His team's headlong plunge from the heights must have unhinged SAN FRANCISCO Manager Charlie Fox. Or maybe he feels his oratorical skills have not received proper recognition. Otherwise, why would he have invited newspapermen into the clubhouse Saturday in Atlanta to listen in on his desperation pep talk to the sagging Giants? "The team is too complacent," Fox told the embarrassed ballplayers as the writers scribbled. "And not all of the athletes are giving their all. What is needed is a 100% effort by everybody." Inspired, the Giants charged out onto the diamond and lost to the Braves 5-4. It was their seventh straight loss in a possibly disastrous slide. Giant fans used to talk about the June Swoon. How about Remember September? LOS ANGELES, once dead and buried, has revived. The Dodger captain and shortstop, Maury Wills, had said that "strange things" happen in September. Not so strange is his own inspired leadership in the stretch drive. Wills singled in the winning run Friday in San Diego to give the Dodgers five wins in a row and move them to within 3½ games of the Giants, the fifth time this year they've been that close. And they were half a game closer the next day when they were idle and the Giants lost again in ATLANTA. The Braves' Henry Aaron helped Los Angeles' cause by beating the Giants twice on Saturday. His three-run homer toppled them 7-5 in one game that started Friday night and—after a two-hour, 19-minute rain delay in the 11th inning—ended at 2:11 a.m. Saturday. "I've done a lot of things after two a.m.," said Aaron, "but this is the first time I've played baseball." Later that day he scored the winning run on a single by Earl Williams. Aaron homered in the second game, too, giving him 41 for the year and 633 for his career. The HOUSTON Astros do not hit many home runs—as a team they have only 25 more than Aaron—but they've been getting some remarkable pitching from 6'8" rookie James Rodney Richard, who struck out 21 batters in his first 15 major league innings. "He's got a funny motion," said CINCINNATI'S Woody Woodward after the Reds lost to him 5-2. "He's all arms and legs." The Reds did manage to beat SAN DIEGO'S hard-luck Dave Roberts 1-0 earlier in the week.
SF 83-63 LA 80-66 ATL 74-73 HOUS 72-74 CIN 71-77 SD 54-92
Montreal is a nice place to live, but you wouldn't want to visit there if you happened to be in the thick of a pennant race in the National League. The Giants in the West have lost all six of their games in the Canadian city, and PITTSBURGH came a cropper there last weekend, losing two of three. Montreal pitching even cooled the hot hitting of Pirate rookie Second Baseman Rennie Stennett, whose batting streak was stopped at 18 games. In a previous series with the Expos, Stennett had gone 11 for 15, prompting Montreal Manager Gene Mauch to complain, "That kid looks like he could get a hit in the on-deck circle." ST. LOUIS geared for a stretch drive, ran into a revitalized Juan Pizzaro in CHICAGO and lost a chance to gain on the faltering Pirates when he shut them out 7-0. Cub Manager Leo Durocher, under heavy fire from everyone but team Owner Phil Wrigley, looked some part of a genius the day before, when he started substitute Catcher Frank Fernandez, who rewarded his confidence with a home run, a superb pickoff throw, a fine catch of a foul ball and a successful argument with an umpire that changed a checked Cardinal swing into a swinging third strike. The only real swinging in PHILADELPHIA was done by Catcher Tim McCarver. Unhappily, McCarver wasn't hitting much with his bat, but he did land a right-hand punch on the jaw of the Cardinals' Lou Brock, who, McCarver said, had been teasing him. "When guys are beating you 6 to 0 and they're laughing at you," snarled McCarver, "that's too much to take." NEW YORK'S Tom Seaver was, as always, a little too much for McCarver or any of the Phillies to take as he thrashed them 9-2 for his 18th win.
PITT 88-59 ST. L 82-64 NY 75-69 CHI 74-71 MONT 63-80 PHIL 59-87
Oakland may be blissfully out in front of the pack, but that has not kept Owner Charlie Finley from reacting a bit snappishly to whatever adversity remains. Finley, miffed by consistently poor attendance, called off his "Fan Appreciation Day" scheduled for Sept. 25, there being no reason to appreciate fans who are not there. What apparently touched off Finley was the week-night crowd of only 6,878 that showed up to watch Vida Blue pitch. And Blue lost. KANSAS CITY, still a distant second to the A's, was able to generate at least a little intramural competition. Either the Royals" Fred Patek or Amos Otis will be the American League's base-stealing champion. Otis stole five in one game against hapless MILWAUKEE, putting him on the heels of Patek, who has been leading the league almost all season. By the weekend Patek had 49 steals, Otis 48. MINNESOTA will also have a league leader if Tony Oliva can stand up long enough to get to bat the 502 times required of a batting champion. Oliva, who has been playing on a painfully injured knee, will then repair to the dugout. Surgery is scheduled for the off season. And CHICAGO'S Bill Melton is shooting for the league's home-run championship. He even hit one to the wrong (or right) field for the first time this year. The wrong-way shot gave him 29 for the season, one behind Detroit's Norm Cash. CALIFORNIA won't win anything but a lot of sympathy for the kind of season it is having.
OAK 92-53 KC 78-67 CHI 68-77 CAL 68-78 MINN 66-77 MIL 63-82
Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver, marking time until the season ends, found he had pitching problems, of all things. He has four pitchers who might win 20 games apiece, but he probably will be able to use only three of them in the playoff series with Oakland. "What a dilemma," cried Weaver, "the more they pitch, the less I know who to start." Other managers should have such problems. Billy Martin of DETROIT, for example. He only has two reliable pitchers, Mickey Lolich and Joe Coleman. When Lolich won his 23rd game he threw a champagne party for his teammates. But his bubble burst after five innings against BOSTON in his next start; he gave up all six runs in a 6-1 loss. WASHINGTON and CLEVELAND have no pitching at all. The Senators' bonus boy, Pete Broberg, lost his fourth in a row, and onetime 31-game winner Denny McLain dropped his 19th. In Cleveland they talk about hitting, not pitching. The Indians have a valid Rookie of the Year prospect in First Baseman Chris Chambliss, who boosted his average close to .295. He may get some competition from NEW YORK'S Ron Blomberg who, with Bobby Murcer ill, took over as the team's big (by modern Yankee standards) hitter with a .320 average.
BALT 88-51 DET 81-64 BOST 76-71 NY 72-73 WASH 58-85 CLEV 56-88