This is scary." said Lee Mazzilli of the Mets (5-2), reflecting on the otherworldly quality of the team's string of come-from-behind victories. A 4-2 Pirate advantage was turned into a 6-4 New York triumph as the Mets stole four bases and Steve Henderson singled in two runs in the seventh. Then came the Mets' first three-game sweep of the Dodgers since 1974. New York, down 4-0 in the fourth inning of the opener, won 5-4 as Tom Hausman hurled five innings of shutout relief and John Stearns' apparent double-play grounder bad-hopped into centerfield and brought home two runs. The next night, Craig Swan gave up six hits and became a 6-2 winner when Mike Jorgensen hit a grand slam in the 10th. In the fifth inning of the finale, the Mets trailed 5-0, but no sweat. They won 6-5 thanks to three Dodger errors and three scoreless innings by Reliever Neil Allen, who got his 10th save. Then came another shocker against the Giants, who carried a 6-0 lead into the sixth. Henderson gave New York a 7-6 victory when, with two out in the bottom of the ninth, he climaxed a five-run rally with his first homer of the season, a three-run shot off Allen Ripley. Believe it or not. This topped off a .423 week for Henderson, whose .341 average is the league's third best. New York, once 9-18, has won 18 of its last 28 games. "Eerie," said Mazzilli.
No one, however, gained on the Expos (6-1). who led the East by two games. With three pitchers ailing and with Andre Dawson joining a lengthy list of injured players with a bruised right wrist after going 9 for 16, a call for help went out to the farm clubs. Up from Denver came Charley Lea, who pitched eight innings against the Padres and won 9-1. Up from Memphis came Brad Mills, who took over at third base against righthanded pitching for injured Larry Parrish and had 10 hits in 17 at bats. Meanwhile. Rodney Scott scored nine runs, Warren Cromartie batted .414 and Ron LeFlore hit .423 and stole a base in all seven games. Overall, the Expos hit .329 for the week, including .351 with runners in scoring position. Even one of the walking wounded contributed. After breaking and dislocating his ring finger during pregame pepper, Chris Speier put the finger back in place himself, played the full game and scored the decisive run in a 7-6 defeat of the Padres by sliding home headfirst in the ninth. Along the way, the Expos tied a team record by extending their winning streak to 10 games.
Since signing with Houston in 1969, Mike Easier has been shuttled to St. Louis, California, Pittsburgh, Boston and back again to the Pirates (4-3). Despite hitting .352 in the American Association in 1976 and a league-leading .330 in the International in 1978, he has never landed a steady job in the big leagues. Last week. Easier, who has batted only 87 times this season, raised his home-run output to 10, his batting average to .414 and his slugging percentage to a resounding .851.
"That's what Cy Young must have looked like," said Phillie Manager Dallas Green after Steve Carlton, with last-inning relief from Tug McGraw, beat the Padres 3-1. That left Carlton with an 11-2 record, a 1.78 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 116 innings. Supporting him were Mike Schmidt's 20th homer and Greg Luzinski's 15th. Philadelphia (3-3) also defeated San Diego 9-6, starting off the game with seven straight hits, one short of the major league mark.
Chicago (2-4) was shut out for the ninth time, 3-0 by Houston, and then lost to Atlanta 7-6. Dave Kingman was a day late returning to the club after going to San Diego to check on an alleged burglary in his house there. Although there was some question the burglary occurred (the local police had no record of it), there was no question that Kingman suffered a loss (the Cubs fined him a day's pay, or approximately $1,250).
Whitey Herzog's first day as the new skipper of the Cardinals (3-4) began with two misadventures. After missing a plane to Atlanta, where he was to join the team, Herzog caught a later flight and then ran up a $32 taxi fare when the cabbie took him to the wrong hotel. Herzog found a later runaround more pleasing as the Cardinals brought enough runs around the bases to beat the Braves 8-5. George Hendrick won the game with five RBIs and a three-run homer in the 10th. He defeated the Braves again two days later by singling in the 10th for a 4-3 victory.
