Pittsburgh, clinging desperately to a faint lead and a fainter hope that some pitching could be conjured out of the hustings, acquired well-traveled George Brunet from Washington and unheard-of Eduardo Acosta from Columbus. Matty Alou hit his first home run in 1,041 at bats, but Roberto Clemente was sidelined with a lower back sprain and a game with the Phillies had to be suspended when part of the Pirates' new electric tarpaulin refused to go back into the ground. The next night the same game was suspended again, for 17 minutes, when all the lights went out. CHICAGO had Billy Williams, Jim Hickman and Ron Santo over the 100-RBI mark, and Randy Hundley said the Cubs were loose: "After the disappointment of last year, we learned that losing a ball game was not the end of the world." NEW YORK'S always-dangerous Al Weis hit his annual home run—this time against St. Louis—but it did no damage. The Mets lost to the Cubs in a game in which Leo Durocher and Gil Hodges went head to head strategically. In one inning, the eighth, Durocher brought in the left-handed Juan Pizarro, Hodges sent up switch-hitting Ken Singleton to pinch-hit for left-handed Art Shamsky, right-handed Ron Swoboda pinch-hit for left-handed Ken Boswell, right-handed Bob Miller relieved left-handed Pizarro, left-handed Dave Marshall pinch-hit for Swoboda and, finally, left-handed Mike Jorgensen pinch-hit for right-handed Jerry Grote. Out of all that, the Mets, trailing by three runs, got one back. Things were going so badly for ST. LOUIS at home (30-41 for the year) that Manager Red Schoendienst tried to dial the bullpen on the phone but got the press box—which might have been a better idea, considering what the bullpen has been doing. "It's the damnedest thing I ever saw," sighed PHILADELPHIA Pitching Coach Ray Rippelmeyer. "I stood there for almost 20 minutes and watched Jackson warm up. He threw it all—the curve, slider, changeup and a fastball that kept popping. I kept telling myself he's going to give those Cubs a fit." That was Grant Jackson, who went on to give up four runs to the Cubs in 1‚Öî innings. MONTREAL Manager Gene Mauch allowed himself to be fitted with a wireless microphone so that the Canadian television public could find out what a manager says to a pitcher when he visits the mound. Among the things Mauch said were: "Give them the run.... Harden up on the slider.... Are you still strong? Yes, well get him."
PITT 73-64 CHI 72-66 NY 71-66 ST. L. 65-73 PHIL 63-74 MONT 60-76
Cincinnati had lost four of five and nine of 13 when General Manager Bob Howsam said, "This is the time we'll find out what we've got." Maybe to more effect, reserve Outfielder Angel Bravo handed Gary Nolan a rubber ball. Carry the ball with you, Bravo informed Nolan, and you will pitch a low-hit game. Bravo also said it was important which pocket Nolan kept it in. "He put it in the right pocket, and I told him to change it. It only works when it's in the left pocket." Nolan shut out the Giants on three hits and said, "I was scared to go back into the clubhouse. I don't know what kind of voodoo he has." Next day the Reds showed Howsam what they had with their second in a row over the Giants, virtually clinching the division title, LOS ANGELES was looking ahead to next year, though no Dodger would admit it, and one of the prospects Walter Alston was looking over was a 22-year-old knuckleballer named Charlie Hough, who was glad to be in the same league with Hoyt Wilhelm. "You learn a few things each time you watch him," said Hough. After winning five straight series from Eastern Division clubs, including Pittsburgh, SAN FRANCISCO returned home to the West and promptly lost a series to the Reds. ATLANTA'S Wilhelm stroked his first hit in more than three years, a soft liner to center on which he was very nearly thrown out at first. Wilhelm worked six innings for the win over the Dodgers that broke a six-game Brave losing streak. The Braves got their expected youth movement underway, selling Tony Gonzalez to the Angels and calling up some farmhands. Included in the crop was one-time Oriole 20-game winner Steve Barber, who at least is younger than Wilhelm. SAN DIEGO'S Clay Kirby, who was pulled from a no-hitter earlier in the year, beat HOUSTON with his first major league shutout. It was the first time the Padres had won in the Astrodome in 14 games, which must have made the Astros wonder whether they could safely invite anybody into their home.
