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Instrumental in Oakland's trio of wins, Reggie Jackson hit them long and he hit them short. In an 8-6 defeat of Boston, Jackson had three hits and five RBIs, his jazziest blow a bases-loaded double that caromed off first base. Jackson slugged his 30th home run as the A's clipped the Angels 6-3 and hit No. 31 to put down the Rangers 2-1. In two other games, however, the A's were beaten.
Kansas City (8-1) refused to roll over. Indeed, the Royals whacked three games off the A's lead Al Cowens had 10 RBIs, John Mayberry tied Jackson for the league home-run lead with his 30th and 31st, and George Brett and Harmon Killebrew also did some swinging. Brett, who bedeviled Chicago with a 12th-inning go-ahead single in a 4-1 game and with a homer in a 5-4 verdict, stung California with five hits and four RBIs in a 5-2 game and walloped a two-run homer in a 6-3 victory. After Hal McRae hurt his rib cage fouling off a White Sox pitch, Killebrew finished his turn at bat for him by socking a two-run homer that brought a 3-1 triumph. Paul Splittorff had a pair of "bookend" decisions, breezing past Chicago and New York by identical 7-0 scores.
After the Twins had voted overwhelmingly that former teammate Jim Kaat of the White Sox (3-4) was the best lefty in the league, he helped sustain their opinion with a 5-2 win, his 20th. Rich Gossage chalked up his eighth triumph as well as his 23rd and 24th saves; he has accounted for a remarkable 47% of Chicago's 68 victories. Although committing nine errors and giving up 15 walks in two games against Texas, Minnesota (2-2) took both. Rookie Jim Hughes held off the Rangers 5-3 for his 13th win.
California and Texas were both 2-5. Frank Tanana of the Angels struck out 14 as he stopped the A's 4-1, and Lee Stanton had five RBIs in a 6-4 decision over the Rangers. Nolan Ryan was expected to undergo surgery for bone chips on his pitching elbow. Gaylord Perry of Texas was a winner for the 15th time, knocking off Oakland 4-2 on a two-hitter. But Ferguson Jenkins lost twice as he was tagged for three home runs, which increased his total to 35, highest in the majors.
OAK 83-56 KC 79-61 TEX 69-73
"Choke. Choke. Choke." That was the chant taken up by some Boston fans during a two-game series in Baltimore, their derisive retort to Oriole Manager Earl Weaver's comment that the Red Sox would collapse in the stretch. The Sox (4-3) showed no signs of folding the way they did late last season, beating the Birds 3-2 and 3-1. In the first game the Sox got a gift run when Jim Palmer lost his usually impeccable control and walked four batters in a row. Boston won it in the 10th on Cecil Cooper's homer, giving Rick Wise his 18th win, the 13th in his past 16 decisions. Boston let it all hang out in a week-ending 24-hit, 20-6 blitz of the Brewers, in which Dwight Evans had five of the hits. Injury-hampered Catcher Carlton Fisk somehow managed to slightly aggravate his split ring finger while caring for the tomatoes he grows at home, but he was healthy enough to drive in seven runs last week.
Cleveland (4-2) zoomed to within two games of third-place New York (3-5). An eighth-inning homer by Rico Carty stunned the Orioles 2-1. Then, against the fast-crumbling Brewers, the Tribe romped 11-3 and 10-5. Catfish Hunter of New York mastered Detroit 8-0 for his 19th win and 26th complete game, the most by a Yankee since Carl Mays had the same number in 1921. Thurman Munson, trying to become the first Yankee to amass 100 RBIs since Mickey Mantle in 1964, had 10, bringing his total up to 89.