MONT 33-21 PITT 32-24 PHIL 29-24 NY 27-28 CHI 23-30 ST.L 21-36
It was the seventh inning in New York, the score was 6-5 in favor of the Mets, Steve Garvey of the Dodgers (2-4) was on first and Ron Cey was at the plate with a 2-2 count. In came the pitch. A ball. Cey, thinking it was ball four, headed for first. Garvey compounded the gaffe by trotting toward second, where he was tagged out on a throw by Catcher John Stearns. L.A. lost 6-5 and fell to second despite Dusty Baker's five-homer week.
Houston (5-1) took a two-game lead and ran its victory streak to eight before losing in Pittsburgh. During those eight wins, the Astros outhit the opposition .314 to .179. The last triumph came on J.R. Richard's third consecutive shutout, a 3-0 whitewashing of Chicago that lowered his ERA to 1.50, the best by any starter in either league. Then it was on to Pittsburgh, where Houston had been 26-102 since entering the league in 1962. After losing to the Pirates 5-3, the Astros won 7-3 as they pounded out 16 hits, two by Denny Walling, who batted .579.
Rookie Charlie Leibrandt of the Reds (3-3) was a two-time winner—1-0 over the Padres on a three-hitter and 5-2 against the Cardinals. Seven straight steals gave Dave Collins 24 in 26 attempts. After 10½ innings and four rain delays totaling 3:26, a Cincy game against the Padres was called off at 2:30 a.m. with the score 6-6. Cincinnati salvaged the tie after returning from the third delay to score four runs in the ninth.
San Francisco (3-3) weathered the rains even better, winning 3-1 in Philadelphia in a game that ended at 3:12 a.m. after nearly five hours of delays. Jack Clark's two-run homer in the eighth put the Giants ahead to stay. Vida Blue beat the Mets 3-1 for his ninth win.
Despite the 10-for-20 hitting of new Third Baseman Tim Flannery, the Padres (0-6) continued to sputter. San Diego, which has lost 15 of 18 games, fell into a virtual tie for fourth with Atlanta (2-4). Home runs led to both Brave victories. Dale Murphy and Gary Matthews homered as Phil Niekro beat St. Louis 5-2. And during a 7-6 win in Chicago. Murphy slammed another and Bruce (Eggs) Benedict hit his first ever in 377 at bats.
HOUS 34-22 LA 33-25 CIN 32-26 SD 25-34 ATL 23-32 SF 24-34
Wayne Nordhagen, a seldom-used outfielder for the White Sox (1-4), told the press he could "carry this club on my back" if he played regularly. Thus, after the 225-pound Nordhagen homered during a 7-4 victory over Toronto, 230-pound teammate Lamar Johnson jumped on his back in the dugout and hollered, "O.K., Nordy, carry us." Even so, it was Ed Farmer who continued to shoulder the main load. Farmer nailed down the win over the Blue Jays with 3⅖ innings of scoreless relief that earned him his 14th save.
"After two years, the pitchers are finally hitting my bat," was the modest appraisal of Clint Hurdle of the Royals (4-2) after the 1978 phenom-turned-phlop raised his average to .310. Willie Aikens also began to measure up, getting four RBIs as Kansas City beat Cleveland 8-4 and adding three more as Larry Gura stopped Milwaukee 4-3 for his eighth win. When George Brett slid into second against the Indians, he was simultaneously safe (he stole the base) and out (he tore a ligament in his right foot and will be sidelined for about two weeks).
Seattle (4-3) was the only other Western club with a winning record. A home run by Juan Beniquez in the 13th downed Boston 8-7 and completed a comeback from a 5-0 deficit. Tom Paciorek homered in both of Glenn Abbott's victories—5-0 against New York and 7-6 over Baltimore.
Before the A's (3-4) tangled with the Yankees (page 30), they knocked off the Orioles twice. Mike Norris went 14 innings against Baltimore and picked up his seventh victory when former Oriole Tony Armas unloaded a grand slam for a 6-2 victory.
