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People keep asking how the Rangers stay in the race despite
pitching problems. During their last 10 games, Ranger starters
allowed 42 earned runs in 45 1/3 innings and they still won 7 of 10
games. . . . Cincinnati's Mario Soto went from May 22 to Aug. 5
without a victory. He was on the disabled list twice and made only
six starts. When he returned to the Reds' roster the second time he
was throwing only in the mid-80s, far from his norm, and when he
finally won, he pitched only five innings and allowed four runs.
''That can't be the same Mario,'' said his former catcher, Alex
Trevino. ''It seems as if something hurts. The velocity isn't there.
He's using a slider more than I remember.'' Soto gave up four of
the Dodgers' five runs in a shutout loss. . . . Dennis Leonard is
winless in his last 10 starts, and his courageous comeback may be
over. The Royals likely won't renew their $800,000-a-year options
on him for 1987 and '88. ''I'd like to play again, but only here in
Kansas City,'' says Leonard. ''I don't want to go anyplace else.'' .
. . There are growing reports of strain on Houston manager Hal
Lanier, whose Astros are in first place in the NL West. He is
unhappy with G.M. Dick Wagner's inability to trade for another
starter, and he finds that working for owner John McMullen and having
to call him or Wagner every night is wearing. The Astros have tested
five pitchers in the fifth spot -- Mark Knudson, Julio Solano, Mike
Madden, Matt Keough and Manny Hernandez -- and the quintet has a
collective 2-12 record in the games they've started. They could have
picked up Bob Forsch for minor league catcher Mark Bailey a month ago
but hesitated because of Forsch's big contract. . . . When Willie
McCovey, Bobby Doerr and Ernie Lombardi were inducted into the Hall
of Fame last week, the attendees included Jane Fonda, her
baseball-loving husband, politician Tom Hayden, their 13-year-old
son, Troy, and Fonda's daughter, Vanessa Vadim. ''When Tom was Troy's
age his father took him to see the Hall of Fame, and that's what
we're doing,'' said Fonda. The family's baseball vacation had also
included stops at Fenway Park and Royals, Shea and Yankee stadiums
(where Hayden, who plays on two baseball teams in Los Angeles, took
batting practice). At Cooperstown they were given a private tour by
Hall p.r. director Bill Guilfoile, during which Troy asked if the
museum might like to have his collection of autographed baseballs.
Guilfoile graciously declined the offer. . . . Toronto outfielder
Lloyd Moseby has a record called Just Stick To It coming out Aug. 18
on the RCA label. ''It warns kids to stay away from drugs, stay in
school, that scene,'' Moseby said. ''I wouldn't have done it if not
for the lyrics, the message. I'm no singer; no way am I doing love
songs or anything.''


CHUCK SOLOMON His comeback in jeopardy, Leonard says he wants to play for K.C. or no one.

(R) TOPPS CHEWING GUM INC. A happy 71st birthday to Max Lanier.