Even blas� Atlanta was beginning to gasp over Henry Aaron. After he hit homers 695 and 696 against New York The Atlanta Constitution described Aaron's quest as "perhaps the greatest sports story of this age." For his part Aaron was helping his team in several ways. He gave a hitting tip to Paul Casanova, who homered to beat Philadelphia. Later Aaron hit No. 697, and the Braves' attack bristled with 21 hits in a 15-6 rout of Montreal. Dusty Baker hit .520 for the week.
Los Angeles rebounded smartly from a six-game losing streak, taking five of six. Don Sutton, Andy Messersmith and Tommy John won complete games while Willie Davis, angered over being left off the All-Star team, hit .370. "There's too much sentimentality involved," he fumed. "It's more or less a popularity contest."
San Francisco's Bobby Bonds, who also may not have enough votes to start in the NL outfield, conceivably could win the batting triple crown—and as a leadoff hitter. "Leading off, I come to bat more times and occasionally in the late innings when a pinch hitter replaces the pitcher, the leadoff spot becomes cleanup," he said. Just about everyone was cleaning up on the Astros—in 17 consecutive games against losing teams they are 6-11. Pitcher Don Wilson lost his 10th during Houston's 3-4 week and charged into the Philadelphia stands after some brotherly lovers.
San Diego Manager Don Zimmer's book has some unusual pages. He let Pitcher Randy Jones bat with the bases loaded and the Padres trailing by one run in the sixth. Two innings later he had Dwain Anderson, a .136 hitter, lay down a suicide squeeze. Yet the moves worked ( Jones stayed in to win and Anderson bunted well) and San Diego beat the Cubs 4-2. Cincinnati's Jack Billingham threw a four-hitter and a two-hitter, the latter for his 13th win on Friday the 13th. With Roger Nelson, Gary Nolan and Joe Hague returning from injuries after the All-Star break, there were omens of better days to come.
LA 58-34 SF 51-41 CIN 50-41 HOUS 49-46 ATL 43-51 SD 31-59