"I'm ahead of last year in every aspect," said Joe Morgan of Cincinnati (6-1) as he assessed his chances of repeating as MVP. Last week he batted .318, drove in nine runs and became the first second baseman since 1950, and the fourth ever, to get 100 RBIs in one year. Morgan also became the first player at any position to amass 100 walks, 50 steals, 25 homers and 100 runs in a single season.
Steve Yeager of Los Angeles (2-3) was simply glad to be alive. "Another inch and he would have been a dead man," said the surgeon who operated on Yeager after he was struck in the throat by the jagged end of teammate Bill Russell's broken bat while in the on-deck circle.
Houston (2-5) was homerless, but J. R. Richard won his 17th game and the Astros put together an eight-run inning to overhaul Cincinnati 10-5.
Reliever Butch Metzger of San Diego (4-4) won for the 11th time, Randy Jones stifled Houston for his 21st victory and Doug Rader hit the team's first homer in 14 games.
San Francisco (5-3) bumped Atlanta (1-4) out of fifth place as John Montefusco (15-12) picked up 5-0 and 4-2 wins.
CIN 92-51 LA 79-60 HOUS 71-74 SD 67-78 SF 64-80 ATL 60-80
"The way we're going right now, I think you could take nine guys off the street, put Pirate uniforms on them and they'd win," said Pittsburgh Outfielder Al Oliver. The way the Pirates (4-2) were going was up: they now trail the Phillies (2-5) by only four games. Bruce Kison (12-8) and Larry Demery (10-4) muzzled Philadelphia 6-2 and 5-1 in a double-header, Jim Rooker (13-7) beat them 6-1 and Jerry Reuss (13-8) and Kent Tekulve held off the Expos 4-3. Richie Hebner, who has been hitting in the low .200s all season, batted .500 and socked the Pirates' only homer of the week, while Oliver was tied for third in the hectic race for the batting title with a .331 average.
Last season's batting champion, Bill Mad-lock of Chicago (2-5), hit .438 and took over the league lead at .341, passing Cincinnati's Joe Morgan. Rick Monday of the Cubs twice led off games with homers, the seventh and eighth times he has done so this year.