"We've had one of the worst spells a team can have. But we're together and loose, and that's why we'll be there when it comes down to the end." So said Jack Clark after San Francisco (4-2) beat Pittsburgh to end a skid in which the Giants lost 11 of 14 games. Clark led all San Francisco batters with 10 hits and eight RBIs, and Willie McCovey slammed four home runs, giving him a career total of 516, five fewer than Ted Williams, who is eighth on the alltime list. John Montefusco, sidelined 54 days with a nerve irritation in his pitching arm, returned and yielded just six hits and one run in five innings against Chicago, and Bob Knepper threw a nine-hitter to beat the Cubs 7-2.
"That's as good as I can pitch," said Tom Seaver of Cincinnati (3-3) after he defeated Philadelphia 6-3 on a six-hitter. Seaver struck out six Phillies as he became only the seventh major leaguer to record 2,800 strikeouts. Mike LaCoss won his eighth game without defeat by a 4-1 score over New York, lowering his ERA to 2.33, best among league starters. LaCoss left the game after the fifth inning because of a sore elbow. Injuries also plagued Ken Griffey, Ray Knight and Paul Blair.
San Diego (3-3) beat Pittsburgh 6-3 for Gaylord Perry. It was Perry's third straight victory and 273rd overall, tying him with Red Ruffing for 17th on the alltime list. But Perry was more concerned about his team's low standing. "We need improvement," he said. "We have only an outside shot unless we make a trade." Two days later the Padres traded Mike Hargrove, a career .288 hitter but a .192 bust in 1979, to Cleveland for Paul Dade, who had been batting .282 for the Indians.
Joe Niekro got his ninth straight victory and his 10th of the season—tops in the league—as Houston (3-3) beat Philadelphia 4-3 and clung to the division lead. Outfielder Terry Puhl and First Baseman Cesar Cedeno batted .385 and .380 respectively, and Shortstop Craig Reynolds had nine hits in 24 at bats. Another shortstop, Pepe Frias of Atlanta (1-5), went 11 for 21 at the plate to brighten an otherwise dismal week. In all, the Braves committed 13 errors, including two on one play, to raise their league-leading total to 86. And Manager Bobby Cox was so upset by an 11th-inning loss in which Montreal's winning run was walked in that he threw things around in his office and came away with a cut on his head. "I don't know what happened," Cox said. "Something bounced off something, I guess."
Los Angeles (2-4) hit a healthy .287 but Dodger opponents hit an even healthier .309 and outscored the defending league champions 42-33. Don Sutton lost twice, and excluding Terry Forster, the relief corps was shellacked for 14 runs in 13? innings. "It's evident we need help in the bullpen," said Davey Lopes on the eve of the June 15 trading deadline. It came and went without a deal for a reliever.
HOUS 38-28 CIN 35-28 SF 32-33 LA 30-36 SD 30-37 ATL 22-41
Montreal (4-2) regained first place, thanks mainly to a three-game sweep of Atlanta. Steve Rogers won one of the games against the Braves with a six-hitter, Tony Perez went 8 for 13 for the series, and the Expos twice came from behind to win. Still, Manager Dick Williams was unhappy because Montreal's fizzling offense produced not a single home run during a five-game stretch. So he dropped Andr� Dawson, who had struck out 43 times in 52 games, from leadoff to No. 3 in the batting order and shifted Warren Cromartie, who had only 22 RBIs in 54 games, from No. 3 to lead-off. No help. Cromartie got just one hit and scored only one run in four games, and Dawson went 1 for 4 in the clutch. So feeble were Expo bats that after Gary Carter hit four singles—none of them a hot smash—against Houston, his teammates facetiously stacked bats in his locker. Some Expos weren't thinking too well, either. Rodney Scott walked with the bases loaded to force in the game-winning run in the ninth inning against Atlanta, but after taking ball four, he trotted toward the dugout. Williams screamed, motioning to Scott that he had to touch first base, which he finally did. Had he stepped into the dugout or touched a teammate before reaching first, he would've been called out. "I don't know what I was thinking," Scott said. "I just figured the game was over."
Silvio Martinez of St. Louis (2-4) allowed only six hits in eight innings and beat San Diego 3-2, but in five other games the Cardinal starters were shelled. In those outings, Martinez, Bob Sykes, John Denny, Bob Forsch and Pete Vuckovich lasted 23 innings and were racked for 39 hits and 28 earned runs. Their collective ERA was 10.95. They seemed to be doing their damndest to make a prophet of former Cardinal Reggie Smith, now a Dodger, who earlier in the week had said, "If St. Louis doesn't win its division, it'll be because of the pitching." Smith wasn't the only ex-Card who found a St. Louis weakness. San Francisco's John Curtis, another former Cardinal, pitched his first complete game in two years and beat St. Louis 6-1. Ted Simmons, who batted .311 and belted three home runs, said, "The Man gave me good tools and you don't mess with The Man." He wasn't referring to Musial.