A couple "waiters"—Tommy Boggs and Bob Watson—served up wins that helped the Braves (4-3) establish a 1½-game lead. Boggs, who had waited since April 20 for a start in the majors, having been dispatched to the minors because of arm trouble, went six strong innings against Philadelphia. After Boggs had held the Phillies to only three singles. Gene Garber went the final three innings to wrap up a 3-0 victory. Garber got his 27th save the next day by pitching the last two innings in relief of Rick Camp during a 4-0 shutout of the Phils. Steve Bedrosian also excelled in relief as he hurled 7‚Öî scoreless innings while saving a 4-3 triumph in Montreal and winning 11-9 in Philly. It was in the latter contest that Watson, who had taken batting practice at 4:45 p.m., ended almost eight hours of waiting before batting again. When Watson finally took a cut, it was in the 12th inning of the nightcap of a doubleheader and 12:35 a.m. Although he might have been more ready for a snooze than a swing, Watson slugged a three-run pinch homer to provide Atlanta with its margin of victory.
Like Boggs and Watson, Burt Hooton of Los Angeles (2-4) endured a long wait. Hooton, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on June 21, won for the first time in more than four months when he defeated St. Louis 2-1 with relief help from Steve Howe. Home attendance passed three million on Sunday, putting the Dodgers on target to surpass their own major league record of 3,347,845, set in 1978.
For the first time since June 1976, the Padres (4-2) had three consecutive complete-game victories. Juan Eichelberger began the string by beating Pittsburgh 4-1. The next two triumphs were against Chicago, Eric Show winning 3-0 with a five-hitter and Tim Lollar adding a 4-1 three-hitter. San Diego pitchers were so effective they held opponents to .202 hitting for the week. Dave Dravecky gave up only one run and five hits in 11 innings, but wasn't around when Joe Lefebvre walloped a home run in the 13th to beat Pittsburgh 2-1.
An even more dramatic home run was the one by Jack Clark of the Giants (4-1), who slammed his with two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth to stun the Cardinals 5-4. That was the second night in a row that San Francisco hung a loss on Reliever Bruce Sutter. The evening before, the Giants had won 3-2 in the 10th inning when Chili Davis tripled and Darrell Evans brought him home by hitting a sacrifice fly.
Nolan Ryan of Houston (2-4), whose fastball was clocked at as high as 94 mph, came within five outs of his sixth no-hitter. After New York's Ron Hodges singled in the bottom of the eighth, Ryan went on to finish a two-hit, 4-0 victory.
"He's a godsend," said Frank Pastore of the Reds (2-4) about rookie Brad Lesley. It was Lesley who pitched the last inning of Pastore's 1-0 shutout of the Mets. That stretched Lesley's string of innings without giving up an earned run to 19 and lowered his ERA to a dazzling 0.74.
ATL 76-60 LA 75-62 SD 71-66 SF 69-67 HOUS 63-73 CIN 52-84
Zip. Whoosh. Swish. Zing. Whiz. That was Lonnie Smith of St. Louis (2-4) on his way to tying a league record by stealing five bases in one game, a 5-4 loss to San Francisco. Smith batted .435 for the week and had six steals, giving him 62. But the burst of speed that meant the most came when Smith chased down a ball hit by Dave (brother of Steve) Sax of the Dodgers. Smith's catch with two on in the 13th sealed a 6-5 Cardinal victory. The save went to Jim Kaat, 43, who had earlier won a battle of Methuselahs by retiring pinch-swinger Manny Mota, 44, an L.A. coach who was activated when rosters expanded to 40 players on Sept. 1. One of the key hits for St. Louis that night came when newcomer Kelly Paris singled off Ricky Wright, who's from Paris, Texas.
With Mike Schmidt slugging three homers and with Dick Ruthven and Steve Carlton pitching superbly, Philadelphia (4-3) hung tough. Ruthven cooled off Atlanta 6-1 on a three-hitter. And Carlton fanned 12 Astros, gave up only two hits and won 2-1 when Schmidt homered in the last of the ninth. On Sunday, Schmidt, who batted .407 for the week, hit his 30th tater as the Phillies beat the Astros 4-3 and pulled to within half a game of the division-leading Cardinals.
Montreal and Pittsburgh continued their prolonged scuffle for third place. The Expos (4-2) were aided by Jeff Reardon's three saves. Steve Rogers (16-7) defeated the Reds 3-1 and the Braves 2-1. Randy Lerch, only the second Montreal lefty to start a game since last October, throttled Cincy 2-1. Half an hour's notice was all that newcomer Lee Tunnell of the Pirates (3-3) had before starting in place of John Candelaria, who had an inflamed shoulder. Tunnell, a 21-year-old righthander who went to Baylor, went seven innings against L.A. yielded four hits and wound up a 1-0 winner after Rod Scurry and Kent Tekulve got the final six outs.
Lee Smith of Chicago (2-3) gained his ninth save in six weeks in a 7-6 triumph over San Francisco. During his streak, Smith pitched 17‚Öî innings and had an earned run average of 1.02.
There was joy in Mudville: The Mets (3-3) ended a 15-game losing streak when Pete Falcone beat the Astros 5-1. But there was also another painful loss—1-0 to Cincinnati when rookie Rick Ownbey balked home the game's only run in the fourth inning.
ST.L 76-59 PHIL 76-60 MONT 73-63 PITT 72-64 CHI 60-77 NY 53-81
Tommy John was obtained last week by California (2-4) from the Yankees for three players to be named later. As the Angels rode to Milwaukee County Stadium for a game, one of John's new teammates called out, "There's your movie" as the team bus passed a movie theater where Escape From New York was playing. Although John defeated the Brewers 5-2, California couldn't escape second place. Geoff Zahn (15-6) won an 11-O laugher over Detroit as Brian Downing drove in five runs and walloped two homers. Downing equaled an American League record that day by leading off the game with a home run for the sixth time this season.
