Despite two rain-outs and losing one of their last four games, the Cubs increased their division lead over the Mets to four games. "Maybe we've come up with the answer to perpetual motion," said Manager Whitey Lockman. "Since time immemorial, people have been looking for something that can run on its own—maybe that's us." Chicago certainly was not running on Ferguson Jenkins' arm. Jenkins is becoming increasingly distressed over the home-run pitches he has been serving. So far this year he has given up 15 in fewer than 11 full games. Willie Mays took a few days off from the Mets to go home to San Francisco and think about his waning career, and thus missed a 19-inning, five-hour and 42-minute marathon 7-3 win over L.A. "I finally found out what time of day I hit best," said Met Third Baseman Ken Boswell. "One-thirty in the morning." Rusty Staub went five for nine in the game. Oh, well, the Mets needed the work, anyway. They had been rained out three times the week before moving on to sunny L.A. Cleon Jones came out of the game with a sore right wrist and had to be scratched from the lineup the next night, and Jon Matlack, who kept the pitching chart (301 pitches), suffered a blistered left index finger from his pencil work.
The Phillies' Steve Carlton could not hold a four-run lead against the Pirates, and saw his record stay at 4-6. He also complained about "guys who have written about seeing me in a bar having a drink, as though that had something to do with the way I'm pitching. I've taken a drink all my life, going good or bad." A happy note for Philly: tall Wayne Twitchell beat the Pirates for the second time in less than a week 7-4. An unhappy note for Philly: Wayne Twitchell struck out four times, making it eight whiffs in a row to break the league record for strikeouts in successive games. Within easy reach is Sandy Koufax' record of 12 strikeouts in consecutive at-bats.
Manager Bill Virdon was still confident his Pirates could win without his making changes. "I think we have the best personnel in the league," he said. Steve Blass, a 19-game winner last year, gave Virdon encouragement in a 5-4 win over the Phils. "It feels good to be able to come into the clubhouse and look everyone in the eye," Blass said.
The Cardinals' maligned bullpen has improved. In their last 12 appearances, covering 16 innings, Diego Segui, Rick Folkers and Wayne Granger have allowed only four hits and no runs while picking up six saves. And starter Alan Foster, a sensation in spring training but a loser in his first three decisions, has allowed only two earned runs in his last 27 innings. But St. Louis was still at the bottom of the division.
The Expos have been rained out so many times this season that Coach Jerry Zimmerman looked up one day, saw the sun and said, "It's a UFO." They took the Canadian weather to the Bay Area with them, and on a bitterly cold and windy night in Candlestick Park beat the Giants 5-2.
CHI 26-17 NY 20-19 PITT 17-19 MONT 17-20 PHIL 17-24 SL 15-24
The Astros' Jerry Reuss won his sixth victory in seven decisions with a five-hitter against Pittsburgh, but the talk in the Houston locker room was about the trade of a reserve catcher, Larry Howard. He was dealt to Atlanta for a minor-league catcher, Tom Heirele, even though he was the only experienced backstop behind starter John Edwards (who has been injured). "This one thing has done more to disrupt this ball club than anything that has happened all year," said a veteran player. Howard was hitting only .167 when he departed, but he was good at handling pitchers.
San Francisco's Bobby Bonds had a sore arm, but in his hotel room he threw bunched-up towels around to loosen it up, took his name off the can't-play list and got three hits, including a homer, against Atlanta. He also stole three bases to help Juan Marichal beat the Braves for the first time since 1969. "We've come back to the pack," said Bonds, "but there's just too much young talent on this team. We'll catch another streak pretty soon. We're gonna win the pennant."