Every other Park in the league is bigger than ours, and I think our pitchers are more concerned about pitching here," Manager Joe Torre of Atlanta (4-3) said. "Here, sometimes pitchers give hitters too much credit, try to be too fine and aren't aggressive enough." Whatever, the Braves split four games at home, where they were 17-17. On the road they were 26-11. Opposing pitchers also had hard times in Atlanta. For example, the Braves scored three times in the last of the ninth to upend the Giants 7-6. On Sunday, Atlanta tied a big-league mark by making seven double plays and beat Cincinnati 2-0 when Chris Chambliss singled in the 14th.
With Burt Hooton out for surgery to remove a bone spur on his right knee, the Dodgers (4-3) gave Vicente Romo his first start since 1974. But Romo aggravated his sore knee while running out a single in the top of the second, and Dave Stewart replaced him. He pitched five innings of one-run ball and won 4-1. Steve Howe's 7‚Öî innings of shutout relief gave him three saves and a 0.23 ERA for his last 39 innings. Ron Cey hit .434 and Steve Sax stole eight bases.
"I don't play that way very often, but Ike had all those people in the stands," explained Manager Dick Williams of the Padres (5-2). What Williams did was let Pitcher Juan Eichelberger bat against San Francisco with two out, a runner on third and the score 2-2 in the seventh. Ike had asked to bat rather than give way to pinch-hitter Ruppert Jones, a .309 hitter who was being rested that day. Eichelberger doubled, to win the game 3-2, much to the delight of his 106 relatives and friends at the game. Eric Show picked up three wins with nine innings of runless relief.
A gutsy move by Manager Frank Robinson helped the Giants (2-5) defeat the Astros 9-8. With Houston ahead 8-7 in the eighth and a San Francisco runner on third, Robinson ordered Johnnie LeMaster, who had two strikes on him, to bunt. LeMaster dropped down a beaut, beat it out, reached third on a double by Tom O'Malley and scored on a single by Max Venable. In another game, Jack Clark's homer in the 10th made Atlee Hammaker, who went the distance, a 4-3 winner over the Astros. Catcher Luis Pujols of Houston (2-5) was charged with four passed balls in that game, in which knuckleballer Joe Niekro went the route. L.A. stole five bases against another Astro catcher, Alan Ashby, while winning 4-1. Dave Smith came out of the bullpen to make his first start in three years and committed three balks in two innings. But Houston took that game from the Dodgers 7-5 as Bert Roberge pitched three scoreless innings to gain the first save by an Astro reliever in 23 games. Vern Ruhle allowed only three singles as he beat the Giants 2-0.
Tom Hume of the Reds (4-3) picked up two saves and a win, and Dan Driessen batted .417. Both helped Tom Seaver defeat Atlanta 2-1, Hume pitching the ninth and Driessen scoring the decisive run on a wild play which several Braves flubbed up. Catcher Biff Pocoroba, trying to nail Driessen at second, made a low throw that skipped into center. Brett Butler, the centerfielder, then made a three-bounce throw trying to get Driessen at third. When the throw bounced off Third Baseman Bob Horner's glove, Driessen motored home.
ATL 43-28 SD 40-30 LA 39-35 SF 32-42 CIN 31-41 HOUS 30-42
"We just needed that final touch," said Bo Diaz of the Phillies (7-2) about a team meeting called by Mike Schmidt after two losses to the Cardinals. "We said, 'Let's try to get something going, play tough, make something happen.' " Diaz made things happen all week by batting .440, while Ivan DeJesus hit .406. After the meeting, Mike Krukow won 7-1 in St. Louis and Steve Carlton held the Cards to three hits while breezing 10-2. Then came a five-game sweep of the Mets. Dick Ruthven got the first of those victories 1-0, giving up only three singles. Schmidt settled the fourth game with a tie-breaking two-run homer in the eighth and the Phils went on to win 7-4. Pete Rose banged out 13 safeties and moved past Henry Aaron into the No. 2 spot on the alltime hit list with 3,782 and to within 409 of equaling Ty Cobb's record.
