- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Philadelphia's Shortstop Larry Bowa proved he is a good listener. "During batting practice, Pete Rose told me I was hitting the ball like a girl," Bowa says. "He told me I'd never take much of a ride on one of my hits." Before the three-game series against the Reds was over, it was Bowa who was needling Rose. Although he had hit only four homers in the past seven seasons—one for every 1,024 at bats—Bowa swung like a man and sent the ball over the fence as the Phillies (3-3) took the first game of the series 10-4 to end a nine-game, two-season losing streak against Cincy. Then, after walloping the first grand slam of his career in the seventh inning of a 15-9 Phillie victory the next night, Bowa could not resist getting in a few words to Rose as he rounded third base. "You can take a long ride on that one, Pete," he said. (Making Bowa's homer even more stunning was the fact that it was the first grand slam allowed in 21 years of pitching by Reliever Joe Hoerner.)
Bowa's listening paid off in another way. During the previous week's 3-2 loss to Cincy's Fred Norman, Bowa was told by Umpire Billy Williams, "You guys are swinging at his motion, and you're all way out in front of the ball." Bowa relayed the advice to his teammates, who shelled Norman in the 10-4 victory. Mike Schmidt kept up his robust slugging by hitting four homers, giving him 19 for the season, and Steve Carlton got his 100th win for Philadelphia and his 177th overall when he stopped Atlanta 4-2 on six hits.
It was almost time to rename the Pirates the Pittsburgh Slumber Company. But after manufacturing only 13 runs in their last six games, the Bucs' batters started to hammer away. In their next six games, the Pirates (5-2) scored 39 runs. Pittsburgh ended a seven-game losing streak by overcoming San Diego 5-3 when Phil Garner snapped a 3-3 tie in the eighth with a homer. Wayne Twitchell of Montreal silenced the Pirates with seven innings of perfect pitching, but Bill Robinson opened the eighth with a single and the Bucs went on to score four runs in the inning. Pittsburgh finally caught the Expos at 5-5 on Bobby Tolan's ninth-inning pinch hit and won 6-5 in the 10th, when Garner doubled and Robinson singled him home. Bruce Kison nailed the Expos 10-2 the next day, and for the first time this season, he finished without a blister on the middle finger of his right hand. Blisters had plagued Kison since he broke his fingernail in spring training. To try to toughen the nail, he had taken cod-liver oil, wheat germ, vitamin E. He even had a manicurist fit the finger with a ceramic nail, which fell off when he pitched. When Kison faced the Expos, his nail had grown sufficiently, and he went the distance without trouble.
Bobby Murcer of Chicago (5-1) enjoyed a rousing homecoming during his first game at Candlestick Park since he was traded from San Francisco. He slammed two doubles and a home run and drove in six runs. However, the Cubs did not finish off the Giants until the 12th inning, when Mick Kelleher drove in the go-ahead run with a triple. Also helping to keep the Cubs in first place was Rick Reuschel (10-2), who beat the Mets 5-0.
New York (2-3) scrambled past Montreal and out of the basement, thanks to Craig Swan's 8-2 win over Houston and a dramatic 5-2 verdict over Atlanta. Ed Kranepool tied the latter game at 2-2 when he homered in the last of the ninth. Then Steve Henderson, one of the players acquired in the Tom Seaver trade, hit a three-run homer in the 11th. Beleaguered M. Donald Grant, the man who engineered the Seaver deal, was so enthused by Henderson's poke that he bounded out of his box seat and onto the field to congratulate the new leftfielder.
Steve Rogers and Gary Carter of Montreal (2-4) excelled during a 6-0 defeat of Houston. Rogers (9-5) allowed only four singles in pitching his third shutout. Carter got four hits that day and batted .435 during the week.
For Eric Rasmussen of St. Louis (3-3), there was no place like home. His five-hit 7-1 victory over Philadelphia gave him a 6-3 record at Busch Stadium. On the road, he is 0-5. Bob Forsch (9-4) also defeated the Phillies, winning 3-2 with the aid of Ted Simmons' two-run homer and Rawly Eastwick's first save as a Cardinal. A pinch single in the 10th by Lou Brock resulted in a 4-3 win in Los Angeles. Ace Pitcher John Denny was again placed on the disabled list because of a pulled left hamstring.
CHI 44-22 PITT 37-29 ST. L 37-31 PHIL 36-31 NY 29-39 MONT 28-38