St. Louis and Chicago (both 1-5) stumbled. The Cardinals' John Fulgham, who hadn't pitched in 52 days because of arm trouble, changed to a more overhand motion and blanked the Giants 4-0. It took Jerry Martin's 17th homer and Bruce Sutter's 22nd save for the Cubs to beat San Francisco 5-3.
Pat Zachry's second shutout in a row, a 2-0 four-hitter against the Braves, kept the Mets (4-2) in the chase. So did 5-4 and 5-3 victories over the Astros, who blew 4-0 and 3-1 leads. Steve Henderson's three-run pinch homer, New York's first four-bagger in 10 games, knotted the first game at 4-4, and Frank Taveras, who hit .444, drove in the tiebreaker in the eighth.
MONT 56-44 PITT 56-45 PHIL 53-47 NY 50-51 ST.L 45-57 CHI 40-58
Baltimore fans talked the return of "Orioles Magic," and the players warned the front-running Yanks they would make a race of it yet. As the Orioles (5-1) intensified the chase, John Lowenstein had two gamers: a bad-hop double in the 12th downed the Brewers 5-4 and a single in the eighth beat the Twins 3-2. Only Steve Stone lost, ending his victory streak at 14 games.
The Brewers (1-5) also felt they were poised to make a run at New York (4-3), but lost three times to the Yankees before home crowds totaling 143,908. Reggie Jackson's two-out, three-run homer in the ninth tied the opener at 6-6 and an error in the 10th made New York a 7-6 winner. A seven-run Yankee first inning the next night helped defeat the Brewers 9-4, and four Milwaukee errors scuttled the home team 5-3 in the third game. New York's Rick Cerone, who had 10 RBIs, hit a three-run homer in the eighth in Minnesota and a bases-empty drive in the 10th for a 7-6 victory. Graig Nettles, though, was lost for four to six weeks with hepatitis.
Detroit (5-4) followed a four-game losing streak with four straight wins. Milt Wilcox won twice and Al Cowens, a .394 batter for the week, made Jack Morris a 1-0 victor over Seattle with a ninth-inning single.
Cleveland (3-1) had its eight-game victory string ended, but climbed into fifth. Ross Grimsley, with a couple of pitches clocked at 44 mph, baffled the Mariners 5-2.
Manager Don Zimmer's 2-year-old racehorse, Zimmer, won at a country fair, but his Red Sox (2-4) plodded along like Percherons despite the hitting of Dwight Evans (.429) and Dave Stapleton (.423). Bob Stanley twice hurled three runless innings of relief, saving a 1-0 victory over Texas for rookie Bob Ojeda with the second stint.
For the second time this season, the Blue Jays (2-4) fought back from a 6-0 deficit to jolt the Angels, this time winning 9-8. Prospects also seemed dim for Jesse Jefferson when he barely had time to warm up for the Mariners because he had attended a Sunday clubhouse chapel service. Nonetheless, Jefferson did a hallelujah job and won 5-0 with a two-hitter.