No team was more exciting than the Pirates (3-2). On Tuesday they blew a 10-2 lead over the Cubs only to win 12-11 in 11 innings on Dave Parker's second homer of the game. Parker and Bill Robinson had four hits apiece. Two days later, again facing the Cubs, again in extra innings, the Pirates won 3-2 as pinch runner Matt Alexander stole second, went to third when Catcher Dave Rader's throw sailed into center and scored when Center-fielder Bobby Murcer's peg clipped him on the shoulder and rolled to the Cub dugout. In another game Manager Chuck Tanner had lefthander Jim Rooker walk lefty Bill Buckner to bring up righthanded Dave Kingman with the bases loaded and the wind in Wrigley Field blowing out. The gamble paid off when Kingman hit into a fielder's choice. In another unconventional maneuver by Tanner, rookie Dorian (the Doe) Boyland, in his first major league at bat, was removed with two strikes on him and then charged with a strikeout when pinch hitter Rennie Stennett took a called strike three. In another at bat Boy-land singled, but when Frank Taveras hit him to third, Boyland neglected to touch second and was out. The wild Pirate week ended on a sour note when Expo baserunner Larry Parrish collided with Pittsburgh Catcher Duffy Dyer, cartwheeling over him and touching the plate with his hand. "He hasn't touched home yet," groused Tanner.
Playing more quietly but more effectively, Philadelphia (3-2) took a doubleheader from the Mets 1-0 and 6-3 while the Pirates were losing to Montreal. The 1½-game shift left the Phillies three games ahead going into the last week of the season. The heroes of the sweep were Shortstop Larry Bowa, who had seven hits, and Pitcher Larry Christiansen, who shut out New York on three hits. Mike Schmidt was almost the goat of the first game. After stealing second and getting the safe sign from Umpire Satch Davidson, Schmidt walked off the field and was tagged by Pitcher Mike Bruhert as he neared the dugout. Thus Bob Boone's subsequent single, which might have scored Schmidt, was wasted. "I thought I was out," Schmidt said.
In Montreal (2-2) Outfielder Ellis Valentine was playing the goat role to the hilt. He held up short of first base as a fly he had hit—and mistakenly thought would be caught—reached the wall. He barely made it to second. Before the next pitch he was picked off. Booed for both plays, Valentine looked at the stands and stretched out his hands at shoulder level. "I wanted them to boo me some more," he said. "I deserved what I got and more." Valentine was suspended for two days and fined—reportedly for the 11th time this season. He apologized, then said of his behavior, "I don't regret it."
Another also-ran gunning for the favorites was Chicago. The Cubs were just 3-3 but got in one gratifying blow—Mike Krukow's 5-1, four-hit win over Pittsburgh. "We're going to knock Pittsburgh's tail right out of the race," crowed Cub Manager Herman Franks. The Cubs also tied some obscure records. In the 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh, they equaled a National League mark by using 27 men. And Ivan DeJesus stole his 37th base, most by a Cub since Kiki Cuyler swiped that many in 1930.
New York (2-4) and St. Louis (3-3) were battling to stay out of the cellar. First Ted Simmons and Ken Reitz drove in two runs apiece to give the Cardinals a 5-3 win over the Mets. Then Lee Mazzilli and Willie Montanez matched them as New York won 7-6. St. Louis took the rubber game 6-2 as John Urea, back from the minors, outdueled Craig Swan. At week's end, the Cardinals put five games between themselves and the Mets by clipping Chicago 5-1 while New York dropped two to the Phillies. Reitz, one of the league's slowest runners, touched off a five-run rally by beating out an infield hit.
PHIL 85-68 PITT 82-71 CHI 76-78 MONT 72-82 ST.L 67-89 NY 63-92
The Dodgers (2-4) had a poor week, but it hardly mattered after Lee Lacy's pinch homer helped L.A. beat San Diego 5-3 and lower its magic number to one. That left Cincinnati (4-2) and San Francisco (3-3) resigned to battling for second, which would mean $500 more per man than finishing third. The Giants continued to play clutch ball; by beating the Astros 3-2, they won their 40th one-run game of the season, only one short of the 1969 Mets' major league record. The Giants also got some more clutch pitching from the most reliable member of their staff. No, not Vida Blue, but Bob Knepper (16-11), who beat the Astros 2-0. Knepper leads San Francisco in earned run average (2.73) and complete games (15), and his five shutouts top the league.
The Reds seemed as preoccupied with individual records as with their place in the standings. Tom Seaver raised his strikeout total to 200 for a major league-record 10th time. Johnny Bench caught his 100th game for the 11th straight season to set a National League record. And Pete Rose, whose 3,153rd career hit sent him past Paul Waner and into eighth place on the alltime list, needed 13 hits in his last seven games to break the 200-hit barrier for the 10th time. None of which satisfied Manager Sparky Anderson. Finally conceding the divisional race, he said, "Now that the Dodgers have won it two years in a row, we have to go back and look at ourselves. The Dodgers have shown they are the class team."