San Diego's problems are not limited to those of fined owner Ray Kroc (page 13). As the Padres lost four of six, Gaylord Perry dropped his fifth straight decision, slugger Dave Win-field extended a batting slump to 6 for 55, and Rollie Fingers failed to preserve a ninth-inning lead in a game the Padres lost to Pittsburgh 10 innings later. Indeed, the team's best player was little-noted Outfielder Jim Wilhelm, who batted .450.
The Dodgers' best player was Third Baseman Ron Cey, who had a three-run homer in a 4-2 win over Chicago. No less a fielder than he is a hitter, Cey has only six errors in 115 games. "I'm making all the plays—barehanded pickups, hard grounders, bad hops, quick throws," he said, pleading his case for his first Gold Glove. "Oftentimes the award is based on a player's reputation rather than performance."
In the same game Don Sutton struck out six men and became only the 15th pitcher to reach 2,500 strikeouts, but the feat was soured by the familiar charge that he was throwing "doctored" baseballs. Home plate umpire Terry Tate examined Sutton's glove in the sixth inning and then asked him to "towel" down. "I had pine tar on my hands," said Sutton. "I got it batting. All us good hitters use pine tar."
Cincinnati (page 26) won five of six as Dave Collins batted .565, and Tom Seaver moved into fifth place on the career strikeout list with No. 2,856. The Reds advanced so close to Houston (3-3) that the Astros needed a Saturday night victory over Philadelphia to maintain the division lead. Pitcher Joe Niekro was up to the task, getting the winning hit and his 18th victory as Houston beat the Phillies 3-1.
The Giants (2-4) were again mired in turmoil. When Shortstop Roger Metzger criticized Pitcher Ed Whitson's poor bunting, Whitson responded by slugging Metzger over the eye. The San Francisco Chronicle
added to the tumult by asking citizens in a telephone poll, "Should [Manager] Joe Altobelli Be Fired?" Fifty-six percent of the respondees said yes.
When Phil Niekro beat the Phillies 5-2 for his 16th win, Atlanta (3-2) Manager Bobby Cox was asked, "Can you remember the last time you guys won when Niekro wasn't the pitcher?"
"No, I can't," said Cox. "When was it?"
Answer: Two weeks before.
HOUS 73-56 CIN 73-57 LA 59-69 SF 59-70 SD 55-75 ATL 50-78