For the Dodgers (5-1), the question hasn't been "Who's on first?" but "Who's in center?" Rookie Rudy Law, who started the season in centerfield like a young Ty Cobb, has fizzled of late. Derrel Thomas, Gary Thomasson and Rick Monday have all been found wanting, too. So rookie Pedro Guerrero, a 24-year-old former outfielder who became a first baseman after he fractured his right ankle in 1977, was given a shot. After Guerrero homered and made a fine running catch in Jerry Reuss' 3-0 shutout of Pittsburgh, Manager Tom Lasorda exulted, "The new Willie Mays was born today." As a minor-leaguer, Guerrero batted .333 last season and .337 in 1978. In 102 at bats as a Dodger he is hitting .333. Los Angeles, which fell 3½ games behind Houston on Monday, finished the week half a game in front. Steve Garvey's .417 batting contributed to the surge. So did a 2-1 victory over St. Louis in which Bob Forsch, who had given up just four homers in 142‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings, was taken downtown by Jay Johnstone in the ninth and by Joe Ferguson in the 10th.
Although besieged by problems on and off the field, the Padres (5-0) perked up as they got two saves and a win from Rollie Fingers. Fifth-place Atlanta (1-5) avoided being caught by San Diego only because Doyle Alexander defeated New York 6-3. The Astros (2-4) had a hard time keeping their minds off J.R. Richard (SCORECARD), who needed surgery to remove a life-threatening blood clot. Cesar Cedeno had three hits, as did Pitcher Joe Niekro, in a 6-3 win over Montreal and tripled in the 10th to beat Philadelphia 3-2.
Even though Tom Seaver was still sidelined and Frank Pastore (10-5) went on the disabled list with an injured finger, the big trouble for the Reds (3-4) wasn't pitching. Opponents scored barely three runs a game, but Cincy hitters failed to capitalize largely because they stranded 27 runners in a three-game stretch. The Reds continued their hex on Philadelphia's Steve Carlton, however, beating him 2-0 behind Mike LaCoss with runs that scored on an infield single and a broken-bat hit. That left Carlton with a 9-17 career mark against Cincinnati.
For the Giants (3-3), Greg Minton yielded only one hit in 6⅖ innings of relief while earning two saves, and Larry Herndon got eight RBIs on just four hits. Newcomer Joe Pettini had four hits and Jack Clark slammed his 20th home run to defeat Chicago 8-5.
LA 57-46 HOUS 56-46 CIN 54-50 SF 51-52 ATL 46-56 SD 45-57
Unexpectedly sharp in his first two starts of the season, Pitcher Fred Norman helped the Expos (5-2) regain first place. The Norman conquests were 5-4 over Cincinnati and 5-1 over Atlanta, as he gave up just three earned runs in 16 innings. In 36 previous relief appearances he had a dismal 4.91 ERA. Bill Gullickson, who stopped the Reds 4-1, and Scott Sanderson, a 4-1 winner over the Braves, both had 10 strikeouts. Andre Dawson hit .462 and Tony Bernazard singled in the ninth to defeat Cincinnati 2-1.
With Dave Parker's ailing knee and Bill Robinson's stretched Achilles tendon relegating them to the bench, Pittsburgh (2-3) went 20 innings without a run and fell to second. The Pirates' only two homers were swatted by Ed Ott during a 6-4 win in L.A.
Greg Luzinski's absence because of knee surgery—he'll be out for nearly a month—didn't hurt the Phillies (4-2). Taking over for The Bull in leftfield, Lonnie Smith homered, stole three bases, scored eight runs and hit .320. Garry Maddox had nine RBIs, five as Steve Carlton coasted past Atlanta for his 16th triumph. Tug McGraw earned three saves, one on behalf of rookie Bob Walk. In a 3-1 win over Cincinnati, Walk threw 89 pitches and had 15 three-ball counts in the first four innings.
St. Louis and Chicago (both 1-5) stumbled. The Cardinals' John Fulgham, who hadn't pitched in 52 days because of arm trouble, changed to a more overhand motion and blanked the Giants 4-0. It took Jerry Martin's 17th homer and Bruce Sutter's 22nd save for the Cubs to beat San Francisco 5-3.
Pat Zachry's second shutout in a row, a 2-0 four-hitter against the Braves, kept the Mets (4-2) in the chase. So did 5-4 and 5-3 victories over the Astros, who blew 4-0 and 3-1 leads. Steve Henderson's three-run pinch homer, New York's first four-bagger in 10 games, knotted the first game at 4-4, and Frank Taveras, who hit .444, drove in the tiebreaker in the eighth.
MONT 56-44 PITT 56-45 PHIL 53-47 NY 50-51 ST.L 45-57 CHI 40-58
Baltimore fans talked the return of "Orioles Magic," and the players warned the front-running Yanks they would make a race of it yet. As the Orioles (5-1) intensified the chase, John Lowenstein had two gamers: a bad-hop double in the 12th downed the Brewers 5-4 and a single in the eighth beat the Twins 3-2. Only Steve Stone lost, ending his victory streak at 14 games.
