All four contenders took turns in first place, with Kansas City winding up half a game ahead of Chicago and Texas and one game in front of Minnesota. The Royals (4-3) started off with three losses and fell to fourth, but then John Mayberry poked his 18th homer and Hal McRae broke a tie with an eighth-inning single as the Royals upended the Indians 5-3. Dennis Leonard, who was 4-8 on June 20, used his new slider to beat Cleveland 4-0 on a four-hitter that made him 13-10. Then came 9-3 and 5-2 wins over Boston. Three Royal home runs settled the first game, and Doug Bird wrapped up the second with his sixth save, his fourth in nine days.
Like the Royals, the White Sox (1-4) dropped their first three outings. But Wilbur Wood's five-hit, 3-1 win in Milwaukee enabled Chicago to leap from third place to first. Wood, who has been having trouble with his knuckleball, began delivering the ball straight overhand, used more fastballs than usual and won for the first time in almost a month. Richie Zisk's 26th homer and Oscar Gamble's 25th provided all the runs Wood needed.
Texas (4-3) started off by outlasting Chicago 12-9 as Mike Hargrove homered for the fourth game in a row. After his streak ended, Hargrove homered again as Doyle Alexander (13-7) muffled Milwaukee 11-3. The Rangers beat Toronto twice, Jim Sundberg singling in the last of the 10th for a 6-5 verdict and Dock Ellis pitching a shutout the next day. Texas then lost twice to New York, despite the heroics of Hargrove and Gaylord Perry. Hargrove led off a game with a homer for the fourth time in eight days, and Perry fanned three Yankees to increase his career total to 2,802 and bump Mickey Lolich out of fifth place on the alltime strikeout list. Bert Campaneris stole five bases, and Claudell Washington drove in 10 runs.
With lefty Rudy May pitching for Baltimore, left-handed swingers Rod Carew and Lyman Bostock, the No. 1 and No. 3 hitters in the league, were benched by Minnesota Manager Gene Mauch. No sweat, their fill-ins did pretty well, Craig Kusick homering twice and driving in five runs and Bob Gorinski getting a homer and two RBIs as the Twins (2-5) won 13-9.
Frank Tanana of the Angels (2-3) gave up 11 hits to the Blue Jays, but hung on for a 7-4 triumph, his 14th. Using an opened-up delivery and new grips on all his pitches, Paul Hartzell beat Toronto 7-2. Said Hartzell of the changes made at the urging of Pitching Coach Marv Grissom, "Moving my lead foot slightly to the left takes a lot of strain off my shoulder, and the grips eliminate tipping my pitches." During Hartzell's win, Bobby Bonds hit his 30th homer to tie Jim Rice of Boston for the league lead.
Bringing up the rear were Seattle (2-5) and Oakland (1-4). "Anybody who can win seven games in a row for an expansion team is some kind of pitcher," said Mariner Manager Darrell Johnson after Glenn Abbott used his sinkerball to induce four double plays in a 3-2 defeat of Detroit. Two homers by rookie First Baseman Jerry Tabb helped Vida Blue and the A's knock off the Indians 7-3.
KC 68-51 CHI 67-51 TEX 68-52 MINN 69-54 CAL 58-60 SEA 50-75 OAK 44-75
It's a gutty feelins, the guys hollering for each other," said Mike Torrez of New York after beating Chicago 6-2 on six hits. "Everybody's jumping off the bench to shake hands. It's like a fire that spreads." With the Yanks (7-0) hollering for rather than at each other and with them shaking hands instead of fists, they moved into a virtual tie with the Orioles for second place, 1½ games behind the Red Sox. Torrez (14-10) also defeated Texas 8-1 on four hits for his sixth complete-game win in a row. During that stretch he has given up only 29 hits and has a 1.33 ERA. "I like to be the spark plug," said Mickey Rivers, who hit .353 and drove in 10 runs. "I like to ignite things." Rivers touched off a 15-3 victory over the Angels and a 7-5 win over the Tigers with leadoff home runs. Graig Nettles chipped in with his 27th and 28th homers. But the most dramatic blow was a two-run, bottom-of-the-ninth shot by Chris Chambliss that stunned Chicago 11-10. With Don Gullett disabled with a sore arm, Dick Tidrow started for the first time in more than a year and won twice. Three saves by Sparky Lyle gave him 19 for the season.
