Los Angeles, which had won 21 times during the month of June, started July with six straight defeats. Then Don Sutton went the route to beat the Pirates. When LA defeated Pittsburgh the next night as well, Sutton commented, "I said early in the year we would be the best ball club in the National League, but we'd have to pass the acid test by showing we can bounce back from rough times. I think we showed that after those six losses. We're going to be tougher now."
The second-place Giants failed to capitalize on the temporary Dodger collapse, losing five games themselves. The only contender to improve its position substantially was Cincinnati, which took the last three games of a four-game series from LA and two of three from the Giants. The Reds' top Giant killer has been slender Dave Concepcion, batting .487 against San Francisco pitching this year. Fred Norman has turned killer, too. Acquired from the Padres on June 12 with a 1-7 record, he got his sixth victory with his fifth complete game in six starts as a Red.
With Houston reeling, Coach Preston Gomez called a pep meeting. The Astros then swept a doubleheader from the Braves. But the inspiration was short-lived. Houston dropped the next four straight, giving up 39 runs.
The Braves got a shutout from Carl Morton, a five-hitter from Roric Harrison and a two-hitter from Ron Schueler, but Brave pitchers yielded a total of 61 runs in six other games, losing four. Still, Henry Aaron hit No. 694, and an Atlanta bank promised 700 silver dollars to the retriever of No. 700. No one was putting a price on No. 715.
Steve Arlin pitched his second straight shutout for San Diego, a two-hitter, as the Padres swept three from the Dodgers to move within 21 games of the lead. "If we'd played like this since the start of the season, there never would have been any thought of moving [to Washington]," said President Buzzie Bavasi.
LA 53-33 SF 48-39 CIN 46-38 HOUS 46-42 ATL 38-49 SD 30-54
Chicago still held a sound lead, but there were intimations of a slide. Owner P. K. Wrigley was happy to see the Cubs' home stand completed and eager to pick up the check for all the players' wives and children to go on their annual team trip—this time to the West Coast. Chicago finished the week with just three wins in seven games, and even the Phillies, who beat the Cubs two out of three at Wrigley Field, were talking pennant. Steve Carlton pitched his first complete victory since June 8 and Rookie Dick Ruthven threw a two-hit, 1-0 shutout at Bob Gibson and the Cardinals. But it was still surprising that a crowd of 58,294 turned out to watch the Phillies when they came in off the road. They promptly lost that game 8-2 to Cincinnati, then lost another.
The Pirates took a five-game winning streak west, and it went west, Pittsburgh dropping five of six. For the Mets, miseries multiplied. They continued to lose games—and players. The latest casualties were George Theodore and Don Hahn, victims of an outfield collision. The New York Post ran a ballot on its back page with pictures of Manager Yogi Berra, General Manager Bob Scheffing and Chairman of the Board M. Donald Grant, inviting readers to vote which one should be fired—or all.