It was obvious that HOUSTON (3-4) was floundering. Manager Grady Hatton had a 45-minute talk with his players. Rusty Staub and Ron Davis wore special rubber-spiked shoes when playing the tricky Astrodome outfield. A caller trying to reach two club officials was told by the switchboard operator, "Sorry, we're having a marathon prayer session." None of these extracurricular devices, though, could extricate the Astros from last place. There was a more overt reaction to adversity in LOS ANGELES (4-3). Even Walt Alston, that Clark Kent among managers, got stirred up enough about his bumbling players to say that he might have to "kick 'em in the pants." General Manager Buzzie Bavasi angrily said, "This club is giving only 85%. There isn't a thing in the world Wes Parker can't do—if he puts his mind to it. His problem is one of concentration, and I think the same goes for Ron Fairly." Parker hit a homer the next day, Fairly had one two games later and the Dodgers began winning, NEW YORK (0-5) pitchers gave up a game-winning homer on the final pitch of one game (to Joe Torre of the Braves) and then another home run on the very first pitch of the following game (to Lou Brock of the Cardinals). Roberto Clemente of PITTSBURGH (2-5), who edged his batting average over .400, hit three homers and had seven RBIs in one game, yet the Pirates lost it to the Reds 8-7. CINCINNATI (5-2) won again the next day when, with the bases loaded, the Pirates committed a passed ball on what should have been an inning-ending strikeout, then added a wild pitch and an error to give the Reds three runs. Everything the first-place Reds tried worked. Gerry Arrigo, who earlier in the year pitched a one-hitter, was used in relief last week and won twice. Tony Perez took over at third base for the injured Deron Johnson and lifted his batting average over .300. CHICAGO (3-4) has a youth movement (page 64), but 36-year-old Ernie Banks, the man that Manager Leo Durocher last season said would have to be replaced, hit his sixth and seventh home runs of the year. ATLANTA (4-2) got eight home runs (three by Hank Aaron), and fine relief work by Jay Ritchie and Phil Niekro. Juan Marichal of SAN FRANCISCO (4-3) won his sixth and seventh games in a row, after losing his first three starts. Jim Bunning of PHILADELPHIA (2-4) stopped the Reds with a three-hitter. Then Reliever Dick Hall pitched six scoreless innings, and Don Lock came through with a game-winning single for a 2-1, 18-inning victory, ST. LOUIS (5-0) clambered into second place with late-inning wins on clutch hits by Tim McCarver, Mike Shannon and Orlando Cepeda.
Standings: Cin 26-12, StL 20-11, Pitt 18-14, Chi 18-15, Atl 18-16, SF 18-17, Phil 15-18, LA 14-20, NY 10-20, Hou 11-25
Chicago (2-3) Manager Eddie Stanky was lavish in his praise of KANSAS CITY (4-2) Manager Alvin Dark. Stanky spoke of Dark's "deep knowledge of the game," of his "courage when it comes to strategy," of his "great talent as an instructor" and of his "great patience." Then their teams met, for the first time this season, in a three-game series. Before it was over Stanky and one of his pitchers were thrown out of a game for alleged beanball tactics, and Dark had sand applied to the base path between first and second to slow down the swift White Sox base runners (the umpires refused to let the game begin until the area had been repaired). When asked how two such fine friends and former teammates (on the pennant-winning New York Giants of 1951) as he and Stanky could resort to such maneuvers, Dark replied, "Friendships are forgotten when the game begins." Dark and his Athletics won the first round by winning two out of three games from the White Sox. Five home runs in five games by Willie Horton of DETROIT (4-2) kept the Tigers near the league lead. BALTIMORE (4-1) finally showed its muscle, slugging 13 home runs—seven of them in one game, four of them in one inning, BOSTON (2-3) Manager Dick Williams had no sooner returned from warning Reliever John Wyatt, "This guy's a first-pitch hitter," than Paul Blair hit a homer on the first pitch, to give the Orioles a win. The Red Sox beat CLEVELAND (2-3) with ninth-inning rallies, and in between the Indians beat the Red Sox on Chuck Hinton's 10th-inning homer. Mickey Mantle of NEW YORK (2-4) hit five homers in six games, but the Yankees plummeted into the second divison. Dean Chance of MINNESOTA (4-1) ended the White Sox's 10-game winning streak with a five-hit, 1-0 victory and later won his seventh in a row by beating the Angels. Jim Kaat, a 25-game winner a year ago, lost for the fifth time and was sent to the bullpen. A three-hit shutout by Pete Richert brightened WASHINGTON (2-3) Manager Gil Hodges' outlook, which then was darkened by news that as many as four of his players—including Richert—may soon be wearing khaki. Someone sent red-white-and-blue shorts to the CALIFORNIA (1-5) players and staff, and when they wore them they won their first game in a week. Said Manager Bill Rigney, "I don't know if they helped, but I'm not taking mine off." The Angels lost their next three.
Standings: Chi 20-10, Det 21-11, KC 17-16, Bos 16-17, Minn 15-16, Balt 15-16, Cleve 14-17, NY 14-17, Wash 14-18, Cal 14-22