Orlando Cepeda and Lou Brock of St. Louis (5-1) were ailing slightly, but the thin men—6'1", 170-pound Julian Javier and 5'11", 160-pound Dal Maxvill—picked up the offense. Javier, a .228 hitter a year ago, batted .500 last week and brought his season's average up to .288. Maxvill, who had only 24 RBIs all last season, had five for the week and a total of 16 in 19 games. Steve Carlton, who has an inexplicable 3-4 record at home and an 11-4 mark on the road, shut out the Reds in CINCINNATI (2-4). Lee May hit .417 for the week, but the Reds, who scored more than five runs in a game for the first time in three weeks, wore themselves out in that one—a 15-7 win over the Pirates—and scored only four times in the next three games. Ray Sadecki of SAN FRANCISCO (3-3) won his third game in two weeks. Mike McCormick, pitching in relief, again missed a chance to win his 20th when Manny Mota of PITTSBURGH (3-3) beat him with a single in the 16th inning. Roberto Clemente had five hits in one game against the Reds and upped his league-leading average to .354. Manager Leo Durocher of CHICAGO (3-2) was perturbed by his players' "lack of concentration" and "nonchalance" in 11-10 and 5-4 losses to the Astros. The Cubs then snapped out of their lethargy, with Ferguson Jenkins picking up his 18th win and Rich Nye his 13th. PHILADELPHIA (3-4) was involved in four straight shutouts, splitting a pair with the Cardinals (Larry Jackson won a two-hitter) and losing a doubleheader to LOS ANGELES (3-4) by identical 1-0 scores. The shutouts were pitched by Bill Singer and Don Drysdale. The Dodgers began rearranging their personnel for 1968, using Jim Lefebvre at first base, Wes Parker in center field and Texas League batting champion Luis Alcaraz at second. Mike Cuellar of HOUSTON (4-0) won his 14th game. Three games between ATLANTA (2-4) and NEW YORK (1-4) were decided in the ninth inning, the Braves winning on hits by Joe Torre and Mike de la Hoz. A single by Jerry Grote of the Mets gave Tom Seaver his 14th win, a club record.
Standings: StL 94-56, SF 81-68, Chi 82-70, Cin 80-70, Phil 77-71, Pitt 75-75, Atl 74-75, LA 68-81, Hou 61-88, NY 55-93
A seemingly inconsequential deal last fall helped DETROIT (4-1) take possession of first place. In November, Fred Lasher was purchased from the Twins for $4,000. Lasher, a relief pitcher who was not even on the Tiger roster this spring, won one game and saved two others last week. Francisco Carlos of CHICAGO (5-3), another nonroster pitcher in April, beat the Indians in 10 innings on Don Buford's grand slam homer. Strong pitching, particularly by Joe Horlen and Gary Peters, carried the White Sox to five wins in a row, including three over MINNESOTA (2-4). With the Twins trailing the Senators 4-1 in the seventh, Zoilo Versalles led off with a double, but was thrown out by weak-armed Frank Howard when he tried for a triple. "I cannot condone it, and I won't," said Manager Cal Ermer angrily. Ermer himself used some questionable tactics by working starting pitchers in relief. He got away with it when Dean Chance protected a lead against the Senators but did not succeed when he used Jim Kaat in relief of Chance against the White Sox, who rallied for four ninth-inning runs. BOSTON (2-3) struggled to beat the A's twice on eighth-inning hits—one a triple by Jim Lonborg, who won his 20th game, and the other a double by Rico Petrocelli. But BALTIMORE (4-2) swept the Sox 6-2, 4-1 and 5-2 behind the pitching of Tom Phoebus, Jim Hardin and Gene Brabender. Timely hits by Rick Reichardt of CALIFORNIA (4-2) led to a pair of 2-1 wins. Despite giving up just three runs in 37 innings, George Brunet could not improve his 11-17 record. Frank Bertaina of WASHINGTON (2-4) stopped the Twins 5-4 and the Tigers 5-0. Frank Coggins, who was brought up from Hawaii, went nine for 19. Sam McDowell and Luis Tiant of CLEVELAND (4-3) each won twice. The Indians beat the White Sox 4-3 in Chicago when Reliever Bob Locker slipped while fielding a ball in front of home plate. Manager Joe Adcock charged the Sox with watering down the home plate area to slow down grounders and added, "That was one time they outsmarted themselves." Dismay was rampant in KANSAS CITY (0-5). The players felt they got nowhere during a hearing with Commissioner William D. Eckert concerning last month's imbroglio with Owner Charlie Finley. And Finley indicated that a transfer of the club to Seattle or Oakland was imminent, NEW YORK (3-3) played lively, albeit un-Yankeelike, ball. The key hits in two wins were a bunt single by Roy White and a squeeze bunt by John Kennedy. The Yankee record for their televised games rose to 51-48, far better than their 14-34 mark for untelevised games—which seems apropos for the CBS-owned team.
Standings: Det 85-65, Chi 85-66, Bos 84-66, Minn 84-66, Cal 77-71, Wash 70-79, Clev 71-81, Balt 67-81, NY 66-84, KC 59-89
"People kept asking me, 'Why don't you have an interesting pennant race like they do in the National League?' " says Bob Holbrook, who became publicity director of the American League in 1966. The question was usually asked in jest, but it was asked so frequently that it began to irritate the easygoing Holbrook. "It bugged the devil out of me," he says. But now all that has changed. The American League race has been nothing but excitement, no one asks that question anymore, and Holbrook is happy. One of the things that has helped make this such a resounding pennant brawl has been the extraordinary resiliency of the four contending clubs—their ability to fight back and win games in the late innings. Minnesota has come from behind in the seventh inning or later to win 30 games, Chicago 27, Boston 23, Detroit 16. Moreover, the White Sox have won in their final at bat on 19 occasions. The Twins held first place for most of August largely because they won 11 such come-from-behind games that month. The Tigers did it four times in 11 days this month, and last week the White Sox did it three times in four days. Last Friday a three-run homer by Bill Freehan in the eighth brought the Tigers into a 4-4 tie with the Senators, and then, with two on and two out in the ninth, Willie Horton came up. Given a life when his foul pop was misplayed, Horton drove in the winning run to move the Tigers into a three-way tie for the league lead. In Chicago the next night the White Sox went into the ninth trailing 4-1 and, with Dean Chance pitching for the Twins, seemed doomed. But they came up with one of their patented rallies—two walks, an error, a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly and four singles, including a game-winner by Pete Ward (right)—to take the game. With just a game separating the four clubs, and only two weeks to go in the season, Bob Holbrook said, "It's a delightful situation."