All four contenders took turns in first place, with Kansas City winding up half a game ahead of Chicago and Texas and one game in front of Minnesota. The Royals (4-3) started off with three losses and fell to fourth, but then John Mayberry poked his 18th homer and Hal McRae broke a tie with an eighth-inning single as the Royals upended the Indians 5-3. Dennis Leonard, who was 4-8 on June 20, used his new slider to beat Cleveland 4-0 on a four-hitter that made him 13-10. Then came 9-3 and 5-2 wins over Boston. Three Royal home runs settled the first game, and Doug Bird wrapped up the second with his sixth save, his fourth in nine days.
Like the Royals, the White Sox (1-4) dropped their first three outings. But Wilbur Wood's five-hit, 3-1 win in Milwaukee enabled Chicago to leap from third place to first. Wood, who has been having trouble with his knuckleball, began delivering the ball straight overhand, used more fastballs than usual and won for the first time in almost a month. Richie Zisk's 26th homer and Oscar Gamble's 25th provided all the runs Wood needed.
Texas (4-3) started off by outlasting Chicago 12-9 as Mike Hargrove homered for the fourth game in a row. After his streak ended, Hargrove homered again as Doyle Alexander (13-7) muffled Milwaukee 11-3. The Rangers beat Toronto twice, Jim Sundberg singling in the last of the 10th for a 6-5 verdict and Dock Ellis pitching a shutout the next day. Texas then lost twice to New York, despite the heroics of Hargrove and Gaylord Perry. Hargrove led off a game with a homer for the fourth time in eight days, and Perry fanned three Yankees to increase his career total to 2,802 and bump Mickey Lolich out of fifth place on the alltime strikeout list. Bert Campaneris stole five bases, and Claudell Washington drove in 10 runs.
With lefty Rudy May pitching for Baltimore, left-handed swingers Rod Carew and Lyman Bostock, the No. 1 and No. 3 hitters in the league, were benched by Minnesota Manager Gene Mauch. No sweat, their fill-ins did pretty well, Craig Kusick homering twice and driving in five runs and Bob Gorinski getting a homer and two RBIs as the Twins (2-5) won 13-9.
Frank Tanana of the Angels (2-3) gave up 11 hits to the Blue Jays, but hung on for a 7-4 triumph, his 14th. Using an opened-up delivery and new grips on all his pitches, Paul Hartzell beat Toronto 7-2. Said Hartzell of the changes made at the urging of Pitching Coach Marv Grissom, "Moving my lead foot slightly to the left takes a lot of strain off my shoulder, and the grips eliminate tipping my pitches." During Hartzell's win, Bobby Bonds hit his 30th homer to tie Jim Rice of Boston for the league lead.
Bringing up the rear were Seattle (2-5) and Oakland (1-4). "Anybody who can win seven games in a row for an expansion team is some kind of pitcher," said Mariner Manager Darrell Johnson after Glenn Abbott used his sinkerball to induce four double plays in a 3-2 defeat of Detroit. Two homers by rookie First Baseman Jerry Tabb helped Vida Blue and the A's knock off the Indians 7-3.
KC 68-51 CHI 67-51 TEX 68-52 MINN 69-54 CAL 58-60 SEA 50-75 OAK 44-75
It's a gutty feelins, the guys hollering for each other," said Mike Torrez of New York after beating Chicago 6-2 on six hits. "Everybody's jumping off the bench to shake hands. It's like a fire that spreads." With the Yanks (7-0) hollering for rather than at each other and with them shaking hands instead of fists, they moved into a virtual tie with the Orioles for second place, 1� games behind the Red Sox. Torrez (14-10) also defeated Texas 8-1 on four hits for his sixth complete-game win in a row. During that stretch he has given up only 29 hits and has a 1.33 ERA. "I like to be the spark plug," said Mickey Rivers, who hit .353 and drove in 10 runs. "I like to ignite things." Rivers touched off a 15-3 victory over the Angels and a 7-5 win over the Tigers with leadoff home runs. Graig Nettles chipped in with his 27th and 28th homers. But the most dramatic blow was a two-run, bottom-of-the-ninth shot by Chris Chambliss that stunned Chicago 11-10. With Don Gullett disabled with a sore arm, Dick Tidrow started for the first time in more than a year and won twice. Three saves by Sparky Lyle gave him 19 for the season.