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A two-game sweep in Cincinnati moved Los Angeles (4-1) into first place. The Dodgers won 4-2 behind Tommy John (4-0) and 14-4 as they walloped three home runs. Dusty Baker, usually a slow starter, lifted his average to .366 with a .556 week. Rick Monday, who leads the majors in homers with eight and the league in RBIs with 22, kept the Dodger attack going by driving in six runs.
Pounding the ball, too, was Jeff Burroughs of Atlanta (3-3), who took over the league lead with a .413 average. Phil Niekro, who had been 0-4, baffled the Giants 3-1 and the Cubs 5-0 with his knuckleball.
After the Giants had scored only one run in each of four straight losses, Willie McCovey called a San Francisco (2-4) team meeting and told his mates they were pressing. McCovey then helped the Giants relax. He drove in four runs to beat Atlanta 5-3, and the next day Stretch hit a three-run double in the ninth to jolt Pittsburgh 5-4.
The Padres (2-4) made their first flight aboard a 727 bought by owner Ray Kroc, who fitted the jet with 60 first-class seats. San Diego then got a first-class performance from Gaylord Perry, who stopped Houston 2-1.
The Astros (3-3) lost 6-3 to Montreal as rookie Tom Dixon surrendered two runs on successive balks. Another rookie, Denny Walling, fared better, his single in the 10th nipping the Padres 4-3. Three-hit pitching by Joaquin Andujar and Bob Watson's third homer of the week knocked off Montreal 3-1.
LA 13-6 CIN 13-7 HOU 10-11 SF 9-10 SD 7-11 ATL 6-13
Corks went pop and champagne flowed in the Minnesota (2-4) clubhouse after a 6-1 win over Oakland. Such festivities are usually reserved for momentous victories, which was precisely what the Twins felt their triumph was because it ended Minnesota's losing streak at nine games. The ninth loss had been particularly painful, Dan Ford having driven in seven runs, including a go-ahead pair in the 12th, before the A's pulled it out 9-8. Footing the bill for the bubbly was Rod Carew, who had called a pregame meeting to tell his younger teammates not to be downhearted and then whacked four hits.
Texas (6-1) was the only team to gain on first-place Oakland. Richie Zisk topped off his four-homer, 10-RBI week with two game-winning home runs. One of Zisk's clouts came in the 11th and did in Detroit 2-1, and the other was a two-run drive in the ninth that stunned Boston 5-4. First Baseman Mike Hargrove homered in three games in a row and also executed the hidden-ball trick to nab Cleveland's Paul Dade off first.
Willie Wilson of the Royals (4-3) put his extraordinary speed to good use. During an 11-2 rout of Milwaukee, Wilson turned a routine double into a triple; in another inning he stole second and scampered home on an infield single. There were, though, two blue notes for Kansas City: Third Baseman George Brett was expected to be out for 10 days with a shoulder contusion, and injury-plagued Pitcher Steve Busby was sent to the minors after being clubbed by the Brewers.