One of the sorest Met losses was to the Expos, who set team records for hits and runs in a 19-8 tearaway. Montreal won six of its last seven games in a 6-3 week despite giving up 38 runs. How? Easy. They scored 63 times on 83 hits, 26 of the runs in a 12-8, 14-6 doubleheader win over Houston. Catcher John Boccabella became the 18th man in major league history to hit two home runs in an inning, and one of those was a grand slam. The barrage landed Montreal securely in third with a .500 record.
But the real pressure for the Cubs seems to be coming from St. Louis, which has played at a 37-18 clip since May 10. The Cards lost only three times in eight games and won three of four from Pittsburgh. Lou Brock raised his career total for stolen bases to 589, overtaking Maury Wills and hoving into 14th place on the alltime list. He has stolen more bases than any man in the majors in the last 43 years.
CHI 49-36 ST. L 43-39 MONT 40-40 PHIL 38-44 PITT 37-43 NY 34-45
"You can't play here and be happy," said Oakland's Reggie Jackson after a 3-1 loss to the California Angels. "I don't mean the owner [ Charlie Finley], he's fine. But somebody makes a mistake and the coaches start hollering and kicking watercoolers. They act like they were Babe Ruth, like they never made any mistakes. With these coaches you get two home runs and they say, 'Well, that's your job.' "
"Tell Jackson I'm tired of watching him play half the time, too," retorted Coach Jerry Adair.
In that frame of mind the Athletics prospered, as is their wont, winning five of eight. Catfish Hunter won twice—his seventh and eighth in a row—to make his record 13-3. Blue Moon Odom got his first win since May 12 in a doubleheader sweep of the stumbling White Sox.
Chicago, with leg miseries hobbling four regulars, dropped six of 10 although Wilbur Wood, who had lost six straight and nine of his last 11, finally won No. 15. Despite the shocking slump, he is one win behind Denny McLain's 31-game winning pace of 1968.
Kansas City's Ken Wright gave thanks to the team's "visualization" expert for a four-hit, complete-game win over Detroit. The win extended a Royal streak to five and moved KC from fifth to second in the standings, one game behind Oakland. The Royal offense, which had been sagging, exploded for 12 runs on each of two consecutive nights.
California split six games while Minnesota split eight. The Twins' Tony Oliva became the first designated hitter to clout three home runs in a game—which Minnesota lost anyhow—but the big news was the debut of Eddie Ban, Minnesota's collegiate version of Texas' David Clyde. The Arizona State University ace attracted 45,890 in his first start (a Metropolitan Stadium regular-season record) and went seven innings, allowing just one run and three hits before being lifted with no decision. Alas, Minnie lost that game, too, to Kansas City 5-4.