- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"I think I've stayed in Pittsburgh three years too long," said Dave Parker of the Pirates (4-3). The 1978 MVP was hitting .251 and has been booed lustily by hometown fans. Parker, though, was cheered when his three-run homer helped defeat the Padres 4-2. Two other Bucs were more consistent: Omar Moreno hit .480, and Bill Madlock's .462 week pushed him into the league lead at .337.
Unlike Marshall and Parker, two Cubs with distinguished pasts did well. Three hits by Bobby Bonds helped Chicago (3-3) topple Los Angeles 4-3. And Doug Bird, who said he "stayed drunk for a week" after being traded by the Yankees in June, hurled his first complete game in five years while defeating the Dodgers 3-1.
"This team thrives on emotion," said Larry Bowa of the Phillies (3-2). Manager Dallas Green stirred up those emotions with a 30-minute locker room talk after the club's midweek fall into the cellar. Next time out, the Phils gunned down two runners at the plate, played aggressively and beat the Astros 5-4 with the aid of Bowa's two-out, two-run single in the seventh. Four home runs, two by Keith Moreland, overpowered Houston 8-4. Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw wrapped up the series sweep with a three-hit 6-0 victory, in which Mike Schmidt unloaded a grand slam. Those three losses gave Houston a 40-101 record in Philly since entering the league in 1962.
ST.L 7-4 NY 8-5 MONT 6-6 CHI 6-7 PITT 6-8 PHIL 5-7
Larry Gura, the guru of assorted breaking pitches, baffled the Yankees again as the Royals (2-4) won 4-0. Since being traded by New York to K.C. in 1976 for Catcher Fran Healy, who two years later retired to become a Yankee radio broadcaster, Gura has gone 8-1 against the Yankees, beating them the last seven times and holding a 2.38 ERA against them. And he's done all that despite throwing a fastball that, at best, is a slowball. "It's like this guy we hired to cut down 55 walnut trees on our farm," Gura says. "He told us his equipment doesn't look like much but it gets the job done." George Brett didn't get much done, his average for the Second Season dropping to .163. After Dan Quisenberry picked up his 11th save by getting the final four outs in a 5-3 victory over Toronto, he said, "The thing I got most excited about today was forming the world's only Q-initialed battery with Jamie Quirk."
Britt Burns of the White Sox (4-2) spent most of his time in Birmingham at the bedside of his father, who was critically injured in an auto accident. When it was his turn to pitch, Burns flew to New York and Toronto, and homers by Greg Luzinski helped him win both games. Luzinski homered again Sunday as the Sox had 21 hits, whipped Toronto 13-2 and moved into first place.
Tony Armas, first in the league in RBIs with 53 and tied for first in home runs with 17, downtowned four balls to briefly put the A's (3-3) atop the West. One of Armas' drives, a two-run clout in the seventh, made Rick Langford a 2-0 winner over Baltimore; another, a bases-empty blast in the 14th, sent a Red Sox-A's game into the 15th inning and Oakland prevailed 3-2 on a wild pitch.
Bobby Grich's hitting streak ended at 21 games, but some of his Angel (4-2) teammates began to unlimber their lumber. Don Baylor, who began the week with a .187 average, doubled twice and homered to knock off Baltimore 6-2. Rod Carew, who hit .464, went 5 for 5 during a 12-2 drubbing of Cleveland as Ken Forsch became the majors' first 10-game winner. Dan Ford had five RBIs one night, then beat the Indians 3-2 the next when he homered in the ninth and hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th.