Ah, yes, Willie Mays. After he hit a home run to win New York's 11th straight game those old Met-haters, the Chicago Cubs, came along and smacked them twice, 2-1 and 5-1. Joy in Chicago was diluted by the fact that, next game. Mays hit a single in the 14th inning to win 3-2. With a batting order whose averages ranged from Willie Stargell's .282 to Rennie Stennett's .391, the Pittsburgh Pirates ran their winning streak to nine before losing to St. Louis. The defeat ended a five-game streak for Pitcher Dock Ellis, but it came only hours after the Pirates had won in 14 innings the night before, and with Stargell, Manny Sanguillen and Roberto Clemente on the bench.
Although they had almost an entire infield injured—second, third and short, plus catcher—and Leftfielder Billy Williams playing first base, the Cubs lost only one game all week. Besides Ferguson Jenkins' and Burt Hooton's handcuff jobs on the Mets (aided in the latter case by Jose Cardenal's two homers and Williams' second of the week), Bill Hands muffled St. Louis 3-2 and the 30-year-old rookie, Carmen Fanzone, got three RBIs in a 5-3 game against Montreal.
"They're playing their heads off," Gene Mauch said of his Expos. "That's the best lineup we have. I'll just leave them in there." Sure enough, Montreal—which had lost eight games at New York and Pittsburgh—won all three against Philadelphia at friendlier Jarry Park. Ron Fairly's three-run homer won the opener on Victoria Day, another Fairly homer broke a tie the next day, and then Carl Morton had a one-hitter, throwing exactly 90 pitches.
"They have to do it themselves with the arms and bats on the field," Phillie Manager Frank Lucchesi said sorrowfully. "My
4% contribution is not enough. But I'll take suggestions from anyone, even the press." Five regulars slipped below .215 as Philadelphia lost its 10th straight game.
St. Louis spoiled a homecoming for Manager Yogi Berra by beating Tom Seaver and the Mets 6-2, as Joe Torre hit a home run and a double.
NY 26-10 PITT 21-13 CHI 18-16 MONT 16-20 PHIL 15-20 ST. L 14-23
The Houston Astros (page 28) won their sixth straight game by defeating second-place Los Angeles 5-3 Friday before 36,328, the Astrodome's largest crowd in four years.
The Dodgers' Walt Alston has often replaced 32-year-old Golden Glove First Baseman Wes Parker with 22-year-old Bill Buckner, 29-year-old hot-hitting Second Baseman Jim Lefebvre with Bobby Valentine. 22, master Shortstop Maury Wills, 39, with Bill Russell, 23, and gets help from 23-year-old Steve Garvey. Result: Valentine is hitting .328, Russell .333, Garvey .265 and Buckner .250. "There's no doubt that fellows like Wills are going to make fewer mental errors." Alston says, "but those kids are going to get to balls the others won't." Nevertheless Los Angeles lost three of four.