Thanks to Philadelphia's 1-5 week, St. Louis slipped into first place by the margin of a Joe Torre whisker (the hirsute Joe could spare one); to be exact, by .001. The team has come to be known as the St. Louis Red Sox since the trade that brought Sonny Siebert, Lynn McGlothen and Reggie Smith from Boston. Siebert was at 5-3, with all four decisions at home winning ones. McGlothen was 7-2 and Smith was hitting .375. This week Smith had 10 hits in 22 times up, including three home runs, five doubles and eight RBIs. St. Louis was 4-2 for the week even though ace base thief Lou Brock sat it out with a shoulder injury.
Backup Catcher Bob Stinson was responsible for Montreal's third win over a Western Division club in 14 tries. His three-run, pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning tied Saturday night's Atlanta game, setting the stage for Ken Singleton's winning hit in the 10th.
New York stopper Tom Seaver was hit hard in Cincinnati, giving up four runs in the first two innings, but he came back Saturday in Shea Stadium to defeat Houston 3-1, allowing rive hits and striking out 11. Manager Yogi Berra had said, "There's nothing wrong with Seaver physically. He's just in a slump like hitters sometimes have." Chicago's season-long infield blues were sung louder after Matt Alexander, who had done an able job filling in at third base, pulled a leg muscle Saturday in a 10-0 loss to L.A. Inability to hit in the clutch was another problem. An additional woe: pitching. That, said Vice-President John Holland, "has been our biggest problem of all."
Pittsburgh was winning at last, thanks in part to the power of First Baseman Bob Robertson, who had been used intermittently because of anemic hitting. Back into the lineup, he smashed six home runs in six games.
ST.L 25-22 PHIL 26-23 MONT 21-20 NY 21-28 CHI 18-26 PITT 18-27
The Dodgers continued to pound National League pitching as if they were adults playing Little League. Willie Crawford drove in two runs and scored three against the Giants. Ken McMullen and Joe Ferguson hit two-run homers as part of a 20-hit barrage in St. Louis. Bill Russell, Bill Buckner and Rick Auerbach got nine of the Dodgers' 15 hits in a game at Chicago, and the next day Ron Cey, playing before a cluster of his wife's relatives in Wrigley Field, had two home runs and a single for seven RBIs. He also had hit four singles in one game earlier in the week. And what did Manager Walter Alston think of his offense? "I guess it's the best we've ever had," he said.
Cincinnati enjoyed a 5-1 week, but still trailed L.A. by eight games. However, Pete Rose was not relishing his role as a villain in enemy ball parks, nor was he happy about his batting slump. He ended the latter in a three-game series with the Mets, getting five hits in 12 at bats in a Reds sweep. Atlanta was keeping up with Cincy, and the reason, said Ralph Garr, was, "Our pitchers just ain't giving nobody no respect." True, the Braves' staff gave up only two runs in 30 innings against Phillie, but Garr himself was a principal reason for Atlanta's good showing. He continued to lead the league in batting average (.389) and hits (82) but not modesty: "As a player, there really ain't nobody you can compare me with."
Houston had a nice 4-1 week, taking three straight from Montreal and routing New York's Jerry Koosman. Cesar Cedeno was 2 for 4 against the Expos Thursday, 4 for 5 versus the Mets Friday and hit his 11th homer (off Tom Seaver) on Saturday.