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Lou Brock was not the only base stealer helping St. Louis move into first place. Bake McBride swiped seven, along with ripping four hits in each of three games. In the longest night game ever (7:04), he scored the deciding run all the way from first on an errant Met pickoff attempt in the 25th inning. McBride also drove in the go-ahead run in a 17-inning, 7-3 scramble with the Phillies.
St. Louis would not have ascended to the top had Pittsburgh not executed extraordinary ineptitudes in losing five of seven. The Pirates' final two defeats came against the Expos. Montreal won 3-2 on two unearned runs and 17-2 when the Pirates recorded three errors, a balk, a wild pitch and 13 walks.
Philadelphia edged back into contention with a 5-2 week. The Phillies twice knocked off the Cardinals, with one of the wins coming on Jim Lonborg's two-hitter, 2-0. They also outlasted the Cubs 11-10 and decked the Pirates with a pair of eighth-inning onslaughts. Bill Robinson's three-run pinch homer dumped Pittsburgh 8-5 in one of those games, and the next day the Phillies shocked the Pirates 6-4 with a six-run outburst in which Mike Schmidt hit a three-run homer and Del Unser a two-run drive.
Montreal reclaimed fourth place from New York. In winning six of eight, the Expos received nine RBIs each from Barry Foote and Mike Jorgensen. Tom Seaver won twice for the Mets, who fell to fifth when they lost a pair to the Cubs. Chicago stymied New York 4-3 on rookie Ron Dunn's homer in the 11th inning and 12-0 as Burt Hooton tossed a four-hitter to earn his first win since Aug. 1.
ST. L 78-68 PITT 77-68 PHIL 73-73 MONT 67-77 NY 66-78 CHI 59-86
Cincinnati Manager Sparky Anderson gambled and his Reds gamboled. Saving his best pitchers for a weekend series in Los Angeles, he started rookies Tom Carroll and Pat Darcy in a doubleheader against Atlanta. Carroll did not pitch well, but the Reds came from four runs down to beat the Braves 9-6 in the first game. Dave Concepcion ignited the rally, scratching out a hit, stealing second and third, and scoring on an error. Cesar Geronimo capped the five-run uprising with a grand-slam homer. In the nightcap, Darcy, who had just been brought up from Indianapolis, was a 6-2 winner as Johnny Bench hit a grand-slam home run and drove in all six runs. That victory ran the Red winning streak to four games following a week-opening 7-4 loss to the Dodgers in which Reliever Mike Marshall had set a major league mark by appearing in his 93rd game.
By the time the Reds arrived in L.A., shutouts by Don Sutton (1-0 against the Braves) and Al Downing (11-0 versus the Giants) had helped push the Dodgers' consecutive victory total to five. That was when Anderson brought out his best starters, Jack Billingham and Don Gullett. Although the Dodgers outhit them 10-5 in the opener, the Reds won 6-3 as Billingham recorded his 19th victory and Concepcion slugged a three-run homer. The shortstop scored another run after once again stealing second and third. Those thefts gave him 37 for the season and 23 in a row without being caught. Game Two also went to the Reds, 4-2. Gullett and Clay Carroll held the Dodgers to five hits while Joe Morgan and Tony Perez homered.
Four losses to Los Angeles and Cincinnati wiped out Atlanta's slim pennant hopes. Carl Morton finally won his 15th game with a 7-3 victory over the Padres. Earlier he had lost three attempts for the win by scores of 3-0, 2-0 and 1-0. For the Braves it was their 14th straight conquest of the Padres.