Cincinnati (3-4) turned Riverfront Stadium into a war zone. Baseball's latest beanball episode involved Joe Morgan, the target of Houston Pitcher Joaquin Andujar, who in turn got brushed back in his next at bat. Both benches emptied, but no one was hurt in the ensuing fracas. Pitching was the Reds' strong point for a change, their staff yielding just 22 runs in the seven games. Still, the Reds fell twice to San Francisco (3-4). In the first game of a doubleheader, Giant Reliever Pedro Borbon got a save by retiring ex-teammates George Foster and Johnny Bench with the bases loaded.
San Diego went 4-2, the four wins coming against the lowly Dodgers—how's that sound?—and the Mets. Padre superstar Dave Winfield hit a 12th-inning home run to beat New York and played host for 1,200 underprivileged New York children during the four-game Mets series.
More than 51,000 fans, the largest crowd in two years, packed Atlanta Stadium on the Fourth. The Braves (5-2) had just climbed out of the cellar for the first time since April 16. "I heard the crowd screaming," said Outfielder Gary Matthews, "and I said, 'Let's go.' " So Matthews did, hitting his 17th home run. San Francisco Reliever Gary Lavelle balked in the winning run in the 7-6 game. Surprisingly effective hitting and pitching gave the Braves 12 wins in their last 19 games. Rookie Tony Brizzolara won twice, yielding but four runs in 16? innings, and the way Atlanta veteran Phil Niekro (11-10) and brother Joe (13-3) were going, they could become the second set of brothers to win 20 games in the same year—Jim and Gaylord Perry did it in 1970.
The Dodgers (1-5) continued to plummet. After losing twice to San Diego, they dropped to last place for the first time in 11 years. Manager Tommy Lasorda was summoned back to Los Angeles for a 90-minute conference with President Peter O'Malley and Vice-President Al Campanis. He arrived on the field for a game in Montreal just after the playing of the national anthems. No one discussed what had gone on and Lasorda, who, as usual, is on a one-year contract, remained the manager. For now.
HOUS 53-34 CIN 44-40 SF 41-43 SD 39-48 ATL 36-48 LA 34-51
After winning 22 of 25 games, the Orioles (1-5) lost five straight and were shut out twice. In five games against the Rangers and Angels, they scored nine runs to their opponents' 32 and left 33 men on base. Even their pitching—the best in the American League—fizzled. After winning 10 straight, Dennis Martinez lost his fourth in a row. Jim Palmer, citing a sore elbow, once again removed himself from the rotation, and Reliever Tim Stoddard was ailing with a muscle tear. The team ERA rose from 3.32 to 3.54.
"I ain't worried," said Manager Earl Weaver. "We're still in first." But the Birds' lead, which was 5� games at the beginning of the week, slipped to just two games over second-place Boston (4-3).
The Yankees (6-2) took the final two games of their series with the Red Sox and set a league attendance record (206,016) for a four-game series. They were playing once again like the Yankees of yore, or at least of 1978, cutting their deficit to Baltimore from 12 to eight games. They were running and stealing bases again, Billy Martin-style. Reggie Jackson, recovered from his leg injury, was ripping balls over fences. Tommy John returned to form, winning two complete games and allowing just one earned run in 18 innings to become the league's first 13-game winner. And the presence of rookie Ron Davis made the absence of Rich Gossage less catastrophic. Since replacing the injured Goose on May 28, the young reliever has won eight games without a defeat and saved four. Teammates nicknamed him "The Vulture" when he turned a couple of sure saves into wins for himself by blowing a lead.
Before a matchup with Cy Young Award winner Ron Guidry, Lary Sorensen of the Brewers (3-4) felt a no-hitter in the air. "With Guidry you always feel he can pitch a no-hitter," explained the young righthander. And for 7? innings it was a no-hitter—Sorensen's, not Guidry's. "I was thanking my infielders for their good plays, but no one was talking to me," said Sorensen, who is in his second full major league year. "They'd just walk away. I got so lonely I started talking to a Gatorade bucket." When Chris Chambliss got a hit in the eighth, Third Baseman Sal Bando came to the mound and broke the silence, "We have to win this game." Which they did, 3-0, Sorensen pitching a two-hitter. But the ground the Brewers gained during the Oriole slide was erased when they lost three straight to Sparky Anderson's clean-shaven Tiger youngsters. Detroit (5-3) was rescued three times—by the rubber-armed Mexican Aurelio Lopez, called Se�or Smoke, to reach .500.