Kansas City (2-4) remained first even though Hal McRae, who leads the majors with 115 RBIs, drove in only one run. Amos Otis was fined an undisclosed amount and suspended for five days for throwing his bat three times while being struck out in the sixth inning by Mike Smithson of Texas. In the third inning, Smithson had hit Frank White on the left elbow with a pitch and had conked Otis on the back of his helmet. Smithson went on to win 7-3. Charlie Hough of the Rangers (3-4) gave the Royals an even rougher time, prevailing 6-0 on a three-hitter.
It was a day of vindication when Gaylord Perry of Seattle (2-4) beat Boston, and Bill Caudill went the final two innings to preserve the 4-3 victory. During Perry's previous outing against the Red Sox he had been ejected for supposedly doctoring the ball. Caudill ended the game with a strikeout of Reid Nichols, who two weeks earlier had hit game-deciding homers off him on successive nights.
"If we're dead, how come we're still living?" asked Rich Dotson of the White Sox (6-1), who had been prematurely interred by skeptics. Dotson helped resuscitate his team by running his string of victories to seven with a 4-1 defeat of Cleveland and a 4-0 triumph over Texas. Also alive and well were Jerry Koosman, whose four-hitter took care of the Indians 6-0; Jim Kern, whose 5‚Öì hitless innings got him two saves and a win; and Greg Luzinski, who batted .583, homered three times and drove in 10 runs.
The A's and Twins, however, were in poor health. A 4-3 triumph over Detroit by Jim Norris kept Oakland (1-5) breathing, if barely. While others stocked their rosters with youngsters from the bushes, the A's eschewed doing so because all six of their farm clubs were involved in playoffs. Going into last week, Minnesota (1-5) had been 31-28 since June 23. But last week the Twins went five straight games without a homer, their longest such drought of the season, and lost four of those games.
KC 78-58 CAL 76-60 CHI 72-63 SEA 63-72 OAK 59-78 TEX 53-82 MINN 48-87
Weaverbirds often build so many nests in a single tree that they cause it to topple. Earl Weaver's Birds (6-0) kept adding wins, and although the Orioles were unable to topple the first-place Brewers, they moved up to a second-place nest. Jim Palmer, who hadn't pitched a shutout in four years, hurled two in a row as he increased his total career victories to 261. Dennis Martinez beat Toronto 5-2 for his 14th triumph, and Mike Flanagan defeated Minnesota with the aid of his rediscovered changeup. That game was enlivened by a belly dancer in the Memorial Stadium stands. "I knew the crowd wasn't cheering for me," Flanagan said. Storm Davis drew some cheers of his own by winning once as a starter and once as a reliever.
Dwight Evans of Boston (5-1) wrapped up a prodigious month of slugging with three homers during August's final two games. That gave Evans 11 dingers and 27 RBIs in 30 August games. Red Sox starters were pounded, except for Chuck Rainey, who shut out Oakland 4-0, and Dennis Eckersley, who reinjured his biceps and had to leave after throwing only four pitches, during Boston's 4-3 loss to Seattle.
There was bad news in Milwaukee (5-3), too: Rollie Fingers suffered a slight muscle tear in his right forearm and was expected to be out for a week. Don Sutton, acquired from the Astros for three minor-leaguers, was a 4-2 loser in his first starting assignment for the Brewers. Sutton was two outs from a 2-1 win when Von Hayes hit a three-run homer that snapped an eight-game losing streak for Cleveland (3-5).
Toronto (1-5), which lost three one-run games, dropped six of eight outings since catalyst Damaso Garcia was shelved with an injured left wrist. Two home runs by Lance Parrish and six innings of one-hit relief by Aurelio Lopez carried Detroit (4-2) past California 6-3. Jack Morris picked up his 15th victory on Sunday when his two-hitter did in Oakland 8-1. The Yankees (4-2) remained in a virtual tie for fourth with the Tigers. Shane Rawley and Ron Guidry both won twice, and Graig Nettles and Dave Winfield slammed game-deciding homers in the ninth. Lou Piniella had seven hits in a row and batted .563. The Bombers unloaded en masse during Sunday's 18-7 clobbering of Kansas City, with Roy Smalley connecting for a pair of three-run homers and Winfield adding two more over-the-fence drives as he drove across four runs. A case of mistaken identity by Right-fielder Ken Griffey led to an inside-the-park home run for Willie Wilson of the Royals. After retrieving Wilson's drive down the line, Griffey threw the ball to a figure he thought was cutoff man Willie Randolph. Alas, it was umpire Terry Cooney, and there was no way he was going to gun down Wilson.
MIL 81-55 BALT 76-58 BOS 76-59 DET 69-65 NY 69-65 CLEV 64-69 TOR 62-75
BALL PARK FIGURES
According to an SI poll of big league players, these words and phrases are the newest additions to the game's lexicon:
When a struggling hitter pulls his average above .200, he has "crossed the Mendoza Line," so named for former major-leaguer Mario Mendoza, whose career average (1974-81) was .216.
A "yakker" or an "Uncle Charlie" or the "yellow hammer" all describe a fine curve; "good cheese" is a blurring fastball.
A ball that "hits metal" has been misplayed by the fielder.
When a pitcher is "bridged" he has allowed a home run.
"If you're waving at me, howdy," is said to a player who strikes out swinging.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
JIM PALMER: The Oriole righthander beat the Twins 3-0 on one hit and the Blue Jays 1-0 on four hits as he ran his winning streak to 11 games, cut his ERA to 3.24 and upped his record to 13-3.