There seemed to be no catching the Dodgers (3-4), however. Reggie Smith unloaded his 21st homer, Dusty Baker his 20th, and Rick Rhoden (13-7) blew his fastball past the Reds for a two-hit, 1-0 victory.
Rookie Catcher Gary Alexander hit .438, drove across eight runs and homered twice for San Francisco (4-3). The error-prone Giants did not commit one as they swept a doubleheader from Houston. Jim Barr notched his 11th win and Gary Lavelle his 16th save as the Giants took the opener 4-3, and rookie Bob Knepper won the nightcap 5-0.
Relievers had a hand in all the wins for San Diego (6-2). Rollie Fingers earned his 25th and 26th saves and eighth victory, Dan Spillner preserved an 8-6 decision in Chicago, and Rick Sawyer was a 2-1 winner over Atlanta. Manager Alvin Dark revealed that for more than a month he has had Pitching Coach Roger Craig flash signals to Padre pitchers from the bench. "The pitchers don't like it, but I've only done it when I had a young pitching staff or an inexperienced catcher," Dark said. " Craig is the first pitching coach I've had who has called the signs. He calls the pitches for everyone except [Randy] Jones and Fingers. They know how to pitch." Jones finally gave some indication of being over his arm trouble, giving up three runs and six hits in 5? innings in an 8-6 win over Atlanta. "I threw the sinker harder than I've thrown it all season, and for the first time since last year I could actually see it sink," said Jones, who got 14 of his 17 outs on grounders. "Now it's just a matter of regaining stamina. I'm not worried about my arm anymore."
"I feel I'm capable of being the best pitcher in the league." No, that was not Randy Jones still talking. That was Dick Ruthven (4-8) of Atlanta after he had beaten Montreal 6-2. "The main thing is to develop myself mentally in order to be in the class with guys like Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton and Don Sutton," Ruthven added. Other Atlanta (2-4) pitchers also displayed a need for development, two of them ending successive 2-1 losses in San Diego by walking Padre batters with the bases loaded. Jeff Burroughs slammed his 29th and 30th homers in losing causes, but Rod Gilbreath hit a grand slam in the top of the ninth and drove in all the Braves' runs in a 5-2 win over the Dodgers.
LA 70-46 CIN 58-57 HOUS 54-63 SF 53-64 SD 53-67 ATL 41-73
The Red Sox (4-1) continued to wallop homers and lengthened their lead to 2� games. Bernie Carbo snapped a 1-1 tie in Oakland with a home run in the ninth, and Fred Lynn added a three-run drive to make Rick Wise a 5-2 victor. Carbo also clouted a two-run pinch homer in the eighth for an 11-10 win over the Angels, who had led 10-5 in the seventh. Jim Rice's 30th homer—his 20th at Fenway Park—aided Wise as he won again, this time 7-2 over Seattle. Then the Sox connected for four home runs as they trounced the Mariners 13-6. George Scott, Butch Hobson and Dwight Evans hit successive homers in that game, the 14th time the Sox have hit two or more consecutive homers in one inning this season. The 1964 Twins hold the league record of 15.
Tight pitching and clutch hitting gave Baltimore (5-2) a lift. Ross Grimsley allowed only four singles as he defeated Cleveland 3-1. Jim Palmer, who got a shot of cortisone for his aching arm, silenced Oakland 6-1 with a two-hitter. Homers by Ken Singleton and Elliott Maddox made Rudy May a 5-4 winner over Seattle. The Orioles' other May—Lee—polished off the Mariners 4-3 with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth.
Mike Torrez and Reggie Jackson had their finest weeks for New York (5-1). Pitching with the three days' rest he prefers, Torrez beat Seattle 7-1 and defeated Oakland 3-0 on two hits. Jackson hit his 20th and 21st homers, threw two runners out from right field and ran the bases aggressively. Chris Chambliss hit three home runs, two as Catfish Hunter beat the Angels 10-1 on a six-hitter.
Detroit (4-3) held a two-game lead over Cleveland in the fight for fourth place. Dave Rozema beat Milwaukee for his 12th triumph, and Milt Wilcox held off Minnesota 2-1 as Steve Foucault came on to earn his second save of the week. For offense, the Tigers relied on Jason Thompson's three homers and Ron LeFlore's .379 hitting.