In San Francisco the frustrations were piling up. It did nothing for the club's puny attendance when beer sales at Candlestick Park ceased because the concessionaire drew a 10-day suspension of its beer license. But what did Owner Horace Stoneham care—he was trying to sell the club. For those still in his employ, it was another scratchy week. The Giants were 3-4 as Bobby Murcer slumped and much-touted Pitcher John D'Acquisto was sent to the bullpen. Desperate for a hype, the club pointed newsmen to a lefthander out of Brooklyn's Lafayette High School. No, Sandy Koufax was not making a comeback. But Pete Falcone did beat Atlanta 7-1.
As if they needed it, the 4-2 Dodgers kept finding more depth. Could they use a third starter? Search no farther than Doug Rail, 5-1, who two-hit the Astros 2-0. A fourth starter? Burt Hooton, formerly of the Cubs, went six strong innings before Mike Marshall lost to Pittsburgh in relief. Some timely hitting? Even the pitchers—Rau, Don Sutton and Andy Messersmith, who went 4 for 9—helped. "Our whole staff can hit," said Sutton. "We don't embarrass ourselves. Walter Alston even lets us hit-and-run." A last-minute outfield switch? Tom Paciorek, rushed into right field, responded with a homer and two singles. "I jogged three miles in the morning because I didn't figure I'd play, and I had a tennis match after the game," said Paciorek. The Dodgers used Paciorek's bat to bop Pittsburgh 6-2.
If Cincinnati doesn't have the best team, it may have baseball's best player in Joe Morgan. As the Reds won five of six, Morgan, who is among the league leaders in batting, walks and stolen bases, was unstoppable. In a 7-3 win over San Diego he homered, tripled, singled, stole a base and scored twice. The next night the Padres walked him four times—and he scored three runs. Once previously Morgan had walked five times. Did he score five runs? "I was with Houston," he said. "I probably scored none."
If this seems like a harsh statement, consider the Astros. In a routine week they lost six of seven games and a pitcher, Dave Roberts, who jumped the club and was suspended. After losing seven of eight, Atlanta beat the Giants 3-2 and the Phils 3-1 and 2-1. Ron Reed, who had been kicking water coolers during a previous losing streak of his own, won his third straight. "You don't see that Mickey Mouse stuff anymore," he said. "We're contenders now." Um, not quite yet.
LA 20-11 CIN 18-13 ATL 16-16 SF 14-15 SD 14-16 HOUS 10-23
As the Phillies strengthened themselves, the Pirates made a show of strength, playing their best baseball of the year in winning four straight and moving from fourth to second. Ken Brett, Jerry Reuss and Bruce Kison beat the Mets (2-1, 6-1, 4-2) and Dock Ellis stopped the Dodgers 11-3. New York, by contrast, lost all five of its games and dropped from second to last. Facing 32 consecutive games against Western Division clubs, the Mets are testing the faith of their gotta-believers.
Chicago continued to be unbelievable. The Cubs were 5-2 in a week in which Outfielder Rick Monday and Reserve Infielder Rob Sperring collided (no serious injury) and Don Kessinger, Manny Trillo, Steve Stone and Rick Reuschel were sidelined. Most encouraging was Bill Bonham's three-hit 7-0 shutout of Montreal.
Nonetheless, the Expos took four of their first five games in a 13-game home stand. Dennis Blair started things out by beating the Cubs 3-2 for the first Expo win by a righthander. Rookie Third Baseman Larry Parrish, who hit .421 for the week, won the game with a homer, prompting Manager Gene Mauch to undiscuss his hitting. "Sometimes you get paralysis from analysis," he said.