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And so the National League beat the American League yet again, 4-2 in Los Angeles, its ninth win in a row and 17th of the last 18. The NL fell behind 2-0 in the fifth inning on Fred Lynn's two-run homer, but in the last of the fifth, Ken Griffey, who was named the game's Most Valuable Player, homered to break up a budding AL no-hitter. The Nationals took a 3-2 lead in the sixth on consecutive singles by Ray Knight, Phil Garner and George Hendrick and a Dave Winfield grounder to second that was misplayed by Willie Randolph. They added a fourth run in the seventh when Dave Concepcion scored from third base on a wild pitch.
Jerry Reuss, who struck out the side in his one inning of work got the win, and Bruce Sutter, the winning pitcher in 1978 and 1979, pitched hitless ball in the eighth and ninth to earn a save. In his three All-Star appearances, Sutter has fanned six batters in 5⅔ innings while yielding two hits and no runs.
Still, perhaps the best performance of all was that of the American League's starting pitcher, Steve Stone. On just 24 pitches in three innings, Stone struck out three Nationals and pitched perfect ball, the first starting pitcher to hold the Nationals hitless that long since Denny McLain in 1966.
Two aspects of the event were notable. First, the NL showed far superior depth. Both teams had seven hits, but while all the AL's were by starters, all the National's were by its reserves. Second, the game was seen by an estimated record 60 million TV viewers, surpassing the 55.8 million who watched the game in 1978.
"I feel like the guys are watching me and saying, 'Reggie's swinging good, man. C'mon let's watch Reggie,' " says—yup—Reggie Jackson of New York (2-2). In 26 games since June 10, Jackson has hit 11 homers, batted in 34 runs and raised his average to .298. Ominous, too, for the rest of the division was the return to the lineup of Ruppert Jones and Oscar Gamble, making the injury-prone Yankees completely intact in the field for the first time since May 10. It showed most in romps over Texas, 13-5, and Chicago, 8-0.
Cleveland (3-1) toppled New York 5-3 when Gary Alexander, a .196 hitter, pinch-hit a three-run homer. It was his second consecutive pinch home run, tying a league record. Alexander then crashed a pair of doubles to drive in three runs and beat Texas 9-8. Eddie Murray of Baltimore (2-2) broke out of an 0-for-21 slump in Chicago by blasting two home runs and a single, a double and a triple for six RBIs in two games. Then All-Star Game standout Steve Stone won his 11th straight, 3-1 over Kansas City.
Detroit (1-3) reached second place before the All-Star Game and then departed for 13 games on the road, which local papers were calling "The Big Trip." Manager Sparky Anderson was optimistic. "I'd like to go 8-5 on the trip," he said. "Then we play 47 out of 73 at home and it's up to us." Alas, when the season resumed, Detroit lost twice at Kansas City and once at Boston. "I thought the break would do us good," Anderson said. "But the opposite has happened."
Things were even worse for Tiger Outfielder Al Cowens, who is still wanted in Chicago on a battery charge for attacking White Sox Pitcher Ed Farmer on June 20. In a letter to Bowie Kuhn, Cook County State Attorney Bernard Carey wrote: "I strongly urge you...to arrange for Cowens to voluntarily surrender to the Circuit Court of Chicago."