- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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During the break for the All-Star Game, Pittsburgh Pitcher Jerry Reuss "slept late, sat on the porch, heard the crickets chirp, stuck my feet in the Atlantic Ocean and washed away the first half of the season." Reuss had to wash away a lot, particularly his 4-10 record. Clearly cleansed, Reuss recorded his second straight post-vacation, complete-game victory by downing the Braves 6-3. Relievers Kent Tekulve and Rich Gossage also helped the Pirates (6-1) advance to within a game of first place. Tekulve did not allow an earned run in 5? innings and won twice, improving his record to 9-1. His first win came when the Bucs scored twice in the bottom of the 13th on singles by Rennie Stennett, Ed Ott and Omar Moreno and a bases-loaded walk to Jim Fregosi to beat the Braves 7-6. Tekulve's second triumph was a 3-2 decision over Houston, Stennett singling across the clinching run in the 11th. Gossage registered his 17th save, preserving John Candelaria's 11th victory by containing Houston 3-2. Then, after the Pirates scored five runs in the top of the eighth, Gossage blanked the Braves for two innings to secure a 10-6 win. Bill Robinson walloped his second grand slam in three days during the five-run uprising. In all, Robinson had four homers and drove in 13 runs.
Looking scruffy is Al Hrabosky's way of cleaning up his act. St. Louis (7-1) owner Gussie Busch gave Hrabosky permission to regrow the mustache and beard that new Manager Vern Rapp had ordered shaved off last spring. The hirsute Hrabosky looked in a mirror and said, "I felt like cutting my throat before. Now I see something ugly. That's good." Better still for the Cardinals were Hrabosky's third win and his eighth save, the former coming when the Cardinals rallied past the Braves 5-3, the latter when they scored four times in the eighth to overhaul the Reds 4-1. Eric Rasmussen and John Urrea got 3-0 wins over the Reds and the Braves, respectively. Rasmussen, who paid $150 during the off-season to have his first name legally changed from Harry to Eric, continued his mastery over the Reds by throttling them 10-3 with the aid of a grand slam by Keith Hernandez. In wrapping up a 7-1 home stand, St. Louis had a six-game winning streak, its longest in more than two years. That spurt gave the Cardinals a 37-18 record at Busch Stadium.
Chicago (4-5) had to scramble, scrape and scratch to stay in first place. Rick Reuschel (15-3) won twice, baffling the Reds 3-0 and beating them in relief two days later. In that game Cincinnati led 6-0 in the first, 10-7 in the third, 14-10 in the eighth and 15-14 in the 12th—only to lose 16-15 in the 13th. Reuschel began the decisive rally with a single, sprinted to third on a single by Steve Ontiveros and scored on a single by Dave Rosello. Reuschel was the 13th and last pitcher used in the four-hour-50-minute marathon. Two major league records were equaled as the teams slugged five home runs in the first inning and 11 altogether. The Cubs hit six, including two each by George Mitterwald and Bill Buckner. All told, Chicago had 24 hits, Cincinnati 19.
Also doing some robust hitting were the normally anemic Mets (4-2), who pounded out 30 hits while knocking off the Giants 8-3 and 7-4. A home run by Felix Millan, the first given up by Giant Reliever Gary Lavelle in 114 innings over the past two seasons, was instrumental in the second win. Rookie Steve Henderson continued to hit well, batting .435. Craig Swan gave up just three hits as the Mets defeated the Dodgers 1-0, and Jerry Koosman, aided by Skip Lockwood's 16th save, downed the Padres 4-1.
Playing it safe, the Expos (3-6) learned, was not all that safe. To provide their starting pitchers with ample rest, the Expos had them travel in advance of the team. However, all three—Wayne Twitchell, Don Stanhouse and Steve Rogers—came up losers. Routine bunts also caused trouble for the Expos; they botched five in a row. One attempt was turned into a double play even though the prospective bunter, Pitcher Stan Bahnsen, did not make contact with the ball. When Bahnsen took a pitch instead of bunting, Wayne Garrett was thrown out going to third base and Pete Mackanin was doubled up after getting a late start for second.
Troubled, too, were the Phillies (4-4). Returning from the West Coast, they were not greeted at the airport by the usual chartered bus and had to shuttle to the Veterans Stadium parking lot aboard an air-freight truck that Steve Carlton labeled Noah's Ark. It was well past 3 a.m. before most of the Phillies got to bed. That night they forgot to cover bases and muffed fly balls, and Pitcher Randy Lerch took a full windup that allowed Willie McCovey to steal second during San Francisco's 7-0 romp. But the next day the well-rested Phillies drubbed the Giants 9-3 as Carlton won his 14th game. Greg Luzinski hit his third homer of the week and 24th of the season in that contest. During the week, Luzinski had 10 RBIs, giving him 25 in 17 games. Jim Lonborg stopped the Dodgers 5-1 on two hits, and Garry Maddox' 12th-inning triple beat the Padres 6-4.
CHI 59-41 PITT 59-43 PHIL 58-43 ST. L 56-47 MONT 48-53 NY 42-58
The Astros and Giants won doubleheaders; the Reds achieved individual goals but were being called the Big Dead Machine; the Padres got a rare complete game; and the Braves were happy to be home. But only the Dodgers (6-2) had a winning week. Dramatic home runs propelled Los Angeles to a pair of wins. Davey Lopes, given a life after Met Rightfielder Bruce Boisclair dropped his foul fly, beat New York with a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth. And Pinch Hitter Lee Lacy hit a two-out, two-on homer in the eighth to lift the Dodgers over the Phillies 7-5. Tommy John (11-4) beat Philadelphia 2-1, Doug Rau (12-2) stopped Montreal 4-1, Reliever Mike Garman saved three games, and suddenly the Dodgers had a 14-game lead over second-place Cincinnati.