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The Little League champions from Taiwan were treated to a game at Shea Stadium between the Mets and Braves, but it was clear from the start that the wrong team was sitting in the stands. The Mets (0-6) committed three errors, and the visitors from the East walked out midway through the Braves' 5-4 victory. They missed seeing an uncultural exchange between Third Baseman Richie Hebner and some Mets fans. The crowd jeered Hebner for waving at two ground balls and striking out in the ninth with the tying run in scoring position, and Hebner made a crude gesture in reply.
PITT 80-54 MONT 73-54 CHI 71-61 ST.L 71-61 PHIL 67-67 NY 52-79
The Astros (4-2) fell out of first place for the first time since May 29 but reclaimed it four days later. "It's great to be back on top," said Manager Bill Virdon after J. R. Richard beat the Mets 3-1 on seven hits. "That's the only spot we've gotten used to." Richard earlier had a two-hitter against the Expos, striking out 12 in a 3-0 victory. Houston also received strong pitching from Ken Forsch, who returned to the starting rotation and teamed with Randy Niemann and Joe Sambito to three-hit New York. The Astros need good pitching—they are last in the league in home runs, with 46, only four more than Dave Kingman or Mike Schmidt. The only two Houston had last week were by Richard and another pitcher, Joaquin Andujar. "Our pitchers would be in shock if we got them some runs," said Third Baseman Enos Cabell.
Cincinnati (4-2) ran over the Phillies and took a brief hold on first place. Then the Reds ran into the Expos, who beat them 8-7 and 7-2. In the second loss, Montreal scored seven runs off Tom Seaver in an inning and a third to stop his career-high winning streak at 11 games. Before that defeat, Seaver was 18-9 lifetime against the Expos and 4-0 at Olympic Stadium. But there were some positive notes, too: Mike LaCoss and Tom Hume combined to two-hit Philadelphia 4-2, and Joe Morgan batted .450.
The heart is gone from San Francisco (1-6), or San Fiasco, as one newspaper called the team. Vida Blue, struggling with a 10-12 record and a 5.18 ERA, brandished a clubhouse chair at reporters, and fellow Pitcher John Montefusco walked out on the club after being fined $500 for drinking on the team plane. Blue later said he was joking, and Montefusco sheepishly returned, but the Giants continued to lose. At the beginning of the season, starters Ed Halicki, Bob Knepper, Montefusco and Blue were supposed to give San Francisco the best pitching staff in baseball, but their combined record is 27-33, and less renowned John Curtis and Ed Whitson have been more reliable. Whitson four-hit the Cardinals 3-2 in a game decided by Willie McCovey's pinch single.
Gaylord Perry broke a personal five-game losing streak as San Diego (2-4) beat the Cubs 3-1. The Padres then dropped to within three games of last place with their 26th loss in the last 38 games. Two base-running blunders in the 10th and 14th innings by Rookie Jim Wilhelm cost San Diego an 8-7, 15-inning loss to the Cardinals.
The Dodgers (4-3) got two victories from rookie Rick Sutcliffe and another from 14-year veteran Don Sutton. Sutcliffe's 13th win set a Los Angeles first-year record, and Sutton's 2,506th strikeout moved him ahead of Christy Mathewson and into 14th place on the alltime list. Sutcliffe also had the dubious distinction of being ejected in the ninth inning of a 6-4 win over the Cubs for hitting Scot Thompson. Steve Garvey slugged four home runs and batted .321.
Atlanta (3-2) finally found somebody to beat up on—the Mets. The Braves swept a three-game series in New York 5-1, 6-4 and 5-4 behind the good pitching of Buddy Jay Solomon, Phil Niekro and Rick Matula. Niekro later lost 6-4 to Philadelphia to bring his bulky record to 17-18.
HOUS 77-58 CIN 77-59 LA 63-72 SF 60-76 SD 57-79 ATL 53-81