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THE WEEK (April 21-27)
Herman Weiskopf
May 06, 1974
NL WEST
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May 06, 1974

The Week (april 21-27)

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NL WEST

During a game at Dodger Stadium a message for Catcher Joe Ferguson was flashed on the scoreboard: YOU'RE A POPPA/IT'S A GIRL/8 POUNDS, 9 OUNCES/AT 2:51/AND MOM IS DOING FINE. The Dodgers had a message of their own for the rest of the league: beware of L.A. pitching. Don Sutton improved his record to 4-1 with a 6-1 win, and the next day Tommy John completed a three-game sweep of the Phillies with a four-hit, 1-0 performance. That brought John's ERA down to 0.86 and made him 5-0, the first Dodger ever to win five times in April. After losing their week's opener, the Dodgers won five games, yielding just seven runs. Their pitchers' timeliest helper was Tom Paciorek, whose pinch three-run homer in the ninth toppled the Phillies 5-3. Manager Walter Alston, 62, took a few spins on his new motorcycle, then explained, "Just trying to close the generation gap." Meanwhile the Dodgers opened a 3�-game gap over the second-place Astros.

Ron Bryant of the Giants became the first major league streaker when he scampered up and down the aisle of the team bus. In the ball park it was the Mets' turn to strip Bryant, 6-0. But Mike Caldwell, whose trade for Willie McCovey had prompted WHO'S CALDWELL? headlines, beat Montreal 8-2 to bring his record to 4-1.

Despite hitting only three homers all week, Cincinnati won four of six. The Reds beat the Cubs 1-0 behind Jack Billingham when George Foster walked with the bases full in the bottom of the ninth.

Attendance continued to lag in Atlanta, with a mere 6,834 fans out for a two-game series against Pittsburgh. Richie Hebner of the Pirates visited a local wax museum one afternoon and said the figures "reminded me of Atlanta fans; they just stand there." Henry Aaron, though, did not just stand. Three times he trotted around the bases after homering. Two of his drives were game winners, a two-run homer beating the Pirates 3-2 and a grand slam snapping a 3-3 tie en route to a 9-3 victory over the Cubs. That raised Aaron's home-run total to 719, and his bases-loaded smash was the 15th of his career, a league record.

Houston hit a resounding .313 as a team, the most Astronomical of the batters being Tommy Helms (.476) and Bob Watson (.458). Claude Osteen contributed to a 4-2 week by blanking the Braves 7-0.

Everyone in San Diego agreed something had to be done after a 10-1 loss to the Reds had dropped the Padre record to 3-13. So Manager John McNamara had the players discard their white spikes and don black ones. And just like that the Padres were transformed, winning five of their next six outings. Dave Freisleben, 22, up from Hawaii, pitched a four-hit, 6-2 victory over the Phillies in his big-league debut.

LA 15-5 HOUS 12-9 CIN 10-8 SF 11-9 ATL 11-10 SD 8-14

NL EAST

Last year Ken Reitz of the Cardinals strongly resisted tips from Harry Walker, then the batting instructor. "I'm a pull hitter," said the brash Reitz. "Walker cost me 30 points on my average trying to get me to go to right." This spring Manager Red Schoendienst suggested that Reitz choke up on his bat. Now Reitz has put all the advice together and leads the majors with a .421 average. He got to the top by hitting .632 last week, in one game finishing off the Reds 4-3 with a 10th-inning double. Lou Brock, with six more steals, was off to his fastest start ever: 12 successful thefts since being caught in his first try. Poor pitching, however, resulted in a 2-3 Cardinal week.

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