Lou Brock was not the only base stealer helping St. Louis move into first place. Bake McBride swiped seven, along with ripping four hits in each of three games. In the longest night game ever (7:04), he scored the deciding run all the way from first on an errant Met pickoff attempt in the 25th inning. McBride also drove in the go-ahead run in a 17-inning, 7-3 scramble with the Phillies.
St. Louis would not have ascended to the top had Pittsburgh not executed extraordinary ineptitudes in losing five of seven. The Pirates' final two defeats came against the Expos. Montreal won 3-2 on two unearned runs and 17-2 when the Pirates recorded three errors, a balk, a wild pitch and 13 walks.
Philadelphia edged back into contention with a 5-2 week. The Phillies twice knocked off the Cardinals, with one of the wins coming on Jim Lonborg's two-hitter, 2-0. They also outlasted the Cubs 11-10 and decked the Pirates with a pair of eighth-inning onslaughts. Bill Robinson's three-run pinch homer dumped Pittsburgh 8-5 in one of those games, and the next day the Phillies shocked the Pirates 6-4 with a six-run outburst in which Mike Schmidt hit a three-run homer and Del Unser a two-run drive.
Montreal reclaimed fourth place from New York. In winning six of eight, the Expos received nine RBIs each from Barry Foote and Mike Jorgensen. Tom Seaver won twice for the Mets, who fell to fifth when they lost a pair to the Cubs. Chicago stymied New York 4-3 on rookie Ron Dunn's homer in the 11th inning and 12-0 as Burt Hooton tossed a four-hitter to earn his first win since Aug. 1.
ST. L 78-68 PITT 77-68 PHIL 73-73 MONT 67-77 NY 66-78 CHI 59-86
Cincinnati Manager Sparky Anderson gambled and his Reds gamboled. Saving his best pitchers for a weekend series in Los Angeles, he started rookies Tom Carroll and Pat Darcy in a doubleheader against Atlanta. Carroll did not pitch well, but the Reds came from four runs down to beat the Braves 9-6 in the first game. Dave Concepcion ignited the rally, scratching out a hit, stealing second and third, and scoring on an error. Cesar Geronimo capped the five-run uprising with a grand-slam homer. In the nightcap, Darcy, who had just been brought up from Indianapolis, was a 6-2 winner as Johnny Bench hit a grand-slam home run and drove in all six runs. That victory ran the Red winning streak to four games following a week-opening 7-4 loss to the Dodgers in which Reliever Mike Marshall had set a major league mark by appearing in his 93rd game.
By the time the Reds arrived in L.A., shutouts by Don Sutton (1-0 against the Braves) and Al Downing (11-0 versus the Giants) had helped push the Dodgers' consecutive victory total to five. That was when Anderson brought out his best starters, Jack Billingham and Don Gullett. Although the Dodgers outhit them 10-5 in the opener, the Reds won 6-3 as Billingham recorded his 19th victory and Concepcion slugged a three-run homer. The shortstop scored another run after once again stealing second and third. Those thefts gave him 37 for the season and 23 in a row without being caught. Game Two also went to the Reds, 4-2. Gullett and Clay Carroll held the Dodgers to five hits while Joe Morgan and Tony Perez homered.
Four losses to Los Angeles and Cincinnati wiped out Atlanta's slim pennant hopes. Carl Morton finally won his 15th game with a 7-3 victory over the Padres. Earlier he had lost three attempts for the win by scores of 3-0, 2-0 and 1-0. For the Braves it was their 14th straight conquest of the Padres.
Using forkballs in games for the first time, after perfecting them on the sidelines for two months, San Diego's Dan Spillner and Bill Greif beat Houston 2-0 and 4-1. Larry Dierker of Houston blanked San Francisco 5-0, but the Giants took two other meetings between the clubs with late-inning slugging.
LA 91-54 CIN 90-56 ATL 80-67 HOUS 73-72 SF 66-80 SD 53-94
Oakland was futilely trying to end Texas' masquerade as a divisional contender. The Rangers, 8½ games behind the A's in early September, began the week by concluding a three-game sweep in Oakland with a 5-1 win by Ferguson Jenkins. That was such a startling turn of events that even Oakland's normally moribund fans look notice; 46,780 of them showed up to support their struggling team on Double Dinger Night. "Dinger" is the A's term for a home run and their rooters celebrate each one by rattling an assortment of bells. The big crowd was not disappointed. The A's hit three dingers as Vida Blue and Catfish Hunter blanked the Royals 3-0 and 7-0. The same night Jim Bibby of Texas beat Chicago 6-2 for his 19th win.
Then the A's and Rangers clashed head on once more, this time in Texas. In a matchup between two Cy Young Award candidates—Hunter and Jenkins—the Rangers came out on top 3-1. It was the 23rd victory for Jenkins, who is 5-0 against the A's. In 45 innings he has given them just 24 hits and eight walks, while striking out 43 and compiling an ERA of 0.60. In the second confrontation, the Rangers shelled Vida Blue and won 8-3 as Jackie Brown tossed a seven-hitter. That left Texas four games behind Oakland; the Rangers were having a ball, not a masquerade.
With the help of two homers, their first in 14 outings, Kansas City downed Minnesota 13-3 to end a seven-game losing streak. Home runs also bolstered the Twins, who hit 11, including two game winners by Harmon Killebrew and one by Rod Carew. The power hitting enabled the Twins to win six of eight and go over .500 for the first time since late April.
Before a game against California, Dick Allen of Chicago did something unusual: he took fielding and batting practice. Surely, something had to be up. It was. In the clubhouse moments after the conclusion of the warmup drills, Allen announced he was retiring from baseball, effective immediately. Jim Kaat defeated the Angels 1-0 and 8-0 to run his string of shutout innings to 25.
Andy Hassler of California lost that 1-0 game to Kaat, even though the Angel righty pitched a one-hitter. And Nolan Ryan picked up his 19th victory, fanning 15 Royals to win 3-2 in 10 innings.
OAK 83-64 TEX 79-68 MINN 74-73 CHI 72-75 KC 71-75 CAL 59-89
While New York, Baltimore and Boston fought for first place (page 18), Cleveland flubbed a chance to get into the act. The Indians won their first four games of the week, one of them Gaylord Perry's 19th triumph. Then, despite the acquisition of Frank Robinson from the Angels, the Tribe lost its next four contests and dropped 7½ games behind the Yankees.
Failure to lock its bullpen gate may well have cost Milwaukee a 6-5 loss to Baltimore. Oriole Centerfielder Paul Blair made a game-saving catch for the last out of the night with two Brewers on base, but might not have been able to hang on to the ball had the gate not swung open when he crashed into it.
Despite 11 homers, Detroit won only three of seven games. One of the home runs, a 10th-inning poke by Tom Veryzer, downed the Brewers 9-7 and gave John Hiller his 17th relief win, a league record.
NY 79-67 BALT 78-69 BOS 76-69 CLEV 71-74 MIL 70-77 DET 67-79