Luckily, however, major league RBI leader Don Baylor is fit as a fiddle. Last week Baylor received a letter and two checks made out to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation from Richard M. Nixon. "I'm donating $5 for each of your first 50 RBIs and $50 for each of your first 10 home runs," Nixon wrote. By week's end Baylor had knocked in 11 more runs, giving him 54, smacked five more homers, for a total of 11, and hit .370 to propel the Angels into first place, a game ahead of Texas and Minnesota.
The Twins (3-3) got a boost when the much-ballyhooed but disappointing pitching staff tossed four complete games, although two were losses by Jerry Koosman, to Boston and Kansas City. The wins went to Paul Hartzell and Dave Goltz over Oakland and Boston, respectively. The Twins now have an 18-3 record against sub-.500 foes, but are 10-17 against everybody else.
Texas (4-2) and Kansas City (4-2) hung tough. George Brett broke a Royals record for total bases when he hit for the cycle and then clouted a 16th-inning home run for 14 total bases in a 5-4 win over Baltimore. Rookie Todd Cruz hit his first major league home run to beat Minnesota, and Al Cowens, out since May 8 with a broken jaw, had the wires removed, ate some barbecued spareribs and doubled on the second ball pitched to him after he rejoined the lineup. To make room for him, Clint Hurdle was sent to Omaha. Ranger Reliever Jim Kern gave up one run in 7? innings to get his seventh victory without a defeat and his seventh and eighth saves. Buddy Bell, off to a .177 start, went 11 for 27, raising his average to .281.
Chicago (3-4) got back-to-back three-hit complete-game victories from Ken Kravec, his fifth and sixth straight wins, and Bruce Bochte of Seattle (2-4) had 10 hits to join the league leaders in batting (.356) and RBIs (40). His three-run blast into the upper deck of the Kingdome, a Mariner first, helped down California 12-10. "That's it," he said. "I can do no more with a baseball bat."
Oakland (3-3), giving Detroit its only defeat, employed a useful if far less spectacular attack. A grounder by Jim Essian and Mario Guerrero's single scored a pair of runs in the ninth for a 3-2 win.
CAL 31-21 MINN 28-20 TEX 29-21 KC 29-22 CHI 25-25 SEA 19-34 OAK 18-34
Houston, off to its best start ever (31-23), regained the divisional lead on sharp pitching and Denny Walling's late-inning pinch hitting in a 6-1 week. When Joaquin Andujar pitched a seven-hit, six-strikeout 2-1 gem against Montreal, it was the Astros' fifth complete-game victory in seven outings. Walling singled with the bases loaded in the ninth to beat Cincinnati and then tripled home the deciding run in the eighth in the 2-1 victory over the Expos. Afterward, Manager Bill Virdon announced that Andujar would remain in the starting rotation. "He's excitable," Virdon said, "and needs some innings to get his feet on the ground." Excitable is hardly the word. Andujar celebrated by showering with his uniform on.
That rumbling you hear near the bottom of the standing is—hello?—San Diego (6-2). Gaylord Perry (5-4) won twice and allowed just one earned run in 18 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.32. Hurt most by the Padre surge was Atlanta (3-5), which dropped four straight by a combined 22-8 score in an otherwise so-so Braves week. They beat the Giants twice and split with the Mets. Los Angeles (4-3) swept a three-game series from the Giants to regain the edge (203-201) in that ancient series. In the third game Steve Garvey led a 17-hit Dodger attack by singling, doubling and homering but was upstaged by a woman in a bright red halter who paraded among the box seats. As Garvey's homer was clearing the fence, there was a commotion in the seats. Garvey looked up and spotted the woman. "Never," he said, "has a home run been so anonymous."
San Francisco (1-6) avoided a winless week when Terry Whitfield pinch-hit a two-run single in the eighth to help defeat Chicago 8-6. Life turned out to be less than rosy for Pete Rose when he returned to Cincinnati (3-4) as a Phillie. The 48,968 in attendance gave Rose a 45-second ovation when he received a trophy as last year's most valuable Red. But each time he batted, there were more and more boos, while cheers broke out each time Ray Knight, Rose's replacement at third base, stepped to the plate. Knight singled home one run and scored another, Rose went 0 for 4 and Cincinnati prevailed 4-2. Pitcher Mike LaCoss won his sixth game and kept alive a personal string: in his 11 starts, the Reds have yet to lose.