After the All-Star break, runaway PITTSBURGH picked up where it left off and moved 11½ games in front of the second-place Cubs. Reserve Outfielder Gene Clines got four hits in each of two consecutive appearances against the Reds and Padres, then was benched. He was back in the lineup in the series finale against the Padres but had lost his groove. He only got two for five, NEW YORK, down to fourth place and threatening to plummet clear to the Police Athletic League, needed a stopper performance from Tom Seaver in Houston Saturday. Seaver complied with a four-hitter over eight innings, but the Mets lost in the ninth 2-1. They have now lost 14 of their last 16. They have won only one series in 10 years in Texas. CHICAGO'S Ferguson Jenkins won his 14th game in routine fashion, going the full nine innings and hitting a homer. "He's lost eight, but I know of at least four that he should have won," said Manager Leo Durocher. PHILADELPHIA'S Rick Wise did not pitch in the All-Star Game, making it four years in a row that the Phils' representative has sat on the bench. Oh well, better to be there than in Philadelphia. About the only good news for MONTREAL was Bill Stoneman's route-going eight-hitter against the Cards, which ended a four-game losing streak for the Expos. Stoneman raised his league-leading strikeout total to 160. With only 36 wins, Manager Gene Mauch would like to forget his spring-training prediction: "Take a run at 81." Perhaps he can say he meant 1981. The wife of ST. LOUIS Manager Red Schoendienst did not take any chances at a Cards-Expos game. She had nine nuns with her (one for each inning?) rooting for the Redbirds and they won 6-0. Reggie Cleveland threw the shutout, his and the club's first since May.
PITT 62-31 CHI 50-42 ST. L 49-44 NY 47-43 PHIL 41-53 MONT 36-57
If LOS ANGELES is to catch the Giants, a key man is likely to be slender Righthander Bill Singer, who has been out of action for over a month. "If Bill is healthy and able to stay in the rotation," said Maury Wills, "we'll win the pennant." Sunday against the Pirates was his first start since June 16. "I haven't opened up in two weeks," said Singer, "so I have no idea what will happen." What happened was he lost quickly, giving up three runs in five innings, SAN FRANCISCO'S Gaylord Perry, long a suspected spitballer, got a shakedown inspection from the umpires before a game against the Reds. No grease, marmalade, STP or any other foreign substance was found. "I guess that proves I've been innocent all these years," said Perry. Yelped Manager Charlie Fox, "Where were they when he was losing six in a row?" CINCINNATI'S Third Baseman Tony Perez had key hits in the late innings to win two games from the Giants for the Reds. "When I get hot I hit everyone," he said jubilantly. On the minus side, Catcher Johnny Bench was sidelined by an injured wrist, although Pat Corrales filled in ably, SAN DIEGO Manager Preston Gomez left his team in Pittsburgh to return home for a hernia operation, but there was no doctoring the Padres, who lost all three of their games to the Pirates. HOUSTON enjoyed its first triple play in history. "Boy," said astute middleman Denis Menke, "it can sure take care of an inning real quick." The fine work of long Reliever Jim Ray also helped embarrass the visiting Mets(5‚Öì hitless, runless innings). Ray credits his improvement to a no-wind-up motion that helps his control. ATLANTA stole L.A.'s traditional balanced victory recipe Friday, stealing two bases, getting good pitching and winning on 12 base hits—all singles. The Braves even tried a squeeze play, which didn't work. "I'm going to make that play work before the year's over if I have to go out there and bunt myself," said Manager Luman Harris.
