NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
All season the last-place SAN DIEGO Padres longed to have some fun. Last week they finally did—by scrambling up the first-place battle between SAN FRANCISCO and LOS ANGELES (page 20). ATLANTA briefly made some pennant noise. Powered by Henry Aaron's four home runs and nine RBIs, the Braves won five straight and closed to within 3½ games of the Dodgers before dropping a doubleheader to them. In all, Aaron had 15 homers in 26 games, equaled his season high of 45 and was 77 short of Babe Ruth's 714. He drove in all the Brave runs in a 5-2 win over CINCINNATI, smudging the 11-0 record Don Gullett had compiled at Riverfront Stadium. Don Wilson of HOUSTON kept his win streak intact, getting his sixth in a row with a one-hitter against the Reds.
SF 85-68 LA 84-70 ATL 79-76 HOUS 75-78 CIN 75-80 SD 58-95
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
September 26, 1971
No one did his thing quite like rookie Burt Hooton of CHICAGO. In fact, his thing is called The Thing. It is an irascible pitch described by Cub Catcher Ken Rudolph as "a superslider and a tremendous sinker." After graduating from the University of Texas three months ago, Hooton and The Thing (SI, June 28) racked up 135 strikeouts in 102 innings in the Pacific Coast League. Last week Hooton held the Mets hitless for 6‚Öî innings, struck out 15 over nine innings and ended up with a 3-2 victory. Then it was veteran Juan Pizarro's turn. He hit a home run to beat NEW YORK 1-0 and handed Tom Seaver his first loss in eight games. More shocking, Pizarro reversed standard baseball procedure when he stated, "I'm not 34 years old. I'm 36." PITTSBURGH clinched a tie for first place with, of all things, superlative pitching. Steve Blass gave up only one run and eight hits as he won twice, and the Pirate staff combined to make .149 hitters out of their opponents. What may have looked like an oversized snow-flake to poolside sunbathers beyond the right-field fences in MONTREAL was actually a Rusty Staub homer, his third of the week. Bill Stoneman of the Expos and Rick Wise of PHILADELPHIA both won their 15th and 16th games. After being needled all year by ST. LOUIS, Willie Montanez and Tim McCarver of the Phillies finally got even with the Cardinals. Montanez hit two homers and went 6 for 8, while McCarver had four hits as the Phillies won a pair. The Cards' Lou Brock reached new career highs and lows. He stole his 500th base and broke his own league record for 100 or more strikeouts in a season by doing it for the seventh time.
PITT 93-61 ST. L 84-69 NY 79-74 CHI 79-74 MONT 67-84 PHIL 62-91
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Oakland clinched the top spot in the West, the first title an A's team has earned since Connie Mack's Philadelphia crew won the pennant 40 years ago. Pitcher Catfish Hunter arose at 5 a.m., shot his limit of doves and that night bagged his 20th win and a promise of a Cadillac from Owner Charles Finley. Vida Blue, who received his Cadillac earlier in the season, said, "My body is tired, but I can still throw hard for five innings." Not hard enough it would appear. In his fourth unsuccessful try for his 24th victory, he pitched five against the Brewers and gave up five runs. Rookie Monty Montgomery got into his first game for KANSAS CITY and won it with six scoreless innings of relief against the A's. MINNESOTA set a club record for grounding into double plays with 13 for the week, raising the season total to 143. MILWAUKEE Reliever Ken Sanders, who has seven wins and 30 saves, was made an honorary member of the city's fire department—and immediately lost twice in two days. Pitcher Tom Bradley of CHICAGO had not won in a month, so Manager Chuck Tanner gave him some advice: "Relax. Enjoy the game. And don't pitch to every batter like he was a Babe Ruth." In his next start Bradley zipped through the Angel lineup in 1:45 and beat them 5-1. Several weeks ago Outfielder Jay Johnstone said that hitting against Tom Murphy of the CALIFORNIA Angels "is like getting a free dinner." Last week Murphy served him a fast ball—to the ribs. Undismayed, Johnstone jogged down to first base, stole second and scored on two wild pitches.
OAK 97-55 KC 82-71 CHI 72-80 CAL 72-81 MINN 70-81 MIL 64-88
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
With 18 days left in the season DETROIT was an impossible 10 games behind the Orioles. Six days and five straight wins over the Orioles later, the Tigers were just five games back. Two of the victories were picked up by Fred Scherman, first when he pitched 8‚Öî innings in relief, then when he made his first start of the year and won 5-3. Mickey Lolich also beat the Orioles twice, pitching a pair of six-hitters and striking out 19. In the second victory, he drove in both runs to win 2-1. That gave him 25 victories, the most in the majors. BALTIMORE, however, won the last game of the series 8-1 as Mike Cuellar gained his 19th win, and any Tiger pennant hopes were about over. Prior to that, though, Oriole pitchers had given up 42 runs in seven games, six of them losses. Frank Robinson had an inkling he would hit his 500th home run in a game early in the week against the Tigers, so he ordered champagne ($49.68 worth) for the clubhouse before play began. Robinson hit No. 500 and, even though the Orioles lost 10-5, they celebrated with Frank's champagne. WASHINGTON pitchers had another unhappy week. Denny McLain dropped his 20th game and Dick Bosman, who lost his 15th, had his wallet stolen for the third time in two years. The Senators did manage to hold CLEVELAND to a 16-inning 5-5 standoff in which 44 players, including a record 15 pitchers, were used. Asserting that he was more interested in testing new talent than in finishing third, BOSTON Manager Eddie Kasko made liberal use of Juan Beniquez, Cecil Cooper, Carlton Fisk, Mike Garman, Rick Miller, Rogelio Moret and Ben Oglivie. The Sox lost 5 of 8 games and dropped to within a half game of the fourth-place NEW YORK Yankees. Bobby Murcer returned to the Yankee lineup after missing nine games because of an attack of kidney stones. He went 8 for 15, batted in five runs, helped the Yankees win six of eight and picked up eight points on batting leader Tony Oliva of the Twins, who is out for the year with knee surgery. Murcer's rush put him within seven points of Oliva's .337 average.
BALT 91-57 DET 88-66 BOST 80-74 NY 79-74 WASH 59-90 CLEV 57-94