Manager Earl Weaver of Baltimore (4-1) protested a game because of a moth. After the moth flew into the ear of Minnesota's Butch Wynegar and the catcher was off the field for 12 minutes being treated, Weaver lodged his protest; he felt the game had been unduly delayed. When play resumed, the Orioles further bugged the Twins, winning 6-5 on Doug DeCinces' single in the 13th. Lee May had knotted the score at 5-5 with a homer in the seventh. It was the 20th home run for May, making him the 19th player to have hit that many in 10 consecutive seasons. Three one-run wins gave the Orioles 26 victories in 40 such games. Ross Grimsley (12-6) beat the A's 5-4 and the Twins 6-2. Mike Flanagan, who was 2-8 on June 23, squared his record at 9-9 by holding off Minnesota 3-2. Ken Singleton socked his 18th and 19th homers and batted .500, and Andres Mora walloped four home runs.
Boston (4-3) did not hit with its usual power. After crunching the Mariners 11-1, the Sox squeezed past the Royals 2-1 and 5-3 as Reliever Bill Campbell picked up his 20th save in the first game and his 12th win in the next. Jim Rice's 20th double made him the first Red Sox player since Ted Williams in 1939 to have 20 or more doubles, 10 or more triples and 30 or more homers.
Thirteen home runs pepped up the Tigers (4-3). They beat the Twins 6-5 as Ben Oglivie homered twice and Tim Corcoran once as a pinch hitter. Ron LeFlore and Oglivie both hit their 15th home runs and Milt May his 10th as Detroit bombed Seattle 13-1, and Steve Kemp cleared the fence twice to polish off the Mariners 6-4. Aurelio Rodriguez also hit two homers as Milt Wilcox (5-0) beat Seattle 7-3. The longest ball of all was Jason Thompson's 23rd home run in a 5-4 loss to New York. Thompson's drive was only the 14th hit out of Tiger Stadium in 40 years, clearing the 94-foot-high third deck in right field.
Also hitting for distance was Andre Thornton of Cleveland (5-3), who homered and drove in six runs during a 12-4, 14-5 doubleheader sweep of Milwaukee. Thornton's fourth homer of the week and 23rd of the season came in the 12th inning and defeated Oakland 5-4. Two-time winner Al Fitzmorris has stopped sucking lollipops, does not like gum or tobacco and has resorted to a new "pacifier"—chewing on plastic coffee-stirrers.
Bill Travers of Milwaukee (3-5) was chewed up by the Indians, who pummeled him for 14 runs and 18 hits before he was relieved in the eighth. Travers was given a huge ovation by the Cleveland crowd when he was finally removed by Manager Alex Grammas, who explained that he was too short on pitchers to make the change sooner. Don Money hit three homers, one as rookie Larry Sorensen downed Boston 5-3.
It seemed like a mismatch when Jerry Garvin of Toronto (3-4), who had lost 10 games in a row, faced Nolan Ryan of California. But with relief help from Pete Vuckovich, the Blue Jays won 3-1. Vuckovich also saved a 6-3 win against the Royals and was a 5-4 victor over the Angels.
BOS 71-47 BALT 70-49 NY 71-50 DET 56-64 CLEV 55-66 MIL 54-72 TOR 42-77
While Philadelphia (page 14) won six of seven, Pittsburgh tried to figure out how to win on the road, Chicago tried to avoid being Cubby-holed and St. Louis did some long-ball hitting for a change. The Pirates (3-3) won two of three home games behind John Candelaria (13-4), making them 46-16 in Pittsburgh. In Chicago, however, the Pirates lost two of three, leaving them 25-36 on the road. They were fortunate to topple the Cubs 7-6, scoring three times after Frank Taveras had apparently ended the fifth inning by striking out. Catcher George Mitterwald missed that third strike, allowing a run to score as Taveras scooted to first base. Moments later, Phil Garner cracked his 16th homer. Bill Robinson continued his solid hitting with four home runs, giving him 22 in all.
