Despite a ho-hum 4-3 week, the Pirates extended their division lead to a downright historic 12 games. The last time a Pittsburgh team led the National League by 12 games was in 1902.
Ron Santo of the second-place Chicago Cubs made a little history himself when he socked his 2,000th hit—appropriately a home run—in a free-swinging 10-9 win over the Giants. Santo had hit only two homers in the previous 47 games, and he matched that total in the shootout with San Francisco.
Another homer slump ended when Joe Torre of the Cardinals hit his first in two months during a game against San Diego. Torre had accepted the shortage philosophically. "I figured I'd probably hit another one before I retired," he said. And to prove perhaps that good things come in bunches, Torre's teammate. Pitcher Reggie Cleveland, finally won his 13th game that same night. The victory came after five consecutive unsuccessful starts.
Bad things also come in bunches. The New York Mets dropped out of second place for the first time in 68 days, and their injury list, which already read like the Titanic's passenger manifest, grew even longer. Shortstop Bud Harrelson, who had been sidelined 25 days with a bad back, came down with a strained right knee on the second night after his return to the lineup. Third Baseman Wayne Garrett hurt his foot with a foul tip in the same game.
Montreal's usually tough Relief Pitcher Mike Marshall has found it a mind-boggling experience pitching against his former Houston teammates. He had a typical case of mental strain last week when he gave up a two-run homer to Jimmy Wynn while trying to protect a 3-1 lead for Bill Stoneman. Still, Marshall won the game 4-3 by doubling home John Boccabella. Because a pitcher is paid for his throwing, not his hitting, Marshall remained disturbed. Manager Gene Mauch thinks he knows the cause of the problem, if not the cure. "Because of the animosity between Mike and the Houston club, he is trying too hard to beat them," Mauch explains.
There was also distress in Philadelphia, where Steve Carlton's 15-game winning streak was stopped when Atlanta's Mike Lum hit an 11th-inning broken-bat single. Then Shortstop Larry Bowa and Manager Paul Owens exchanged nasty words. Bowa was unhappy over being benched the day before a day off. "Who needs a rest?" he snapped. "No way I can buy that. I don't think they would be able to trade me for a star, but there are a couple of teams who might be willing to fork up a fringe player or two in a swap for me." Owens was not impressed with such touching modesty. "Doesn't he realize I'm trying to give him a rest? He's not too smart. The trouble with him is he gets two hits, and we lose, and he's happy. Then when he gets no hits, and we win, he's burned up."
Finally, there was Phillie Pitcher Ken Reynolds, who lost his 12th straight game. "When Steve Carlton was running up his winning streak he knew he was chasing Rube Marquard," said Reynolds, "but who am I chasing?" The answer, Ken, is H. John Nabors of the old Philadelphia Athletics, who lost 19 straight in 1916.
PITT 74-45 CHI 64-57 NY 61-56 ST. L 58-61 MONT 55-64 PHIL 44-75