"It seems every time Tony gets a hit he either ties the game or wins it for us," said Jim Coker about teammate Tony Perez of the Cincinnati Reds. Perez has, indeed, been getting timely hits and has been largely responsible for keeping the Reds in first place. Last week was typical of his clutch performances-Against the Cardinals, who had pared the Reds' lead to half a game, Perez hit a ninth-inning triple that set up the winning run. The next night, his triple in the eighth broke up Cardinal Pitcher Dick Hughes's perfect game and led to a 2-1 victory. Later in the week, Perez hit two two-run homers to help beat the Cubs 7-6 and the Braves 8-7. Perez' emergence as one of the most dangerous sluggers in the league has been remarkable, for until six weeks ago he seemed to be nothing more than a .260 hitter. Last year he batted .265 and had only four homers, and there was talk that he would be traded. This spring he hit well and won the first-base job, but before a month had gone by there he was on the bench with a .260 average again. It seemed that Tony, a muscular 25-year-old Cuban, would never come close to matching his minor league feats of hitting 34 home runs in a season or batting .336. Then Deron Johnson, the team's third baseman and cleanup man, was hurt on May 6, and Perez was given the alarming responsibility of taking his place. In 27 games since then, Tony hit .355, slugged eight homers and had 25 RBIs. He hit safely in 17 straight games, batting .384 during that spree. Manager Dave Bristol says, " Perez has the best attitude a ballplayer could have. He's totally unselfish. He wants to do anything he can to win."