Thanks to Philadelphia's 1-5 week, St. Louis slipped into first place by the margin of a Joe Torre whisker (the hirsute Joe could spare one); to be exact, by .001. The team has come to be known as the St. Louis Red Sox since the trade that brought Sonny Siebert, Lynn McGlothen and Reggie Smith from Boston. Siebert was at 5-3, with all four decisions at home winning ones. McGlothen was 7-2 and Smith was hitting .375. This week Smith had 10 hits in 22 times up, including three home runs, five doubles and eight RBIs. St. Louis was 4-2 for the week even though ace base thief Lou Brock sat it out with a shoulder injury.
Backup Catcher Bob Stinson was responsible for Montreal's third win over a Western Division club in 14 tries. His three-run, pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning tied Saturday night's Atlanta game, setting the stage for Ken Singleton's winning hit in the 10th.
New York stopper Tom Seaver was hit hard in Cincinnati, giving up four runs in the first two innings, but he came back Saturday in Shea Stadium to defeat Houston 3-1, allowing rive hits and striking out 11. Manager Yogi Berra had said, "There's nothing wrong with Seaver physically. He's just in a slump like hitters sometimes have." Chicago's season-long infield blues were sung louder after Matt Alexander, who had done an able job filling in at third base, pulled a leg muscle Saturday in a 10-0 loss to L.A. Inability to hit in the clutch was another problem. An additional woe: pitching. That, said Vice-President John Holland, "has been our biggest problem of all."
Pittsburgh was winning at last, thanks in part to the power of First Baseman Bob Robertson, who had been used intermittently because of anemic hitting. Back into the lineup, he smashed six home runs in six games.
ST.L 25-22 PHIL 26-23 MONT 21-20 NY 21-28 CHI 18-26 PITT 18-27
The Dodgers continued to pound National League pitching as if they were adults playing Little League. Willie Crawford drove in two runs and scored three against the Giants. Ken McMullen and Joe Ferguson hit two-run homers as part of a 20-hit barrage in St. Louis. Bill Russell, Bill Buckner and Rick Auerbach got nine of the Dodgers' 15 hits in a game at Chicago, and the next day Ron Cey, playing before a cluster of his wife's relatives in Wrigley Field, had two home runs and a single for seven RBIs. He also had hit four singles in one game earlier in the week. And what did Manager Walter Alston think of his offense? "I guess it's the best we've ever had," he said.
Cincinnati enjoyed a 5-1 week, but still trailed L.A. by eight games. However, Pete Rose was not relishing his role as a villain in enemy ball parks, nor was he happy about his batting slump. He ended the latter in a three-game series with the Mets, getting five hits in 12 at bats in a Reds sweep. Atlanta was keeping up with Cincy, and the reason, said Ralph Garr, was, "Our pitchers just ain't giving nobody no respect." True, the Braves' staff gave up only two runs in 30 innings against Phillie, but Garr himself was a principal reason for Atlanta's good showing. He continued to lead the league in batting average (.389) and hits (82) but not modesty: "As a player, there really ain't nobody you can compare me with."
Houston had a nice 4-1 week, taking three straight from Montreal and routing New York's Jerry Koosman. Cesar Cedeno was 2 for 4 against the Expos Thursday, 4 for 5 versus the Mets Friday and hit his 11th homer (off Tom Seaver) on Saturday.
After San Francisco lost to the Cubs 12-4, Manager Charlie Fox called a squad meeting and passed out some dunce-cap awards for stupid base running, lack of hustle and general ineptitude. Randy Moffitt pitched three scoreless innings for his 12th save, which is pretty good under the stricter save definition this year. San Diego was 0-6 for the week, was held scoreless in three games and, through Saturday, had lost 21 of its last 25. "People are asking me if I'm losing weight," said Manager John McNamara. "My face always starts to look drawn when things are going like this."
