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While New York (7-1) and Boston (2-5) went head to head at the top, Milwaukee (5-2) and Baltimore (4-2) kept gaining. The Brewers, 10 games behind on Aug. 14, have chopped 5½ games off the lead by going 19-8, primarily against losing clubs. While Milwaukee beat up on Texas, Seattle, Toronto and Minnesota last week, Larry Hisle reached the 30-homer and 100-RBI plateaus, and Bill Travers won his 18th game. But the Brewers also had two painful losses—Mike Caldwell throwing away a 3-0 lead in losing 4-3 to Seattle, and Jerry Augustine, Bill Castro and Bob McClure together squandering a 4-2 advantage as the Brewers fell 5-4 to Toronto. Nonetheless, Manager George Bamberger, who has had a brilliant first season, went right on insisting, "I have a feeling we're going to catch them. Yes, both clubs."
The Orioles broke out the champagne—not for getting back in the race, but for twice beating the Blue Jays, who had defeated Baltimore seven out of 10 times. The Orioles looked as if they could beat better clubs, too. Getting three saves from Don Stanhouse, they extended their latest hot streak to 16-4. Stanhouse even saved one game without throwing a pitch; he picked Carlton Fisk of the Red Sox off first with two out in the ninth. "I put the runner to sleep," said Stanhouse. "I needed an easy save. Look at all the tough ones I get."
Detroit (3-4) could not keep up with the winners, dropping one to Kansas City and three of four to New York. Ron LeFlore's 27-game hitting streak was stopped by the Yankees, and he muffed a fly ball in the same game. Cleveland lost four of six, and club officials began changing the subject. The city of Cleveland is a "sleeping giant," boasted President Gabe Paul and majority owner Steve O'Neill, whose team has drawn only 731,132 so far this season. Not even Buddy Bell's 1,000th career hit could prevent Cleveland Press writer Bob Sudyk from demanding the scalp of Manager Jeff Torborg. "Torborg is young, talented and intelligent," wrote Sudyk, "but still learning on the job. He remains too nice a guy to nudge awake 'The Sleeping Giant,' but should be groomed...for the front office."
Toronto suffered one of the most immemorable weeks of the franchise's brief and immemorable history. First, the Blue Jays lost six of seven and were one-hit by California's Chris Knapp. Then Willie Horton, the only Jay to hit in that game, missed the team's next outing after a bizarre parking-lot incident. Horton claimed that he was kayoed by a mounted policeman's riding crop, and that one of his sons was stepped on by a police horse. Horton, his wife, two sons and three others were charged with creating a disturbance. And finally, writer Neil Campbell of the Globe and Mail was tossed out of Exhibition Park after admitting that he had taken a folder of the club's documents.
BOS 86-55 NY 85-56 MIL 82-60 BALT 80-62 DET 77-64 CLEV 60-80 TOR 56-88
No team in the division had a winning week, and the best performances were turned in by players on season-long losers. Forkballer Ken Forsch of Houston (3-4) threw only 84 pitches in two-hitting the Dodgers 5-0. "He didn't even work up a sweat," said Los Angeles Manager Tom Lasorda. "He could have lasted another nine innings." No less effective was Jose Cruz, who has batted .348 since the All-Star break. With a .407 week, Cruz increased his average to .313, second best in the National League, and promised, "If I'm still close to the lead in a couple of weeks, you'll see me start bunting for hits."
Atlanta's (3-4) other knuckleball pitcher, Phil Niekro, became the first 18-game winner in the league. Niekro beat San Diego 8-1 and L.A. 7-4. The Braves might have had a winning week, but Manager Bobby Cox removed Pitcher Buddy J. Solomon, who had won his last three starts and had an earned run average of 2.02 in his last five turns, with a 2-0 lead. The Pirates rallied against his replacements, Craig Skok and Gene Garber, and went on to win 6-3.
Resigned to finishing fourth, San Diego (3-3) called up five rookies. The team's best work, however, was done by veterans Gaylord Perry, who had his 16th and 17th wins, and Rollie Fingers, who got his 31st and 32nd saves. Another veteran, Randy Jones, continued pitching well, but lost because of two more errors by his teammates. The Padres have made 43 errors behind Jones, whose record is 11-13.