Gulp. That was the loudest sound Philadelphia (0-5) fans could muster. Phillie hitters gave them nothing to shout about, producing just three runs in the last four games of the week, three of them one-run setbacks. Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, Dave Cash and Jay Johnstone hit a combined 175 as the Phils extended their losing streak to seven.
While the Phillies slipped, the Pirates zipped. Pittsburgh (6-0) ran its string of victories to nine and. during an eight-day stretch, chopped Philadelphia's once-imposing 15-game lead in half. More than anything it was superb pitching that carried the Bucs back into the race, with John Candelaria winning twice and the staff allowing the Padres only one run during a three-game sweep. Jerry Reuss and Larry Demery pitched shutouts, and Bruce Kison won 4-1.
Strong pitching also buoyed New York (3-2), but it was robust hitting that helped Chicago (3-1). Rick Monday raised his home-run total to 27 with two blasts in an 8-5 win over St. Louis. And Jerry Morales drove in four runs—two on a 14th-inning single—as the Cubs bounced the Braves 7-5.
Steve Rogers continued his superlative pitching for Montreal (1-5), defeating San Diego 3-0, then losing to Los Angeles 2-1. In his past eight starts Rogers has had a 2.14 ERA, but because of the Expos' silent bats he has won just three times, all of them shutouts. After dropping doubleheaders on successive days, Manager Karl Kuehl was put out of his misery; he was replaced by former Giant skipper Charlie Fox.
PHIL 83-49 PITT 76-57 NY 68-65 CHI 62-72 ST.L 57-71 MONT 43-85
"I'd better take Japanese lessons. I'll need them with the Tokyo Giants next year if we lose this thing," said Cincinnati Manager Sparky Anderson as he tried to make light of his team's dwindling lead. In four weeks the Dodgers have cut the Reds' margin from 13� games to seven. Four saves were registered by Charlie Hough, who now has 14, as Los Angeles won five in a row and finished its best August (19-10) since moving west in 1958. The only game Hough did not have a hand in was a 2-1 win over the Mets. Tommy John hurled a six-hitter for that victory, and Reggie Smith hit a two-run homer.
The Reds (3-2) also relied heavily on one reliever—Rawly Eastwick, who earned his 10th win and 19th save. Clearly, Eastwick has been out of this world. Now it turns out he wants to depart from it in another way. "I would like to travel spiritually to another country or maybe another universe," says Eastwick, a believer in OOBE (Out-of-Body Experiences). "We have no idea what we can do with our brain power. We can create positive energy, turn a thought into a reality." Eastwick's brain power—and control—failed him, though, when he walked in a run in the 11th inning of a 1-0 loss at St. Louis.
"I'm a native of Houston and I've been with the Astros all their 15 years, but only recently have I felt safe to walk the streets of this city," said Lynwood Stallings, the team's director of scouting. What made him feel safe was a string of excellent pitching performances. Joe Sambito, 24, stopped St. Louis 6-0 on four hits. Then came a sweep of Philadelphia: Dan Larson, 22, won 3-1 with a five-hitter; J.R. Richard, 26, gave up seven hits in a 3-2 game; and Bo McLaughlin, 22, won 1-0 while yielding only six hits.