LA 37-14 CIN 27-20 ATL 26-23 HOUS 27-25 SF 27-26 SD 18-37
Milwaukee stumbled to a 3-3 week but managed to stay within half a game of Boston .533 to .542. Worst stumbler of all was Second Baseman Pedro Garcia, who forgot to wear his sunglasses in the second inning of a game against Oakland, dropped two pop-ups and gave the A's three unearned runs. Shades would not have helped Boston Pitcher Rick Wise. His wife accidentally closed a door on his pitching hand, breaking a finger and putting him out of action at least two weeks.
Cleveland needed the lift of Gaylord Perry's eighth win (against Texas) because the news elsewhere was bad. Third Baseman Buddy Bell, bothered by a sore knee he hurt playing basketball last winter, was put on the 21-day disabled list—and he might be out of action much longer. "Something is wrong there for sure," said the team physician. Second bulletin from the medical ward: First Baseman John Ellis out for about a month, fractured foot. Baltimore, 1-6 for the week, had a hospital case, too. Sore-armed Jim Palmer received a cortisone shot in his elbow. "I guess I'll have to meet the team at the airport when they return home," said Palmer. "I'll have to earn my money some way." However, Oriole Pitcher Mike Cuellar has won six in a row and the weather still isn't Cuba-warm, the way he really prefers it to be.
New York traded much-criticized Second Baseman Horace Clarke to the much-criticized San Diego Padres and moved Bobby Murcer from center to right field, Elliott Maddox taking over the pasture where DiMaggio and Mantle played. Said Manager Bill Virdon, "...Maddox could be one of the best centerfielders in baseball. It depends on how he hits." On Saturday, Murcer hit his first homer in six weeks. Maddox was hitting .313. Detroit's Mickey Lolich won his fourth straight game, 2-1 over Cleveland, but the Angels beat him next time out.
BOS 26-22 MIL 24-21 CLEV 23-25 NY 24-27 BALT 22-25 DET 22-25
Oakland, perhaps thinking how much fun it would be to have a Freeway Series with the Dodgers, matched L.A.'s 5-1 record for the week, inspiring Manager Alvin Dark to say, "This club is now playing the way I had heard they play." Reggie Jackson's 15-game hitting streak ended when he was batting .404; he was at .387 at week's end. Vida Blue was helped by six runs in a win over the Tigers, but he was a power unto himself Saturday, striking out 10 Brewers and allowing six hits in a 4-1 victory.
Kansas City Manager Jack McKeon was asked at a luncheon why his team did not use the squeeze play more. "There are two or three guys I'd want to use on the squeeze," he said, "but they happen to be the same guys I would like to see up there to hit when we need to get a run in." That night one of them, Cookie Rojas, came up in the 11th inning with the bases loaded and homered. Bruce Dal Canton pitched two five-hitters with his new knuckleball, winning one.
With the likes of Carlos May, Dick Allen, Bill Melton and Ron Santo, Chicago was supposed to be a powerhouse at the plate this season. But May has yet to hit a homer, Allen is off to a slow start, and Melton and Santo are batting .237 and .228 respectively. Still, Wilbur Wood won his sixth victory in his last seven starts, aided by Allen's two-run homer and a solo shot by Melton, and the Sox were only 3½ games back of the A's. In Texas, Manager Billy Martin lost his footing twice in a melee with Cleveland, a new experience for the brawler from Berkeley. A club-record 39,269 people showed up on bat night to see the Rangers beat Baltimore 4-2. Attendance is up 160,405 over last year, and fighting is not the reason. Talent is. Pitcher Jim Bibby, one who has it, beat Cleveland and Baltimore with strong performances.
California had a fight, too, a costly one. Outfielder Bobby Valentine tangled with Milwaukee Pitcher Clyde Wright, an ex-teammate, and dislocated his left shoulder. He will be out of action two or three weeks. Leroy Stanton came back from the disabled list, got three hits and raised his average to .413. The Twins' Rod Carew got two or more hits in four games to stay over .400. Even Carew himself now says he has a chance to be the first major-leaguer since Ted Williams in 1941 to hit .400 for a season.
OAK 28-21 KC 25-23 TEX 25-24 CHI 22-22 CAL 24-26 MINN 20-24