Although they fell seven games back, the Cubs (3-3) were encouraged by some strong pitching. Rick Reuschel (16-5) struck out 11 Pirates and won 4-2 with the help of Bobby Murcer's 22nd and 23rd home runs. Dave Giusti did not allow a run in seven innings of relief. He also earned his first save since coming to the Cubs.
The Cardinals (3-3), who are last in the majors in homers with 75, belted a pair in two straight games as they downed the Padres 12-4 and 7-1. Mike Tyson homered and had six RBIs in the first game. St. Louis also beat New York 2-0 on Bob Forsch's two-hitter.
Tony Perez hit the first three-run single of his 14-year career as Montreal (4-3) defeated Atlanta 7-2. Scoring all the way from first on that hit was Andre Dawson, who also turned on his speed during a 6-2 win in St. Louis when he stole second, went to third on an infield out and stole home. Gary Carter's 20th and 21st homers came during a 13-0 swamping of Philadelphia. The Expos slammed 15 doubles to increase their league-leading total to 221.
Three players picked up in the trade for Tom Seaver helped New York (2-5) beat St. Louis 5-1. Pat Zachry was the winner, and Doug Flynn and Steve Henderson contributed vital hits.
PHIL 75-45 PITT 71-52 CHI 68-52 ST.L 68-54 MONT 56-67 NY 49-72
If we put any heat on the Dodgers, I'd be very surprised if they wouldn't back away." That was Manager Sparky Anderson's appraisal of his Reds' chances of catching division-leading Los Angeles. "When I get a pitch I can handle, I try to be aggressive. I don't try to kill the ball. I just try to bruise it." Those were the words of George Foster, who bashed three balls over the wall to raise his home-run total to 41. With Foster becoming the first major-leaguer since 1973 to slam 40 homers in a season, with his teammates adding seven more four-baggers, with Joe Morgan stealing four bases, with Ken Griffey batting .435, with Fred Norman winning twice and with Pedro Borbon saving two games, Cincinnati (6-2) closed to within 9½ games of Los Angeles.
The Dodgers (3-3) hit a feeble .222. Shutouts by Doug Rau (1-0 over Atlanta) and Don Sutton (7-0 over San Francisco) prevented a fadeout. After his fourth loss in a row the week before, Sutton had gone into an auxiliary clubhouse at Dodger Stadium and wrecked "five lockers, two tables, two chairs and the housing for a fire extinguisher." It was the perfect therapy, because the next time out. Sutton gave up just one hit, an eighth-inning single by Giant Marc Hill. That was the fifth one-hitter of Sutton's career and gave him a share of the league record with Mordecai Brown, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Jim Maloney and Tom Seaver. Bob Feller has the big league record of 12.
Phil Niekro of Atlanta (2-5) became the 55th pitcher to hurl 3,000 or more innings. His 5-3 defeat of Montreal was his 17th complete game, tops in the league. In one game the Braves ended a string of 25 innings without scoring and in another fought back from a 6-0 deficit to overhaul the Astros 9-6.
Joe Niekro of Houston (3-3) won his fourth game in five decisions since becoming a starter, stopping San Diego 6-3. Then came two wins in Atlanta—15-3 as Art Howe hammered a grand slam and 4-1 behind Mark Lemongello (5-13).
For the fifth consecutive time, Ed Halicki of the Giants (3-4) beat the Dodgers in Los Angeles, throttling them 6-3. Halicki (11-9) also shackled Pittsburgh 5-1, making the Giants 8-1 against the Pirates.
"I would like for Buzzie [club president Buzzie Bavasi] to come to me someday and tell me I'm the best manager he ever had," said Alvin Dark, skipper of the Padres. Bavasi was not about to utter such praise last week as San Diego lost five of six. The victory was a 7-4 verdict in Cincinnati during which rookie Bill Almon drove in five runs.
LA 73-49 CIN 64-59 HOUS 57-66 SF 56-68 SD 54-72 ATL 43-78
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
BILL BUCKNER: The Cub first baseman gave the Chicago offense a much-needed lift as he had 16 hits in 31 at bats, slugged three homers and drove in 11 runs, eight of them in 6-2 and 5-4 victories over Los Angeles.