A meeting also gave the Cardinals (4-4) a boost. This session involved only two men—Reliever Bruce Sutter and Mike Roarke, a Rhode Island insurance man who was the Cub pitching coach when Sutter first rose to prominence a few years ago with Chicago. Roarke, who in the past has helped Sutter when his split-fingered fastball has gone awry, conveniently happened to be in Chicago on business when the St. Louis team was there last week. Sutter, who had been cuffed around recently, got together with Roarke and immediately went out and saved both ends of a 4-1, 2-1 twin-bill sweep of the Cubs. "I was choking the ball, trying to throw it too hard," Sutter explained. "If I'm relaxed, my pitch will break more."
Steve Rogers' fourth shutout—5-0 in New York—moved Montreal (4-4) into first place, ending a 67-day stay at the top for St. Louis. Then, as is their wont, the Expos disappointed a home crowd of 51,360 by losing—this time a doubleheader to the Pirates. Since moving into Olympic Stadium in 1977, Montreal has been 6-16 in home games attended by crowds of 50,000 or more. Pittsburgh (5-2) enabled St. Louis to regain first place by defeating Montreal 4-3 and 9-7 on Friday. Don Robinson, who slugged a two-run homer and raised his batting average to .333, won the opener. In the second game Rick Rhoden slammed two doubles, scored twice and drove in a run as he picked up the victory. Further firepower was supplied by Dale Berra, who hit .423 and had eight RBIs.
Charlie Puleo, with last-inning relief from Mike Scott, hurled the sagging Mets (1-8) past the Expos 3-1. A 10th-inning double by Junior Kennedy of the Cubs (3-4) knocked off the Pirates 6-5. Three old hands helped beat St. Louis 5-3, Ferguson Jenkins, 38, earning the win as Jay Johnstone, 36, walloped a three-run homer and Larry Bowa, 36, got three hits.
ST.L 42-32 MONT 39-31 PHIL 40-32 PITT 33-35 NY 35-38 CHI 28-46
"We were a squabbling, bickering bunch for a while. I think Harvey deserves a lot of credit for changing the atmosphere." So said Cecil Cooper of Harvey Kuenn, who had become manager of Milwaukee (5-1) on June 2. Since then the Brewers have gone 17-6 and have risen from fifth to second. Last week they continued their surge by slugging eight home runs, three by Cooper and four by Ben Oglivie, who led the league with 19.
Boston (3-3) got robust hitting from Jim Rice (.524) and Jerry Remy (.417), not to mention Dwight Evans, whose two-out, two-run homer in the ninth tied Detroit 4-4, and Wade Boggs, who won the game, 5-4, in the 11th with another blast. Boggs filled in at third for Carney Lansford, who was shelved for two to three weeks by an ankle injury.
Toronto (2-3) and New York also rallied with two out in the ninth. The Blue Jays, trailing 2-0 in Seattle, got a one-out homer from Jesse Barfield and two-out dingers by Willie Upshaw and Ernie Whitt. Toronto eventually won 5-3 in the 11th. The Yankees (3-3) tied the Indians 3-3 on ninth-inning singles by Jerry Mumphrey, John Mayberry and Butch Wynegar, which yielded the first earned run given up by Cleveland's Dan Spillner in 31‚Öî innings. New York won in the 17th when Graig Nettles, who earlier that night had hit his 300th home run, singled, advanced on two walks and scored on Ken Griffey's sacrifice fly. The day before, after a stern pregame lecture from owner George Steinbrenner, the Yanks had gone on their biggest bash in a month, drubbing the Tribe 11-3.
Dennis Martinez of Baltimore (5-2) gave up only 10 hits while beating Cleveland 7-0 and Detroit 4-1. The Orioles' big stick was Cal Ripken, who had 11 RBIs.