SF 57-38 LA 50-45 HOUS 46-46 ATL 47-50 CIN 44-52 SD 33-61
Fifth-place CLEVELAND at least showed some punch off the field. Pitcher Mike Paul appeared at the ball park Friday with a badly swollen mouth and needed five stitches to close a cut inside his upper lip. "I was sucker-punched by a teammate of mine," explained Paul. Purely by coincidence, Outfielder Ted Uhlaender showed up with a bandaged right hand and said he had cut and bruised his knuckles on a broken soda bottle. Nobody got slugged in BOSTON, or even banned, but the words were cutting. Outfielder Billy Conigliaro, who had been upset at his brother Tony's retirement from the Angels and his own poor play, blasted teammates Carl Yastrzemski and Reggie Smith, then got blasted in return. Billy C apologized at a sweet-ness-and-light press conference. Meanwhile, back on the diamond, the slumping Yaz jokingly put cotton in his ears to blot out the left-field boobirds apparently left over from Ted Williams' playing days. Despite all this, the Bosox were only four games behind the Orioles after Sunday and General Manager Dick O'Connell said, "You might think I'm crazy, but I believe we will be a better team the second half of the season because of what has happened." The two Rons who platoon in right field for NEW YORK—Blomberg and Swoboda—each won a game. Ron B hit a three-run homer to lead the Yankees over Milwaukee and Ron S got a two-out, ninth-inning single against Chicago. There were signs that DETROIT'S pitching was picking up. Mickey Lolich has been reliable all along—he has not lost since June 12—but Joe Coleman scattered seven hits Saturday and beat the A's 2-1, and cortisone-fortified Les Cain did well in a losing effort against Vida Blue. Nor did his shoulder act up. "He is over the hump and into his comeback," said Manager Billy Martin. Dave Nelson upped his batting average to .338 for WASHINGTON, but there was little else to the team's offense. When ex-Dartmouth hero Pete Broberg lost a 2-0 game Friday to the White Sox, it made a total of 20 innings in which his teammates have not helped him with a single run. BALTIMORE'S Mike Cuellar lost to the Angels Friday night 5-4, ending his winning streak at 11, but Pat Dobson extended his victory skein to eight. Such strong starters presented Manager Earl Weaver with a problem, however. "...It leaves little work for the bullpen and sometimes my relievers have trouble throwing strikes," he complained. Or maybe it isn't a problem anymore; on Saturday Dave McNally (13-4) was put on the injured list.
BALT 57-34 BOST 53-38 DET 48-43 NY 45-48 CLEVE 39-54 WASH 36-54
Oakland's Vida Blue, disappointing in the All-Star Game in Detroit even though he was the winning pitcher (two hits and three earned runs in three innings), pitched a one-hitter against the Tigers three days later for his 18th victory of the regular season. It was his seventh shutout and he is closing in fast on the league record for lefthanders of nine held by Babe Ruth. CALIFORNIA Shortstop Jim Fregosi underwent surgery at the Mayo Clinic to have a tumor removed from between the big and second toes on his right foot, and will be lost to the club for at least three weeks. Another absent Angel, Tony Conigliaro, was having phone conversations with Owner Gene Autry and hinting that he would be back in the saddle again. "I did it with one eye before," he said. "I can do it again." The case of a third absentee, the suspended Alex Johnson, is still tied up in Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's office, but Johnson might wind up in MILWAUKEE. Brewers General Manager Frank Lane expressed interest in putting up with the problem child. "If we had one guy who could hit 15 homers for us the rest of the way," he said, "we'd have a shot at second place. Johnson would be ideal." CHICAGO, stumbling along slightly ahead of Milwaukee, was at least getting good pitching from Tommy John. His 2-0 win over Washington was his fifth in his last seven starts. His ERA for those seven games: 0.79. "If this guy isn't the best pitcher in the league right now, I'd like to know who is," said Manager Chuck Tanner. Tell him, somebody. MINNESOTA continued its skid. Harmon Killebrew clinched the All-Star Game, 6-4, for the American League with his two-run homer, but he could not hit any out at Fenway Park, where the Twins went scoreless for 21 innings in two losses. KANSAS CITY'S Lou Piniella, mired in a season-long slump, singled in the winning run to beat the Indians and keep the Royals comfortably in second place.
OAK 58-33 KC 47-42 CAL 44-51 MINN 42-49 CHI 39-51 MIL 39-51