Atlanta (4-3) won a game even though its scheduled starting pitcher didn't show up until after game time. Seems that Pascual Perez, who had just that afternoon received his driver's license, couldn't find his way to the ball park. Nor could Perez, a Dominican who speaks little English, understand the directions he got. What should have been a 20-minute ride became a three-hour-and-20-minute excursion on I-285. Phil Niekro started in Perez' place and stopped Montreal 5-4, the first of four straight wins for Atlanta, which had lost 19 of 21. Reliever Gene Garber saved three of those games, including Sunday's 10-9 defeat of the Mets in which the Braves came from behind four times.
Jerry Reuss of first-place Los Angeles (3-3) was late for his start in Chicago—sort of—because the Wednesday game couldn't begin until after the finish of Tuesday's contest, which had been halted by darkness at 1-1 after 17 innings. The Dodgers used all 25 players in that game, including Fernando Valenzuela in both rightfield and leftfield. Reuss took the mound in the 18th and won 2-1 when Steve Sax doubled, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly in the top of the 21st. Reuss then started the regularly scheduled game, went five innings and won 7-4. Valenzuela muzzled Pittsburgh 1-0 two days later on two singles.
Big innings buoyed the Giants (2-4), whose nine-run fifth toppled the Pirates 16-9. San Francisco also jarred St. Louis, overcoming a seventh-inning 7-0 deficit and pulling out an 8-7 victory. Jack Clark batted .471 and Jeff Leonard had three homers and 11 RBIs.
Tim Lollar of the Padres (2-4), whose slider had flattened out, went to work on his curve and used it to stop the Cubs 2-0. Houston (5-3) was led by Vern Ruhle, who blanked Philadelphia 2-0, and Dickie Thon, who may not be as animated as Tron but has hit in 28 of 30 games. Nolan Ryan won for the eighth time in his last nine decisions, beating Montreal 5-3 on a five-hitter.
LA 69-56 ATL 67-56 SD 65-59 SF 64-61 HOUS 57-66 CIN 47-77
Some odd things happened in Toronto: The Blue Jays (2-4) climbed out of the basement for a few hours, and a game was delayed five minutes because of sunlight. By beating Cleveland 2-1, Toronto moved up to sixth. It was the latest point in any of their six seasons that the Jays had been so high in the standings. But a doubleheader loss to the Indians the next day put the Jays back in last place. It was during the first of those two games that First Baseman Willie Upshaw dropped a routine throw because the sun got in his eyes. Unlike every other major league park, home plate at Exhibition Stadium is in the southwest, rather than the northwest, corner of the diamond. It was after Upshaw's error that time was called until the sun's glare was reduced. Cleveland (4-2) took that twin bill 6-5 and 9-5, Andre Thornton's homer in the ninth settling the opener. Rick Manning's .571 hitting and two wins by Rick Sutcliffe (11-4) also perked up the Indians.
Rollie Fingers' sore right elbow had the Brewers (4-2) justifiably worried. But nine days' rest and two cortisone shots restored Fingers to good health and enabled him to notch his 28th save.
The Orioles (4-3), however, were still concerned about the tendinitis in Scott McGregor's left shoulder. McGregor lasted only 12 pitches during a 9-3 loss to Minnesota, giving up hits to all five men he faced.
Troubles also hounded the Red Sox (3-4). Jim Rice reinjured his back. Dennis Eckersley got a muscle spasm in his pitching arm when he threw a sidearm breaking ball. And Bob Ojeda went on the disabled list after pulling a muscle in his left leg when he slipped in the shower. After an all-night flight from Boston to California, the Sox suffered a 10-2 drubbing at the hands of old friend Luis Tiant.