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With Mike Schmidt slugging three homers and with Dick Ruthven and Steve Carlton pitching superbly, Philadelphia (4-3) hung tough. Ruthven cooled off Atlanta 6-1 on a three-hitter. And Carlton fanned 12 Astros, gave up only two hits and won 2-1 when Schmidt homered in the last of the ninth. On Sunday, Schmidt, who batted .407 for the week, hit his 30th tater as the Phillies beat the Astros 4-3 and pulled to within half a game of the division-leading Cardinals.
Montreal and Pittsburgh continued their prolonged scuffle for third place. The Expos (4-2) were aided by Jeff Reardon's three saves. Steve Rogers (16-7) defeated the Reds 3-1 and the Braves 2-1. Randy Lerch, only the second Montreal lefty to start a game since last October, throttled Cincy 2-1. Half an hour's notice was all that newcomer Lee Tunnell of the Pirates (3-3) had before starting in place of John Candelaria, who had an inflamed shoulder. Tunnell, a 21-year-old righthander who went to Baylor, went seven innings against L.A. yielded four hits and wound up a 1-0 winner after Rod Scurry and Kent Tekulve got the final six outs.
There was joy in Mudville: The Mets (3-3) ended a 15-game losing streak when Pete Falcone beat the Astros 5-1. But there was also another painful loss—1-0 to Cincinnati when rookie Rick Ownbey balked home the game's only run in the fourth inning.
ST.L 76-59 PHIL 76-60 MONT 73-63 PITT 72-64 CHI 60-77 NY 53-81
Tommy John was obtained last week by California (2-4) from the Yankees for three players to be named later. As the Angels rode to Milwaukee County Stadium for a game, one of John's new teammates called out, "There's your movie" as the team bus passed a movie theater where Escape From New York was playing. Although John defeated the Brewers 5-2, California couldn't escape second place. Geoff Zahn (15-6) won an 11-O laugher over Detroit as Brian Downing drove in five runs and walloped two homers. Downing equaled an American League record that day by leading off the game with a home run for the sixth time this season.
Kansas City (2-4) remained first even though Hal McRae, who leads the majors with 115 RBIs, drove in only one run. Amos Otis was fined an undisclosed amount and suspended for five days for throwing his bat three times while being struck out in the sixth inning by Mike Smithson of Texas. In the third inning, Smithson had hit Frank White on the left elbow with a pitch and had conked Otis on the back of his helmet. Smithson went on to win 7-3. Charlie Hough of the Rangers (3-4) gave the Royals an even rougher time, prevailing 6-0 on a three-hitter.
It was a day of vindication when Gaylord Perry of Seattle (2-4) beat Boston, and Bill Caudill went the final two innings to preserve the 4-3 victory. During Perry's previous outing against the Red Sox he had been ejected for supposedly doctoring the ball. Caudill ended the game with a strikeout of Reid Nichols, who two weeks earlier had hit game-deciding homers off him on successive nights.
"If we're dead, how come we're still living?" asked Rich Dotson of the White Sox (6-1), who had been prematurely interred by skeptics. Dotson helped resuscitate his team by running his string of victories to seven with a 4-1 defeat of Cleveland and a 4-0 triumph over Texas. Also alive and well were Jerry Koosman, whose four-hitter took care of the Indians 6-0; Jim Kern, whose 5? hitless innings got him two saves and a win; and Greg Luzinski, who batted .583, homered three times and drove in 10 runs.