After Tom Seaver of the Mets (4-4) had baffled the Pirates 5-0 and 6-2, Stargell paid tribute to his fastball by saying, "We were lucky we weren't playing on a prairie. If we had been, he might've started a brush fire." Jerry Koosman became a 20-game winner for the first time in nine seasons. His 4-1 win over St. Louis was his 14th victory in his last 16 decisions, during which time he has had a 1.69 ERA.
St. Louis (6-3), which is 22nd in the majors in homers, hit seven last week. Other notable deeds: Tom Walker, who had just one save, preserved both ends of a doubleheader as the Cardinals, who had not taken a twin bill all year, swept two in four days; Bob Forsch, who failed to go the route 29 times, pitched his first complete game; and John Denny beat New York 7-0 to lower his ERA to 2.56, second only to Seaver's 2.38.
Rick Reuschel and Ray Burris won their 13th games for Chicago (3-4). Montreal (2-6) clinched possession of the cellar.
PHIL 89-58 PITT 85-62 NY 78-70 CHI 68-81 ST. L 67-80 MONT 50-96
They played footsie in the West. Oakland Owner Charlie Finley opened his mouth and—no surprise—stuck his foot in it, and his players were, for a change, caught flat-footed on the base paths. The Royals also got tangled up while running the bases, but managed to put their best feet forward when it counted most. Finley first spoke up when he tried to woo five unsigned A's—Joe Rudi, Rollie Fingers, Bert Campaneris, Don Baylor and Gene Tenace—with new contracts. They all turned him down. Then, while watching the Royals drop a doubleheader to the White Sox, Finley gloated, "They're choking. The Sox sweep just gave us the pennant." Not quite. Even though Vida Blue won his fourth and fifth games in a row and Mike Torrez his sixth straight, the A's (4-3) fell 5� behind the Royals. Oakland, which has averaged better than two steals a game, had just one in three games against Texas (3-4). Cutting down the A's repeatedly was Ranger Catcher Jim Sundberg.
The Royals (5-3) ran themselves in and out of trouble. Tom Poquette, who should have gone from first to third on a single, was tagged out at second after hesitating on his way to third. But later that night he put his feet to better use, chasing down a low liner in left field with the bases loaded to preserve a 3-2 triumph over Chicago for Dennis Leonard (17-8). White Sox Pitcher Ken Brett picked three Royals off first in one game, but one of those base runners, Fred Patek, eluded a rundown and made it to second while Frank White scored from third with a vital run in a 6-5 victory. Brett, who earlier had stopped the Royals 5-4, wore an I LIKE GEORGE BRETT T shirt under his uniform and admitted, "I couldn't help smiling" each time brother George batted for K.C. George went three for nine against Ken last week. Also helping Kansas City rebuild its lead, which had shrunk to 3� games on Wednesday, were a pair of five-hit victories by Marty Pattin and Andy Hassler.
Still very much in the running for the batting title were Rod Carew (.331) and Lyman Bostock (.327) of Minnesota (3-4), who trailed Kansas City's Hal McRae (.335) and Brett (.333).
Although failing to hit a homer, California (4-4) clung to fourth place as Nolan Ryan zapped Kansas City 2-1 and Gary Ross blanked Minnesota 6-0.
Some Chicago (4-5) players seem to have gone years without a hit. But one who had actually been without one for more than a decade finally came through on his fourth time at bat this season. Fifty-three-year-old Designated Hitter Minnie Minoso, who recently was put on the roster as a Bill Veeck publicity stunt, poked his first hit since 1964.