Atlanta's Phil Niekro lowered his ERA to 2.52 and improved his record to 18-12 by stopping San Diego 3-1 and Houston 1-0, driving in the winning runs in both contests. Houston took two of three from Los Angeles, 7-0 behind Tom Griffin and 3-2 in 10 innings on a pinch double by Bob Watson.
LA 95-57 CIN 92-61 ATL 84-69 HOUS 77-75 SF 70-84 SD 56-98
While St. Louis and Pittsburgh continued their struggle for first place (page 26), the rest of the Eastern teams tried to salvage what they could from the waning season. Philadelphia lost four of five but ended a six-game losing streak by drubbing Montreal 10-2 as Steve Carlton picked up his first win in almost seven weeks.
Montreal, 4-2, tied a club mark by extending its victory streak to eight games before losing. The Expos played three consecutive 3-2 games against the Mets, winning two of them, and closed out their series with a 4-0 win. Dale Murray pitched 6? innings of scoreless relief to save three games.
New York had just two homers, but both were instrumental in wins. Rusty Staub's drive plus stout relief work by Tug McGraw enabled rookie Randy Sterling to defeat the Expos 3-2. Wayne Garrett's three-run poke helped Jerry Koosman down the Pirates 4-2.
The Cubs had more fun than they have had all year, winning four in a row and five of six. They scored twice in the ninth to beat the Mets 5-4, took three straight from the Phillies and frolicked past the Cardinals 19-4. Young players did some robust hitting: Ron Dunn had three doubles in one game, Steve Swisher a grand slam in another.
ST.L 81-71 PITT 80-71 PHIL 74-77 MONT 71-79 NY 68-83 CHI 64-87