- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"When you find the Lord and get Him in your heart, everything is fine," said Garry Templeton upon returning to the Cardinals (3-5). Templeton, who had undergone psychiatric care in the three weeks following his suspension for making obscene gestures on the field, was certainly reborn at the plate; he had hits in his first four at bats, stole a base and accounted for all the St. Louis runs in a 3-2 win in Montreal. Joaquin Andujar, who is 46-49 against the rest of the league, ran his record against the Expos to 9-0 by beating them 7-4 with the aid of Darrell Porter's five RBIs. The latest victim of the Cardinals' injury hex was their bat boy, who suffered a fractured kneecap when struck by a foul.
Montreal (4-4), meanwhile, was fretting over the fracture of the right hand sustained by Tim Raines. It will probably limit him to pinch-running the rest of the season. Bill Lee returned to the rotation, beat St. Louis 4-3 and lost to Chicago 2-1. As Lee himself described it, he "winked out—went nuts" after his defeat, kicking over a clubhouse blackboard and screaming as he jogged around a nearby park. Two other pitchers experienced no such frustration against Chicago: Scott Sanderson won 11-0 with a five-hitter, and Bill Gullickson was a 4-0 victor as he struck out 13 and gave up only three hits.
Just when the Mets (4-3) looked as though they would again be the Big Apple's lemon, they started playing like a top banana. Not even 15 strikeouts in eight innings by Steve Carlton of the Phillies could deter the Mets, who won 5-4 when John Stearns hit his first home run in 25 months and 769 at bats. Overcoming a bunch of Carlton whiffs was nothing new for New York, which 12 years and one day earlier had beaten him 4-3 even though he had tied a major league record with 19 strikeouts. In fact, Carlton's career record, 261-173 against the rest of the league, is only 25-28 against the Mets. New York also socked it to St. Louis 8-1, 6-2, and 7-6. The final victory in that series was achieved when Mookie Wilson walloped a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning. Hubie Brooks batted .500.
While defeating the Cubs 8-2, Luis Tiant of the Pirates (2-2) struck out eight batters and hit a three-run double. Mike Easler's RBI double in the ninth, followed by two errors on one play by Phillies Leftfielder Gary Matthews, helped Pittsburgh beat Philly 7-6.
Matthews redeemed himself the next day, getting three ribbies as the Phillies (4-2) drubbed the Bucs 8-2. "I felt like Thomas Edison," said Dick Ruthven of his experiments to solve a second-season pitching breakdown that had resulted in a 6.38 ERA. Finally, after viewing tapes of himself—he found he was turning his body too much during his delivery—Ruthven adjusted his form, held the Mets to five hits and won 3-1.
Last season's batting champ, Bill Buckner of the Cubs (1-3), who was in a dreadful early-season slump, raised his average to .313. His two-run triple, plus the fine pitching of Mike Krukow and Randy Martz, took care of Montreal 2-1. Since going to the bullpen, Martz has had a 0.35 ERA in 13 relief appearances.
ST. L 21-17 MONT 20-19 NY 19-20 CHI 17-20 PHIL 17-21 PITT 16-23
By combining something old—a stance he first used 10 years ago—with something new—lifting weights—Alan Ashby has given division-leading Houston (4-3) some much needed power. Ashby, who didn't have a homer before the strike, slugged his fourth since it ended as Vern Ruhle beat the Giants 8-1. Joe Niekro defeated San Diego 9-0.