"What we need is a laugher to get us out of the doldrums," said Ferguson Jenkins of the Rangers (2-4). "We're like a team waiting for a funeral." Jenkins briefly put some life into the club when he defeated Milwaukee 3-1.
For the last-place Angels (1-6), both the pitching stats and medical reports were filled with dispiriting numbers. California hurlers gave up 83 hits, including 12 homers, 57 runs and 37 walks (11 in a 13-8 loss to Baltimore). Opponents also stole 17 bases. Bruce Kison. who is in the first season of a five-year, $2,465 million contract, became the 18th injured Angel and the fifth on the disabled list when his pitching arm became so weak he couldn't throw "the hard-breaking ball."
Minnesota (2-5) barely stayed in front of California. Four double plays and a six-run fifth carried the Twins past the Tigers 9-5.
KC 36-22 CHI 29-28 OAK 29-30 SEA 28-31 TEX 26-32 MINN 23-25 CAL 21-35
Detroit (5-1) pitchers have been going to class in recent weeks and their report cards indicate they are learning their lessons well. "We mostly talk about yesterday's game," Pitcher Milt Wilcox says of the sessions, which were set up by Manager Sparky Anderson and also include Pitching Coach Roger Craig. "They're trying to get guys to think positively and to be aggressive." Since May 27, when the staff's ERA was at flunkout level (5.10), the Tiger pitchers have had a passable 3.51 while winning nine of 13 games. Only seven of Detroit's first 42 starters this season went the route, but six of the last 12 have done so, including Wilcox, who stopped Chicago 8-3. Pat Underwood went 8⅖ innings as he beat the Twins 8-4 with the help of Champ Summers' two home runs. Rookie Dan Petry got an "A" when he aced Chicago 3-0. The Tigers won even though they were outhit 9 to 3 and failed to get a hit off Britt Burns for the first 6⅖ innings. Detroit scored two runs in the sixth without a base hit, capitalizing on a walk, a sacrifice, an error, a sacrifice fly, a stolen base, another error and a balk.
Toronto (3-3) also scored twice without a hit, pushing across two runs in the ninth to beat Texas 7-6. The Blue Jays did it by combining three walks with an error and a sacrifice fly. Noteworthy, too, were Jim Clancy's four-hit, 1-0 win over Chicago and Barry Bonnell's 13th-inning two-run double, which polished off Minnesota 6-4.
Division-leading New York (4-3) twice beat California in extra innings, 8-7 when Bob Watson singled in the 10th and 9-7 when Bobby Murcer had a two-run pinch hit in the 11th. Willie Randolph's remarkable on-base streak ended at 16. During that span Randolph reached safely by means of seven hits, six walks, being hit by a pitch, an error and a fielder's choice.
Milwaukee (3-4) beat Texas 7-1 and 8-1 as Sixto Lezcano twice had three RBIs. Three homers, including Ben Oglivie's 16th and Robin Yount's 10th, enabled the Brewers to defeat Kansas City 5-2.
The Red Sox (6-1) climbed over .500 as they slugged 15 home runs, four by Butch Hobson and three by Jim Rice. Added to that was the fine relief pitching of Skip Lockwood, who pitched 3‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® hitless innings to hold off Seattle 5-4, and by Tom Burgmeier, who earned his third victory and 10th and 11th saves.
Cleveland (4-2) also nudged above the break-even level. Two of the wins went to John Denny, who beat Chicago 7-2 and Minnesota 6-2 to bring his record to 7-4.
Two-run homers by Benny Ayala and Ken Singleton of the Orioles (3-4) gave Steve Stone a 4-1 victory over the Mariners.
NY 36-21 MIL 31-24 BOS 30-27 CLEV 28-27 TOR 27-28 BALT 28-30 DET 26-28
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MIKE EASLER: The 29-year-old Pittsburgh outfielder hit for the cycle in one game against Cincinnati and had 10 RBIs overall, eight runs scored, five homers, one double, two triples and a resounding .625 average (15 for 24).