The Atlanta Braves had a player other than Henry Aaron to lionize last week as Third Baseman Darrell Evans led a surge of five straight wins over St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Chicago. Batting ahead of Aaron, Evans reached base 17 times in one series of 18 at bats. His only failure was a sacrifice fly that scored a run. "The biggest help to me," said Evans, "was having Henry hit behind me. They have to pitch to me." He might have mentioned also the advantage of having a professional softball player for a mother. As for Bad Henry, he hit three out to trail Ruth by only 23.
San Francisco stayed near the top of the division thanks to Pitcher Ron Bryant's assorted talismans. With his teddy bear in its proper place on the bench and a piece of bubble gum for every anticipated victory filling his hip pocket, Bryant extended his personal winning streak to eight games by defeating New York 2-1 and Philadelphia 4-3. But the other Giant pitchers faltered, including Juan Marichal, who hasn't had a complete game in his last four starts.
Los Angeles kept pace with the leaders, thanks in part to Pinch Hitter Steve Garvey, whose bases-loaded triple beat Philadelphia 8-6. "Unless you win a game with one hit," said Garvey after doing just that, "it's hard to feel part of the club. I don't want to become known as a 24-year-old pinch hitter."
Bob Watson's versatility rescued Houston. On Wednesday night his two run-scoring singles helped trim Chicago 6-1. On Thursday night, after moving from left field to behind the plate when Catcher John Edwards went out of the lineup with viral hepatitis, he beat St. Louis with a home run, 3-2. "I'm going to hit wherever I play," he said.
Cincinnati (page 24) lost five of six but San Diego continued to be the class of baseball's cellar dwellers. The Padres lost their eighth straight, 10-2 to New York. "I'm dangling from a noose, gasping for breath," said Manager Don Zimmer. "I'm going bananas." Yes, but will he be going East when the franchise moves to Washington at the end of the season?
SF 40-26 LA 38-25 HOUS 35-30 CIN 32-29 ATL 27-35 SD 20-44
The recent success of the Montreal Expos, whose winning streak reached seven games last week, should not be so surprising, according to Manager Gene Mauch. "When good things start to happen, you begin to expect more good things," he said. The philosophy no doubt explains the triple play and Mike Jorgensen's three-run homer that beat San Diego 3-2, Steve Renko's six-hitter against the Padres in a 5-3 triumph, and the eighth-inning homer by Bob Bailey that tripped Los Angeles 4-3. Jorgensen's lively bat was a long time coming. "The one good thing about hitting .196," said Mauch, "is you know it won't last."
The same theory might also apply to Chicago's series-winning effort in Houston, the Cubs' first in almost four years. It was especially sweet coming as it did with Leo Durocher in the Astro dugout. When he was at Chicago, Leo used to complain that it was impossible for his Cubs to win in the Astrodome. Chicago remained consistent in at least one respect. By defeating Atlanta 4-3 on Jim Hickman's home run the Cubs followed a loss with a win for the 11th-straight time.