The White Sox found themselves desperately clinging to third place instead of battling for second. One trouble was formidable pitching from the opposition, especially the Twins' Bert Blyleven who got 12 strikeouts against the bottom half of Chicago's batting order during a 6-0 Minnesota win. Wilbur Wood won his 24th game against the Twins Saturday night, his fifth win in six starts against that club. The Rangers were not performing for Billy Martin any better than they did for Whitey Herzog. They had a 2-4 week and were 18� games behind fifth-place California.
OAK 86-61 KC 80-68 CHI 73-75 MINN 71-75 CAL 69-76 TEX 51-95
"There's no sense playing 162 games to finish last," said the Phils' Greg Luzinski, who slammed his 26th and 27th home runs of the season and helped Jim Lonborg beat the Mets 6-4. Then, at the end of the typical below-.500 Phillie week, Luzinski was hit over the left ear by Montreal's Balor Moore; so much for the rewards of enthusiasm. Manager Danny Ozark ordered his pitcher, Steve Carlton, not to retaliate and Carlton, who won 27 last year, went on to suffer his 19th loss. Meanwhile, the rest of the division was displaying different kinds of strain and pain (page 24).
PITT 74-71 MONT 73-73 ST. L 72-75 NY 72-76 CHI 70-77 PHIL 65-83
The Reds could do nothing wrong in a 6-0 week. In one game against the Dodgers, Pitcher Jack Billingham, three for 84 at the plate, came to bat in the second inning with the bases loaded. Manager Sparky Anderson took a deep breath and let him swing away. Billingham hit the first pitch for a double. "You know, he's the worst hitter in the world," said Anderson. "The worst who ever lived. He can't run a lick, either.... But I told him to go ahead and hit, and kee-ripes, he did. Maybe there's magic in this world after all." Two recent recalls, Ken Griffey and Ed Armbrister, knocked in five of the six runs in Cincy's other win over L.A., and Bobby Tolan, jeered by the fans because of his brief walkout and troubles with management, delivered a game-winning single against Atlanta. Sounds magical.
The Dodgers had lost 11 of their last 12, their worst slump in 12 years, before they finally beat Houston on Thursday 8-6. Pitcher Don Sutton praised Manager Walt Alston's patience: "If I were the manager, I'd have had to dismantle the clubhouse a couple of times."
"We made too many mistakes," said Manager Charlie Fox after his Giants lost to San Diego 4-3 and fell 8� games out of first. Three straight losses in Atlanta did not help, either. "Next year our first priority is acquisition of pitchers," said Giant Business Manager Jerry Donovan. "We need them regardless of the price in players or money."
Astro pitching prospect James Rodney Richard suffered a shoulder separation in a motorcycle accident, provoking Manager Leo Durocher to say, "A guy with his future? How can he do that? How can he get on a motorcycle? I just can't believe it." Richard, a 6'8" righthander, had a 6-2 record with 75 strikeouts. Leadoff man Jim Wynn had two doubles and two singles in an 8-6 loss to L.A., a team that has been trying to acquire him for three years. San Diego's bright moments: Dave Roberts hit safely in his 12th straight game; Rookie of the Year candidate John Grubb hit safely in his ninth.