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"I'm tired" said Mike Marshall, the last man one might expect to admit to such human frailty. But he was not too tired to appear in six games, increasing his record total to 105, and had two wins and one save. Andy Messersmith needed relief help from Marshall to become the league's first 20-game winner as the Dodgers, 5-2, clinched a tie for first place. Third Baseman Ron Cey finished off the Braves 5-2 with a 10th-inning double and Leftfielder Bill Buckner did even better in a 4-3 win over Atlanta by getting four hits and robbing Dusty Baker of a two-run homer with an over-the-fence catch.
"I believe in miracles," said Dave Concepcion of the Reds. Failing that, Cincinnati got .600 hitting from Concepcion and won five in a row after a loss to the Giants. However, Cincinnati's two best starters were below par. Don Gullett had a bad back and Jack Billingham admitted he had "nothing" on the ball after yielding a total of 21 hits and 16 runs in six innings in his last three games.
Phil Niekro of Atlanta lost to L.A. 2-1 on a 10th-inning passed ball, then earned his 19th win, over Houston, by holding the Astros hitless for the final seven innings. In that game Henry Aaron had three hits, one his 600th double.
LA 100-59 CIN 97-62 ATL 86-73 HOUS 79-79 SF 71-88 SD 59-101
The proverb about sleeping dogs, or other fanged animals, was not heeded by the Cardinals, who were to regret arousing the usually somnolent Cubs. During a melee at home plate St. Louis Catcher Ted Simmons slugged Bill Madlock of Chicago. That upset the Cubs, who were further angered because Simmons was not ejected—and later got the game-winning hit. Five days after that incident the awakened Cubs overcame a 3-0 deficit and beat the Cardinals 8-3, the most telling blow a three-run triple by Madlock. The setback knocked St. Louis from first place, putting the Cards a full game in back of revitalized Pittsburgh.
The Pirates won the first of three games in St. Louis 1-0 on a 10th-inning hit by Richie Hebner and the pitching of Jim Rooker and Dave Giusti; they took a half-game lead over the Cardinals by dumping them again, 7-3; then were bumped back to second as St. Louis scored four times in the 11th to prevail 13-12. Pittsburgh moved into a tic for first by drubbing the Mets 11-5 and the next day both leaders won, Bob Gibson driving in four runs as the Cardinals defeated Chicago 10-4 and Jerry Reuss of Pittsburgh nipping New York 2-1. But while the Cardinals were jolted by the Cubs on Saturday, the Pirates won again, 7-3, behind Rooker, who has a 1.63 ERA and seven victories since Aug. 25.
Montreal, 6-2, pulled to within one game of third-place Philadelphia, 4-3. Two-time winner Mike Torrez became the first Expo starting pitcher ever to take six in a row. While winning three of four from the Cubs, the Expos stole 16 bases, with Larry Lintz nabbing six to raise his total to 50, an impressive figure for one who has just 76 hits all season. For the Phillies, Jim Lonborg and Steve Carlton both got their 16th wins.