In lopsided losses to Philadelphia (9-3), New York (9-4) and Montreal (8-1 and 12-2), Atlanta's staff saw its ERA soar to 4.75 by week's end. Even worse, the Braves gave up 13 unearned runs, making for a total of 50 in their 57 games. Lack of hitting hurt San Diego, which was shut out twice. Aside from Dave Winfield, 9 for 24 for the week and batting .356, no other regular Padre was hitting over .300. After a loss to St. Louis and its six .300 hitters, Winfield summed up the difference between the two teams. "They're just ripping and slashing, and we're playing too close to the vest," he said.
Houston (4-2) climbed to an Astro-record 11 games above .500 and increased its divisional lead to 1� games over Cincinnati, thanks in good part to knuckleballer Joe Niekro. He defeated Montreal 5-4 and then shut out New York for his eighth consecutive victory, which ties a team record set 10 years ago by the late Don Wilson. "Right now he's the best pitcher in the National League," said Manager Bill Virdon. Tom Seaver of Cincinnati (4-3), once acclaimed as the league's best, beat Montreal on a three-hitter to end a 7�-week drought in which he had not won a game. The Reds' Mike LaCoss beat the Expos 7-2, his seventh victory without a loss. It was also his 12th start this season, all of which have resulted in Cincinnati victories. Red pitchers got extraordinary support from George Foster and Dan Driessen. Foster banged out five homers and hit .379, while Driessen hit four homers, batted .444, scored eight runs and had six RBIs.
HOU 35-25 CIN 32-25 SF 28-31 LA 28-32 SD 27-34 ATL 21-36
California extended its divisional lead to a team-record three games in a 4-2 week. Surprises were everywhere. Frank Tanana, heretofore unable to last beyond seven innings, pitched a four-hit shutout against Toronto. Nolan Ryan, sidelined since May 30 with a pulled calf muscle, returned against Detroit and fired a four-hitter, striking out 16. In another win over Detroit, seldom-used 39-year-old Willie Davis banged out four hits in four at bats and First Baseman Dan Ford, subbing for Rod Carew, who is out with a thumb injury, drove home the go-ahead run in the fifth inning and then broke the game open with his first major league grand slam. In Ryan's triumph, Willie Mays Aikens broke out of a slump, singling twice and hitting a home run. Aikens says a recent visit with former high school rival Jim Rice helped him crack the slump. "He told me to watch the ball right into the catcher's mitt," Aikens said. Chicago (2-4) had surprises, too, but unfortunately most of them were bad. Ken Kravec, coming off six straight wins, suffered a 9-2 loss to Boston; Pitcher Mike Proly had a recurrence of elbow trouble in a loss to New York; and Ross Baumgarten, the White Sox' brightest rookie pitcher, played with a cold in losing to Milwaukee and wound up in the hospital with a sore throat. On the plus side were the performances of rookie Pitcher Fred Howard, who beat Boston for his first major league victory, and Reliever Steve (Rainbow) Trout, who had two saves, including one in Fenway Park, where his father, Dizzy Trout, won the last of his 170 victories.
Marty Pattin of Kansas City, a slow starter used sparingly this season, got two of the Royals' three wins for the week. After beating Milwaukee 6-1 on five hits, he said, "Who knows whether I can pitch early in the season if they don't use me?"
Johnny Grubb extended his hitting streak to 21 games, the longest this season in the majors, Texas won five of seven games. Minnesota (30-26) dropped 3� games out of first, while Oakland was a perfect 0-6, discouraging even by its modest standards.
Seattle's Willie Horton finally hit his 300th career home run in a 4-3 victory over Detroit. The night before, Horton cracked a shot toward leftfield off Detroit's John Hiller that appeared certain to land in the Kingdome's second deck. But at a point about 95 feet above the field, the ball smacked into a loudspeaker, one of 13 that hang over the Kingdome field. As Horton rounded first base in his home-run trot, the ball rebounded back onto the infield. Tiger Shortstop Alan Trammell fielded it and held Horton to a single. "It's funny," said Hiller, "before the game a bunch of us pitchers were looking up at those speakers and I said, 'Anytime a ball hits one of those and saves a game for a pitcher, he ought to go to church the next day.' I guess you know where I'll be tomorrow."
CAL 35-23 KC 32-26 MINN 30-25 TEX 31-26 CHI 27-29 SEA 23-36 OAK 18-40