CINN 89-51 LA 74-62 SF 70-67 ATL 69-69 HOUS 65-72 SD 53-84
Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver pointed to Sept. 16 on the calendar and said, "That's the day I think we'll clinch it." Then the Orioles managed only to split a four-game series with the Yankees, and Weaver was reduced to saying, "Come on October 1." But that was talk. Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar and Jim Palmer, with 61 wins between them (26-6 since the All-Star break), were only six away from the 1952 total of the Indians' Big Three, Lemon-Wynn-Garcia. NEW YORK was, in fact, all but mathematically out of the race, although Manager Ralph Houk had a front runner for Rookie of the Year in Thurman Munson, who was hitting .294. Houk conceded that Billy Conigliaro of Boston and Roy Foster of Cleveland were having good freshman years too, but, "If I got on the phone right now, how long do you think it would take me to trade Munson for either one of them even up?" The experience of dousing two sportswriters with buckets of ice water cost DETROIT'S Denny McLain only $3,500 in pay, as the club announced his suspension would be lifted after a week. But Commissioner Bowie Kuhn stepped in and said McLain could not pitch until he visited Kuhn's office this week for a review of his probation. Just as he was finishing a TV interview, McLain himself was hit with a bucket of water by someone standing nearby. "It's funny," he said. "It puts the whole bit in the right perspective." For BOSTON, Met castoff Cal Koonce pitched his first complete game in three years. Red Sox Owner Tom Yawkey said, "It seems like the players want everything. When we get rained out of a big date and have to reschedule a day-night doubleheader to try and get some of the money back, they scream about that. Well, where do the players think the money comes from?" CLEVELAND'S Ray Fosse broke a finger, perhaps ending his season, but Ken Harrelson was pronounced ready for some work. After Manager Alvin Dark had Sam McDowell walk WASHINGTON'S Frank Howard three times in one game, twice when Howard was leading off the inning, Howard protested. The fans had paid to see him hit, he said, and McDowell should be able to get anyone out. The Indians had been walking Howard all year, Dark replied, and they were 10-6 against the Senators. Last year the Indians pitched to Howard and were 3-15.
BALT 89-49 NY 78-60 DET 72-66 BOS 70-67 CLEV 66-72 WASH 65-72
Jim Perry, whom MINNESOTA tried to sell to anybody for $5,000 in the spring of 1965, achieved his second straight 20-win season with a shutout of the Brewers. Otherwise the Twins remained ripe to be taken by CALIFORNIA, but the Angels were not responding to the opportunity. They were missing the kind of season they had expected from Andy Messersmith—although, as Manager Lefty Phillips observed, "Right now Andy's the best relief pitcher in baseball. He's never failed me. He's done fantastic work with that cage the way it is." The cage Phillips was referring to was Messersmith's aching rib cage, which keeps him from prolonged appearances, and the work was Messersmith's recent record in relief: two wins, four saves and one run in 18 innings. "The other night," said Phillips, "he leaped high to grab a ball hit over the mound and then ran to first for the final out. That nearly killed him. But that's him." OAKLAND'S Mudcat Grant estimated that he had warmed up 110 times this year, and he was so tired his ERA had climbed to 1.72. Wally Bunker of KANSAS CITY won for the first time since last Oct. 2, although the Angels loaded the bases against him in the first inning with nobody out and Alex Johnson up. "I just threw as hard and straight as I could, and things worked out," said Bunker. Bowie Kuhn showed up in MILWAUKEE to boost the Brewers' drive toward one million in attendance. Kuhn sat in the bleachers with the infelicitously named Brew Crew—the Milwaukee equivalent of Chicago's Bleacher Bums—and gamely raised his arm and shouted "Brewer Power" on cue. "My slogan tonight is 'Win One, Milwaukee,' " said the commissioner—an endorsement whose luster was dimmed by the fact that the Brewers were playing a doubleheader. The CHICAGO White Sox lost six straight, shook up their front office and told Manager Don Gutteridge his contract wouldn't be renewed. Gutteridge said his greatest mistake was shuffling the lineup every day at the first of the season. "I wanted to give everybody new a chance," he said.
MINN 80-55 CAL 76-61 OAK 75-62 KC 52-85 MIL 52-85 CHI 49-90