Philadelphia (3-5) fell three games behind. Tom Underwood, who is 10-1 at home, lost twice on the road, where he is 2-9. But Larry Christenson, whose bad back once prompted a doctor to urge him to limit himself to nothing more arduous than playing a violin, subdued the Dodgers 4-2 and the Giants 3-1. In the Dodger game Mike Schmidt tied teammate Greg Luzinski for the major league home-run lead by blasting No. 31. Tom Hilgendorf provided some much-needed pitching help when he forkballed his way through 7? innings of shutout relief as the Phillies trimmed the Giants 8-3.
"He's so good he could take a sponge to the plate and hit line drives." That was Pete Rose on Bill Madlock of Chicago, the league's top hitter at .362. Against Rose's Reds this season Madlock is 28 for 52 (.538).
Baseball came up with its own version of The Godfather. While with San Diego, Nate Colbert of Montreal became fast friends with Randy Jones, who chose him to be his daughter's godfather. When Colbert faced Jones last week it almost seemed he had a contract on his buddy, battering him for three hits, including a homer, as Montreal won 10-8. Reliever Dale Murray of the Expos (4-2) started the week with his third win over the Dodgers in as many days and ran his string of homerless innings to 83?. After being ejected by Bruce Froemming for calling him "a little bleep," Catcher Barry Foote explained that the 5'8" umpire "doesn't like being called 'little.' "
PITT 74-58 PHIL 72-62 NY 71-63
ST. L 71-63 CHI 61-73 MONT 58-74
Plunk. Plunk. Plunk Craig Kusick of Minnesota (4-1) tied a major league record by being hit by three pitches in one game, the last plunk coming with the bases full in the 11th, enabling the Twins to beat Milwaukee 1-0. Bert Blyleven, 6-4 on July 6, went all the way to improve his record to 14-6. Like Blyleven, Gaylord Perry of Texas (5-1) has won eight and lost two since the first week of July. Perry, now 14-15, trimmed Detroit 3-2. More good pitching came from rookie Jim Umbarger, 22, who beat the Tigers 1-0 and the Brewers 8-3.
The only other winning team in the West was California (4-2). Frank Tanana stopped the Yankees 9-0 and the Tigers 8-1.
Another youthful pitcher, Dennis Leonard, 24, of Kansas City (3-3), outdueled two of the league's finest hurlers. Leonard knocked off Jim Palmer and the Orioles 4-3 and then got the upper hand on Catfish Hunter and the Yankees 5-2. And Reliever Rich Gossage, 24, of Chicago (2-5) got his 21st and 22nd saves, coming to the rescue of venerable lefties Claude Osteen and Jim Kaat. Gossage preserved a 2-0 win over the Indians for Osteen and a 4-2 decision over the Orioles for Kaat. Switch-hitting Ken Henderson homered from both sides of the plate in Kaat's triumph, his 19th.
OAK 80-54 KC 71-60 TEX 67-68
CHI 65-69 MINN 63-70 CAL 62-73