The Brewers (1-5) also felt they were poised to make a run at New York (4-3), but lost three times to the Yankees before home crowds totaling 143,908. Reggie Jackson's two-out, three-run homer in the ninth tied the opener at 6-6 and an error in the 10th made New York a 7-6 winner. A seven-run Yankee first inning the next night helped defeat the Brewers 9-4, and four Milwaukee errors scuttled the home team 5-3 in the third game. New York's Rick Cerone, who had 10 RBIs, hit a three-run homer in the eighth in Minnesota and a bases-empty drive in the 10th for a 7-6 victory. Graig Nettles, though, was lost for four to six weeks with hepatitis.
Detroit (5-4) followed a four-game losing streak with four straight wins. Milt Wilcox won twice and Al Cowens, a .394 batter for the week, made Jack Morris a 1-0 victor over Seattle with a ninth-inning single.
Cleveland (3-1) had its eight-game victory string ended, but climbed into fifth. Ross Grimsley, with a couple of pitches clocked at 44 mph, baffled the Mariners 5-2.
Manager Don Zimmer's 2-year-old racehorse, Zimmer, won at a country fair, but his Red Sox (2-4) plodded along like Percherons despite the hitting of Dwight Evans (.429) and Dave Stapleton (.423). Bob Stanley twice hurled three runless innings of relief, saving a 1-0 victory over Texas for rookie Bob Ojeda with the second stint.
For the second time this season, the Blue Jays (2-4) fought back from a 6-0 deficit to jolt the Angels, this time winning 9-8. Prospects also seemed dim for Jesse Jefferson when he barely had time to warm up for the Mariners because he had attended a Sunday clubhouse chapel service. Nonetheless, Jefferson did a hallelujah job and won 5-0 with a two-hitter.
NY 65-37 BALT 57-44 DET 55-44 MIL 54-48 CLEV 49-48 BOS 51-50 TOR 44-56
Chicken Little would have said the sky was falling, but opposing pitchers knew it was just another barrage of hits by the Royals (5-1). George Brett batted .500, Willie Wilson .519 and Darrell Porter .524. But they were all outdistanced by Hal McRae's .593 and nine RBIs. Altogether, the Royals hit a remarkable .388 and lifted their season average to .292. If they can stay there, it will be the highest mark since the 1950 Red Sox batted .302. But Kansas City did not live by hits alone. Five double plays helped Larry Gura defeat New York 8-0. The Royals thus concluded their season's series against the Yankees with eight wins in 12 games, with a 90-56 edge in runs and with a .334 to .245 superiority in batting. "I've got four pitches and I can throw them in nine locations," Gura said early in the season. "Plus, I've got eight guys out there to help me. A hitter has[3/10] of a second to make a decision. Technically, there's no reason the other team should get hits. But they do." Those hits, however, have been few and usually far between. A 4-3 triumph over Chicago gave Gura a 15-4 record and a league-leading 2.07 ERA.
Despite trailing by 12½ lengths, the A's are "thinking and talking about going all the way," Pitcher Rick Langford said. Langford enabled Oakland (5-1) to bump Texas out of second place with his sixth straight victory, an 11-1 laugher over Toronto in which Wayne Gross had two homers and four RBIs. Speeding up his curveball so that "it's hard to distinguish from my slider" has helped Langford considerably. He retired the first 1.8 Blue Jays in order, finished with a two-hitter, got 16 outs on grounders and threw only 77 pitches, 61 of them strikes. The A's had three other well-pitched games: Matt Keough beat Detroit 4-0; Mike Norris stopped Toronto 5-3; and Brian Kingman and three relievers held off Cleveland 2-1.
During his nine seasons in the league, Buddy Bell of the Rangers (3-4) has hit Red Sox pitching at a .337 pace, 60 points higher than his career average. Last week Bell ripped Boston hurlers again during a 7-5 Texas triumph, going 5 for 5 and raising his season's average against them to .460. Al Oliver was less selective; he bopped pitchers from three clubs as he hit .567.
"Batters know where I'm going to throw the ball, but they don't know the speed," said Geoff Zahn of the Twins (3-3) after beating the Yankees 3-2. A day after Zahn's changes of speed had handcuffed the Yankees, Jerry Koosman kept them off stride by mixing slow curves with changeups and more fastballs than usual. Koosman, who didn't allow a hit over the last 7‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬® innings, finished with a three-hitter and a 2-1 victory.
Despite being outhit 11-5 by the Rangers, the White Sox (2-4) won 3-2 as Steve Trout and Mike Proly stranded 11 runners.
The bedeviled Angels (4-2) came within a few percentage points of escaping last place. Two home runs and six RBIs by Bobby Grich backed up the shutout pitching of Freddie Martinez and Andy Hassler as California downed Detroit 7-0. And longtime Reliever Dave LaRoche, making his ninth start in 11 years, defeated Toronto 5-4 on five hits.
"I'll keep my sanity, but I don't know how," Seattle Manager Darrell Johnson said. The Mariners (0-7) drove Johnson up a wall, being outhit .308 to .181 and getting only four extra-base hits while opponents had 12 doubles, three triples and eight home runs.
KC 64-39 OAK 52-52 TEX 50-52 MINN 47-56 CHI 45-57 SEA 39-64 CAL 38-63
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
BAKE McBRIDE: "I've never had a streak like this," said the Phillie outfielder, "not even in stickball." His 14-for-23, .609 spree produced 11 runs and raised his average to .317. In a 9-6 win over Houston he was 5 for 5.