Cincinnati owed its woes to former college stars. The Giants' Jim Barr, from USC, beat the Reds 3-2 and ended their win streak at four. Then Dave Roberts, the Padres' No. 1 draft choice from the University of Oregon, got three hits, including a key double in the 13th inning, to hand the Reds a 4-3 loss. But the Reds' West Coast swing was not a total failure. Gary Nolan beat L.A. for his 10th win and his seventh on the road against no losses.
Houston was winning through pure power. The Astros were sixth in the league in hitting and pitching, and eighth in fielding, but through Friday night they had 71 homers, matching their total for all last season. Even little Second Baseman Tommy Helms had four homers, exceeding his last year's output by one. Los Angeles gave Houston one of its victories by committing two errors in the ninth. Earlier in the week the Dodgers had five errors and lost to the Reds 5-4. "We manage to get our errors together, but not our hits," said Manager Walter Alston.
With youngsters Darrell Evans and Dusty Baker in military service, Atlanta's bats were mostly muffled, though Henry Aaron hit homers 14 and 15 and passed Lou Gehrig on the major leagues' alltime RBI list. He is now second to Babe Ruth in that category, too. With Orlando Cepeda gone to Oakland, Aaron is now at first base permanently.
Bobby Bonds and Willie McCovey started hitting again for San Francisco, but Infielder Chris Speier was hottest. His run-scoring single helped Jim Barr beat Cincy and he had three hits against Atlanta. He insisted it was just "luck." In any case, the Giants climbed out of 24th place in the majors, passing San Diego by winning four of five at home. There were rumors that Owner Horace Stoneham would sell the attendance-poor Giants. Stoneham denied them.
CIN 41-27 HOUS 41-28 LA 36-32 ATL 31-36 SF 28-46 SD 24-44
Returning to Three Rivers Stadium after losing two to the Mets, the Pirates found their field high and dry following the flood, but the club offices were damaged. Worse, Pirate bats were soggy all week except for two noteworthy shows: 12 hits in a 9-2 win over the Cubs and 11 hits (four by Manny Sanguillen) in a 9-0 romp over the Expos.
Though Daniel Joseph Staub rusted in press boxes nursing his sore hand, New York still managed to creep up into a virtual tie with the Pirates. Good pitching made up for the absent slugger. Jerry Koosman struck out nine Pirates in winning his fifth straight game, Tom Seaver looked strong beating the Phils 3-2 and forkballer Danny Frisella had three scoreless innings of relief to help beat the Expos 7-3.
Rookie Rick Reuschel, a farm boy from west-central Illinois, won two games for Chicago, giving up only eight hits in 16? innings against the Phils and Pirates. "He may change the outlook around here," bubbled Leo Durocher. The Cubs also resumed their system of fines for blunders, known as Rockhead Roulette. And not necessarily speaking of rockheads, Joe Pepitone came out of retirement and got himself a hit.