If anything, DETROIT (4-4) proved that it cannot survive without the home run. Four homers in two days led to a pair of wins over the White Sox and moved the Tigers into the league lead. Then the Tigers hit one ball over the fence in the next five games, and four of them were losses. They snapped back when Dick McAuliffe hit a grand slam in the 13th to beat the Yankees. CHICAGO (2-5) got shutout pitching from Tommy John and another key hit from Ron Hansen, a .158 hitter who drove in his 18th run of the year with his 19th hit. Tom Phoebus of BALTIMORE (4-2) pitched his third consecutive shutout and Andy Etchebarren homered in the 19th inning (the longest Oriole game ever). After beating the Indians 2-1 for his seventh win and coming within five outs of a no-hitter, Jim Lonborg of BOSTON (5-2) was refreshingly honest. Said Lonborg, "I really wanted that no-hitter. It would have put me in the national spotlight right away." Manager Joe Adcock of CLEVELAND (4-3) kept shuffling his lineup (23 different ones in 43 games), and his team finally got over the .500 mark. Jim Merritt pitched his second shutout in a row and Dean Chance his third of the year for MINNESOTA (4-3). The KANSAS CITY (3-4) offense got help from Pitchers Lew Krausse and Jim Nash, who won games with hits. With Whitey Ford announcing his retirement and with onetime 20-game winner Jim Bouton being sent to the minors, NEW YORK (4-3) pitching seemed to reach bottom. But then Al Downing won twice and two converted relievers, Thad Tillotson and Joe Verbanic, won their first big-league starts. All three pitchers had games saved for them by Reliever Dooley Womack. WASHINGTON (4-3) hoped that getting Slugger Mike Epstein and Pitcher Frank Bertaina from the Orioles for their best pitcher, Pete Richert, would pay off handsomely in the long run. Jim McGlothlin's second straight shutout was all that CALIFORNIA (1-6) could be happy about.
Standings: Det 28-18, Chi 26-18, Bait 23-20, Bos 24-22, Cleve 23-22, Minn 23-23, KC 22-25, NY 20-24, Wash 20-26, Cal 19-30
Disaster seemed imminent in CINCINNATI (6-2) when Tommy Harper suffered a fractured wrist and Relievers Ted Abernathy and Gerry Arrigo also were hurt, but the Reds regrouped, won six one-run games and actually increased their league lead. It wasn't easy. They had played nine games in a row that had been decided by one run and four of last week's wins were picked up by a revamped bullpen that included two regular starters—Gary Nolan and Milt Pappas—plus Bob Lee (purchased from the Dodgers) and Mel Queen. The fine relief work would have been wasted had it not been for clutch hits by Tony Perez (below), Leo Cardenas, Vada Pinson, Pete Rose and Tommy Helms, ST. LOUIS (4-3) played seven one-run games in sequence and lost three of them, including a 2-1 squeaker to the Reds. The Cardinals had runners on first and third with none out in the ninth, only to have the Reds end the game with a triple play on which Orlando Cepeda was tagged for the final out after making a belated dash for the plate. Juan Marichal of SAN FRANCISCO (6-2) had his eight-game winning streak halted when the wind at Candlestick Park carried a soft line drive by Phillie Pitcher Jim Bunning over the fence for a game-winning homer. But Marichal came back to beat the Mets for the 19th time without a loss. "I'm not sure," said Bob Veale of PITTSBURGH (4-3), "that I will ever complete another game." Veale was upset because Manager Harry Walker had in recent weeks removed him twice from games in which he was behind. Last week, Walker let Veale stay on the mound as long as he wanted, but after giving up seven runs in five innings, Veale had had enough. He went to Walker and said, "Thanks for going with me as you did. I believe I learned a lesson." Maury Wills came back to LOS ANGELES (3-4) for the first time since the celebrated trade last December. His return, unlike the trade, helped both teams. Wills' triple enabled the Pirates to win the first game of the series, and his presence in the lineup perked up the sagging Dodger attendance (down 290,000 before his visit). More than 114,000 people came to see the three-game set. Wills was hitting .296 for the season and had stolen 13 bases in 14 tries, whereas Bob Bailey and Gene Michael, the players the Dodgers obtained for him, were batting .128 and .213. For only the third time in 15 years CHICAGO (3-4) finished the month of May ever .500. Ferguson Jenkins won twice, Billy Williams hit four homers and Pitcher Rich Nye helped beat the Reds 6-5 with three hits of his own, one a drag bunt. Errors, passed balls, bad base running and worse pitching by ATLANTA (1-5) more than offset four homers by Hank Aaron. Richie Allen of PHILADELPHIA (6-1) finally got going. He hit his first home run since opening week, stole home and batted .400 as the Phillies won six in a row. With Dave Giusti pitching a four-hitter and Mike Cuellar a three-hitter, HOUSTON (3-4) twice beat NEW YORK (1-7) and climbed out of 10th place. Back in the cellar, the Mets had a hard time scoring runs but did manage to help Bob Shaw beat the Giants 2-1.
Standings: Cin 34-18, StL 27-17, SF 28-20, Pitt 25-20, Chi 23-22, Phil 22-23, Atl 22-25, LA 20-27, Hou 17-31, NY 15-30
"It seems every time Tony gets a hit he either ties the game or wins it for us," said Jim Coker about teammate Tony Perez of the Cincinnati Reds. Perez has, indeed, been getting timely hits and has been largely responsible for keeping the Reds in first place. Last week was typical of his clutch performances-Against the Cardinals, who had pared the Reds' lead to half a game, Perez hit a ninth-inning triple that set up the winning run. The next night, his triple in the eighth broke up Cardinal Pitcher Dick Hughes's perfect game and led to a 2-1 victory. Later in the week, Perez hit two two-run homers to help beat the Cubs 7-6 and the Braves 8-7. Perez' emergence as one of the most dangerous sluggers in the league has been remarkable, for until six weeks ago he seemed to be nothing more than a .260 hitter. Last year he batted .265 and had only four homers, and there was talk that he would be traded. This spring he hit well and won the first-base job, but before a month had gone by there he was on the bench with a .260 average again. It seemed that Tony, a muscular 25-year-old Cuban, would never come close to matching his minor league feats of hitting 34 home runs in a season or batting .336. Then Deron Johnson, the team's third baseman and cleanup man, was hurt on May 6, and Perez was given the alarming responsibility of taking his place. In 27 games since then, Tony hit .355, slugged eight homers and had 25 RBIs. He hit safely in 17 straight games, batting .384 during that spree. Manager Dave Bristol says, "Perez has the best attitude a ballplayer could have. He's totally unselfish. He wants to do anything he can to win."