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Before losing three of four games to the Dodgers, the second-place Reds (3-4) extended their winning streak to eight games. Despite hitting a three-run homer in the ninth to help finish off Chicago 10-7, Reliever Doug Bair was credited with neither the win (Joe Price earned that with five innings of shutout work) nor the save (Tom Hume got that when he put down a Cub uprising in the bottom of the ninth inning).
Three saves and a win were chalked up by Greg Minton of the Giants (4-2), who hasn't given up a home run in 208 innings. Jack Clark's two home runs did in New York 3-1, and Darrell Evans' two-run single in the 15th downed Houston 6-3. The wide-awake Giants climbed above .500, but might have fared even better had Vida Blue not slept on his left side one night, a mistake that caused him to miss a pitching turn because of a sore elbow. Then, after a safe and sound night's sleep. Blue defeated Houston 2-1.
Rufino Linares and Rafael Ramirez, both born in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, enabled the Braves (1-4) to overcome a 6-0 deficit and beat the Padres 7-6. Linares walloped a three-run homer in the fifth and singled in the 11th to drive in Ramirez, who had doubled.
Another Dominican, Rafael Landestoy, gave the Astros (2-4) a 4-3 victory over the Cardinals when he tripled in the 11th. Art Howe took over the league lead in batting with a .374 average; he had a .478 week and stretched his hitting streak to 23 games.
San Diego (3-3) got a lift from its Mutt and Jeff lefthanded relief combination—6'5", 200-pound Gary Lucas and 5'8", 132-pound rookie Danny Boone. Lucas got his sixth and seventh saves, and Boone lowered his ERA to 2.05. "My size makes it hard for big league hitters to take me seriously," said Boone, who had 20 strikeouts in 21⅔ innings. A two-run pinch single in the eighth by Randy Bass toppled the Braves 7-5 on Sunday. Padre base stealers, who led the majors last season with 239 thefts, were caught 29 times in their first 59 tries this year. That made Manager Frank Howard take away the green light from two of his swifties—Gene Richards and Ozzie Smith.
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Mike Norris of the A's held a 4-2 lead in the sixth when he ruffled the Orioles' feathers by hitting John Lowenstein in the back of the head with a pitch. The aroused Birds (5-3) won 6-5. "To win, the A's have to use aggressiveness, but it also served to fire us up," said winning Pitcher Mike Flanagan. "Hitting Low was an example. Whether it was deliberate or not, it cost them the game." Baltimore swept into first behind the solid hitting of Gary Roenicke (.500) and Ken Singleton (seven RBIs), plus strong pitching by Tippy Martinez (three saves) and Scott McGregor, who stopped Oakland 5-1 on three hits and beat Detroit 4-2. Roenicke's splurge raised his average to .376, tops in the majors. But Steve Stone went on the 21-day disabled list with tendinitis in his right elbow.
"It's hard to believe, but I was up here for 7½ years and really knew nothing about hitting," said Dwight Evans of the Red Sox (6-2). Evans, who had a .258 average for his first seven seasons, was enlightened about hitting last season by Coach Walt Hriniak. Now it's hard to believe the turnaround. During the final 80 games in 1980, Evans abandoned his habit of changing his stance more often than his socks and batted .317. And after slugging his ninth and 10th home runs and hitting .464 last week, Evans was at .356 for the season. Teammate Jerry Remy was higher, boosting his average to .364. For a change, Boston also got some fine pitching. Frank Tanana struck out nine Mariners while winning 4-0. Dennis Eckersley fanned 12, gave up only two hits and defeated Oakland 3-0 when Jim Rice homered with two aboard in the ninth. The bullpen continued to be effective, two relievers being credited with victories that were saved by fellow relievers. Before dropping a Sunday doubleheader in Milwaukee, Boston had climbed to fourth place by winning 14 of 17 games, with relief pitchers accounting for seven wins and six saves during that surge.
New York's relievers were also invaluable, getting three saves and two wins. Doug Bird tossed five innings of runless relief to stop the Royals 6-5. And Ron Davis saved two games for the Yankees (4-2) as he struck out eight men in four scoreless innings, giving him a remarkable 46 Ks in 28 innings. Davis, who averaged 4.5 strikeouts per nine innings in three previous seasons, attributed his newfound success to a rising fastball he developed to replace a sinker that wouldn't sink.