Something old—a pair of dependable pitchers—and something new—a flock of youngsters—boosted the Dodgers (5-1) into first place. Don Sutton, 35, doubled his victory total as he beat Chicago 2-1 and Pittsburgh 3-1 with plenty of help from some whipper-snappers. Aiding Sutton against the Cubs were Rudy Law, 23, who stole four bases, and Bobby Castillo, 25, who pitched the final three innings and struck out six batters. Steve Howe, 22, wrapped up Sutton's three-hitter against the Pirates by working a perfect ninth inning. Jerry Reuss, 30, twice picked up for Dave Goltz. Five days after Reuss came out of the bullpen to save Goltz' 4-2 triumph over St. Louis, he started when Goltz got the flu and beat Pittsburgh 8-6.
Something borrowed—a tip from Batting Coach Ted Kluszewski to stop lunging at pitches—helped Ray Knight of Cincinnati (1-4) equal a record. Knight became the 20th player in major league history to hit two home runs in one inning, one a grand slam, as the Reds walloped the Mets 15-4. Dave Collins added to the assault with four hits—a day after getting married. Other notable accomplishments were wasted, however. Tom Seaver allowed Montreal only three hits but lost 2-1, and Harry Spilman came through with a pair of pinch homers that drove in four runs in two other defeats.
Something Blue—Vida—helped the Giants (4-2) to their most successful week of the season. After spending much of Tuesday at a court hearing on the theft of his $30,000 BMW, Blue pitched his first shutout since 1978 that night against Pittsburgh, yielding four hits and striking out nine. Four days later, Blue beat the Cardinals 4-2 as Darrell Evans hit a grand slam.
Some players insist there is more rabbit in the ball this season, but judging from the ineptitude of National League hitters last week, the ball may instead have a little turtle in it. In a 31-game week, which featured six shutouts and just 23 homers, Houston (0-5) had the feeblest offense of all. The Astros hit .196, with only four doubles and one triple and went 24 innings without a run.
San Diego (4-4) had the stingiest pitching, allowing seven runs. When Randy Jones wasn't hurling shutouts and extending his string of innings without a walk to 39?, John Curtis and Rollie Fingers were dispatching hitters with ease. Fingers twice pitched a pair of scoreless innings against St. Louis, earning a 3-2 victory when Gene Richards drove in the decisive run in the ninth and then saving a 2-1 triumph for Curtis. Also displaying a fine arm was Catcher Bill Fahey, who got a save of another kind in the 2-1 win by cutting down three would-be base stealers.
Gary Matthews and Bob Horner came out of the Atlanta (2-2) doghouse and showed some bite. Three hits by Matthews helped Phil Niekro defeat brother Joe of the Astros 7-4. During a two-game split with the Phillies, Horner ended an 0-for-21 slump with a single and then hit his first homer of the season.
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The Expos (4-0) hit only .216, but opposing batters fared even worse against 40-year-old lefthander Woodie Fryman. Fryman retired all 19 batters he faced, 17 on consecutive nights in Houston to preserve 3-2 and 1-0 victories. After a day off, Fryman got the final two outs—and his sixth save—as the Expos beat the Reds 2-1.