"I feel comfortable but never secure," said MINNESOTA Manager Bill Rigney as his team took three close games against its top challengers, CALIFORNIA and OAKLAND, to open a nine-game lead. George Mitterwald won the first game 2-1 with a 14th-inning homer, and Jim Holt backed Jim Perry, who went all the way, with an 11th-inning clout for another 2-1 win. It was Perry's 17th victory. The next day Rich Reese hit a two-run home run to give Luis Tiant his first win since May. The score was 3-1. While the Athletics stopped hitting—they went seven consecutive games without getting more than six hits in any one of them—some of the Angels stopped talking to each other. At least, that was the case in relations between Manager Lefty Phillips and sore-armed starter Andy Messersmith. Messersmith, who returned to the major leagues after a 10-day stop in the minors, pitched seven innings, allowing no runs and only five hits in his first start and then left the game. "We aren't communicating," explained Phillips afterward. "I didn't take him out of the game. I heard him say, 'that's all,' and get up and go into the clubhouse." While the Twins were settling into their life of insecure comfort at the top of the division, KANSAS CITY, CHICAGO and MILWAUKEE were secure in the knowledge that they owned the cellar. The Brewers, who began the week in a tie for fourth place, came out the decided losers. Dropping four of five games to the Royals and White Sox, they momentarily fell to sixth place and ran their record against the coexpansionist Royals to 2-9 for the year. KC's rookie shortstop, Rich Severson, provided most of the hitting as his team defeated the Brewers in both halves of a doubleheader. With two men on base in the first game, he crashed his first major league home run to give the Royals' Bob Johnson all the batting help he needed for a shutout victory. In the second game Severson went four for four and the Royals won 10-2. The White Sox, briefly, moved for a pleasant interlude up from the basement to fifth place by winning four games in a week for only the second time this year. Tommy John picked up the first Sox win with a 2-1 complete game victory. John, who had a 5-12 won-lost record at one point last month, improved his mark to 10-13 with the help of Syd O'Brien's home run.
MINN 69-40 CAL 64-49 OAK 63-50 KC 42-71 MIL 42-73 CHI 42-74