The Indians (3-4) stole 12 bases, but Toby Harrah's hustle while stretching a single into a double may have been the most significant bit of footwork. Harrah went on to score the go-ahead run on Mike Hargrove's single as Cleveland beat New York 5-2. Three home runs and the pitching of Jerry Ujdur enabled Detroit (1-6) to break its 10-game losing streak with a 7-1 defeat of Baltimore.
BOS 42-28 MIL 40-30 BALT 38-31 DET 37-31 CLEV 34-35 NY 33-35 TOR 33-38
Pumping iron seems to have helped the division-leading Angels (5-2) muscle their way to the top of the West. A number of the players, most notably Don Baylor, Brian Downing, Bobby Grich and Ken Forsch, are following specially tailored lifting programs. "Our aim is to maintain the level of strength acquired during the off-season," trainer Rick Smith said. Baylor got the team's biggest hit of the week, a two-run home run in the bottom of the 12th that beat the Royals 6-5 and kept California in first place.
Hal McRae of Kansas City (3-4) also hit a vital two-run shot during that series, finishing off California 8-6 when he connected in the 10th. U.L. Washington's ninth-inning single gave Larry Gura a 1-0 victory in Oakland. That was the day Manager Billy Martin hoped to get his A's (2-5) out of their batting doldrums by having Dwayne Murphy pick the lineup by plucking the starters' names from a hat. The hat trick, however, was on Oakland, which was held to four hits. For the week the A's had only 10 extra-base hits and batted .183. That dropped their average to .224, 19 points below the next-worst-hitting team in the majors—the Astros.
Five home runs enabled Britt Burns of Chicago (3-3) to coast past Seattle 13-3, and the White Sox took a pair of close games from Minnesota, 5-4 and 6-5 on eighth-inning hits—Harold Baines's single and Ron LeFlore's homer.
Home runs by Dave Hostetler, Buddy Bell and Billy Sample enabled Texas (4-3) to beat Oakland 5-2. Rick Honeycutt blanked the Angels 4-0, and Jon Matlack, with last-out help from Danny Darwin, beat the A's 2-1.
The Mariners (4-2) were drawing at a pace that would bring their home attendance to one million for the first time since 1977, the year they joined the league. Dave Henderson and Bill Caudill were instrumental in swelling the Kingdome crowds last week. Henderson, 23, was the No. 1 draft choice when the team was formed, and Caudill, 25, was picked up this spring after three lackluster seasons with the Cubs. Together they combined for four victories, all of which were sealed by Caudill, who has 13 saves. Henderson made several sparkling plays in center, beat Toronto 5-4 with a three-run homer and 6-5 with another four bagger and three RBIs, and then homered to knock off Chicago 1-0. Jim Beattie, who struck out 10 in eight innings in that last game, lowered his ERA to 2.46.
"I like it that way. You don't have a chance to think." So said Pitcher Jack O'Connor of the Twins (2-3), who was rushed into a game against the Blue Jays after Pete Redfern was hit on the foot by a line drive in the first inning. O'Connor, who had a 12.38 ERA, gave up only one run in seven innings and Minnesota won 4-3 on John Castino's single in the ninth. Tim Laudner's three-run homer climaxed a six-run rally in the ninth that carried the Twins past the White Sox 6-5.
CAL 44-29 KC 40-30 CHI 39-31 SEA 38-36 OAK 31-44 TEX 27-39 MINN 18-55
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
LARRY BOWA: The Cub shortstop had four consecutive three-hit games as he went on a 15-for-24 (.625) tear. By hitting .571 over his last 17 games, he improved his batting average from .208 to .252.
BALL PARK FIGURES
The major league leaders in runs produced—that is, runs plus RBIs minus homers—are:
1. Hal McRae, KC
2. Andre Thornton, Clev
3. Greg Luzinski, Chi
4. R. Henderson, Oak
5. Amos Otis, KC
1. Dale Murphy, Atl
2. Lonnie Smith, St.L
3. Andre Dawson, Mont
4. Al Oliver, Mont
5. Sixto Lezcano, SD
5.Ruppert Jones, SD