then scored on Mickey Hatcher's single' in the bottom of the 10th. Bobby Castillo struck out 10 as he breezed past Baltimore 9-3 with the aid of home runs by Gary Ward (his 21st), Gary Gaetti (20th) and Tom Brunansky, whose 16th was part of his .455 week.
KC 70-53 CAL 71-52 CHI 65-57 SEA 59-64 OAK 56-69 TEX 48-72 MINN 43-80
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
GOOSE GOSSAGE: The Yankee reliever whiffed six men and yielded only two hits in 6‡°© innings as he ran his total saves to 27 by sealing four wins—2-0 and 4-3 over K.C. and 4-2 and 3-1 over Toronto.