It was just one of many gifts offered up by the charitable Mets last week. In the first game of a doubleheader with the Expos, Outfielder Gil Flores held on to the ball after a fine running catch, allowing two runs to score, and in the second game, Second Baseman Kelvin Chapman handed the Expos a sweep when he held the ball while the winning run crossed the plate. New York, which has been defeated in 31 of its last 36 games, lost four straight doubleheaders, but even that was for naught: it was one short of the 1928 record. The Mets' front office had a gift for the fans—it will install 55,000 new plastic molded seats. The fans, in turn, presented the Mets with a record—the lowest attendance—761,872 with one day remaining—in the history of the franchise.
The Mets had some goodies for old teammate Dave Kingman of Chicago (4-4). He got the game-winning RBI in each end of a twin bill against New York. It's unlikely that Kong will break Hack Wilson's league home-run record of 56, but with 47 he is within reach of becoming the sixth National Leaguer to hit 50 in a season.
MONT 92-60 PITT 92-61 ST.L 82-71 PHIL 80-75 CHI 78-76 NY 56-97
With two weeks to Play, it became official. Last year's National League champion Dodgers were mathematically eliminated from the race. But it was done in style. Tom Seaver of the first-place Reds (3-4) shut them out 2-0 on three hits. Although the Dodgers (4-3) lead the league in home runs (176), and a club-record five players—Davey Lopes (28), Ron Cey (27), Steve Garvey (27), Dusty Baker (23) and Joe Ferguson (20)—have 20 or more, L.A. is still five games under .500. Rick Sutcliffe, one of the few rays of sunshine in smog-bound Los Angeles, added to his credentials for Rookie of the Year with his fifth straight win. The victory brought his record to 16-9; 12 of the wins have come at Dodger Stadium. There was one reminder of last year's triumphs. Bob Welch, who has been bothered by a sore arm most of the season, took the mound for only his second start since the All-Star Game and got his first win since May 15.
The Giants (3-3) played giant killer. After starting the week with their second straight win over the Astros (4-3), they turned around and beat the Reds twice. The victories gave San Francisco 12 wins over Cincinnati in 18 meetings this year; they also put the Giants in position to challenge the Dodgers for third place. Two defeats in L.A. and one in Atlanta promptly knocked them back into a battle with San Diego (3-3) for fourth.
Padre President Ballard Smith turned down Gaylord Perry's offer to return to the club, which he had jumped three weeks before. "We just can't have guys walking out on us," said Smith. And it's a good thing he feels that way, because had Perry returned, he might have cost Juan Tyrone Eichelberger a start and fans an opportunity to guess how many and exactly which countries produced that wonderful name. J.T. got his first major league win, striking out seven Dodgers and allowing just four hits in a 3-1 victory. After that game, in which he hit his 32nd homer and collected his 113th RBI—a Padre club record—Dave Winfield declared himself the National League's MVP.
The Braves' MVP—Most Valuable Pitcher—is Phil Niekro. "I still say he's one of the top five pitchers in all of baseball," said Manager Bobby Cox of Atlanta (2-3). Although Niekro has led the league in losses the last two years and, with 20, is a safe bet to do so again, he has also won 19—or nearly one-third of the Braves' victories for the season. His latest triumph was a two-hitter in which he gave up only one earned run as he beat the Giants 10-2. "It was a nice night to pitch," said Niekro. "The wind was light and I didn't tire myself out."
CIN 87-68 HOU 86-68 LA 75-80 SF 68-87 SD 65-90 ATL 61-91