National League Roundup : Cubs’ Losing Streak Finally Comes to End, 7-3
The standing room crowd of 35,876 delighted fans jumped to its feet and gave the Chicago Cubs a five-minute ovation Wednesday.
They deserved it.
The Cubs, losers of a club record-tying 13 straight games, had just beaten the New York Mets, 7-3, at Wrigley Field to finally put an end to the streak.
Chico Walker caught the final out in left field and, as he approached the dugout, he flipped the baseball into the stands.
“I got it! I got it! Wow!” said a woman in a purple polo shirt, clutching the ball as if it was a World Series souvenir.
In the clubhouse, Manager Jim Frey said the weight of the world was “pretty much” off his shoulders. The losing streak had “bothered everybody,” said Frey, who guided the Cubs to the NL East title last season and was expected to do the same this season.
“We haven’t played well,” he admitted. “We made some mistakes. It hasn’t been all bad luck.”
Chicago’s streak started June 12 with a 2-0 loss at Montreal. At the time, the Cubs were 34-19 and led the NL East by 2 1/2 games. Entering Wednesday’s game, Chicago was 34-32 and fourth in the division, five games behind first-place Montreal.
“After losing 13 in a row, we can taste this victory,” said Keith Moreland, whose three-run homer in the sixth inning off New York reliever Roger McDowell (5-3) gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead.
“It’s a lot better feeling winning than losing,” said Moreland, who was with the Cubs in 1982, when they also lost 13 straight, tying a mark set in 1944.
Ray Fontenot (2-3), the last Cub starter to earn a win before the losing streak, got the victory with help from relief ace Lee Smith, who blanked the Mets over the last two innings for his 16th save.
Thirty minutes after the game, thousands of fans were still in the stands--cheering loudly and refusing to go home.
Cincinnati 6, San Francisco 4--Player-manager Pete Rose knows that a good beginning often leads to a happy ending, so he was pleased to see Gary Redus hit the first pitch of the game for a home run at Riverfront Stadium.
Things got no better for San Francisco, which also allowed Eddie Milner to knock in three more runs with a pair of singles as the Giants lost their sixth in a row.
“Milner got the clutch hits, and Gary got us off good in the first inning,” Rose said. “You can’t start any better than 1-0 after the first pitch, can you?”
Dave Parker added a solo homer for the Reds to help offset consecutive solo homers in the eighth by the Giants’ Bob Brenly and Chris Brown.
Redus’ game-opening homer, off a hanging curveball from Mike Krukow (5-5), helped make a winner of Tom Browning (7-5). Browning scattered six hits in his third complete game, striking out five and walking two. Ted Power came on to retire the last four batters in order for his 11th save and his third in four games.
Rose had two singles and is 41 hits away from breaking Ty Cobb’s all-time mark of 4,191.
Pittsburgh 11, Montreal 2--Marvell Wynne drove in three runs and Bill Almon and Jason Thompson drove in two apiece to help the Pirates past the Expos at Pittsburgh.
Rick Reuschel (4-1) scattered nine hits in going the distance. Reuschel walked two and struck out seven.
The loss went to Jack O’Connor (0-1), who gave up nine runs, eight of them earned, on eight hits and two walks over the first 1 innings.
In the eighth inning, Montreal Manager Bob Rodgers used his third-team catcher, Sal Butera, as a pitcher.
Butera retired the three batters he faced and even threw a blooper pitch for a ball to Pirate catcher Tony Pena.
George Hendrick grounded out and Jason Thompson flied out before Butera threw a fast ball past Pena. Butera then lofted a slow-motion blooper pitch, which Pena ignored before grounding out on the next pitch.
“I throughly enjoyed myself,” Butera said. “I was just hoping they wouldn’t hit the ball up the middle.”
Butera said he pitched in youth leagues and several times in the minor leagues in similar situations.
Philadelphia 6, St. Louis 4--Ozzie Virgil slammed a two-run homer in the sixth inning to help the Phillies extend their winning streak to five games with the victory at Philadelphia.
John Denny, who pitched the first six innings, got the victory to even his record at 5-5. Don Carman blanked the Cardinals for two innings and Kent Tekulve relieved in the ninth to earn his sixth save. Danny Cox (9-3) took the loss.
Atlanta 3, Houston 1--Pinch-hitter Albert Hall lined a run-scoring triple in the 11th inning to lead the Braves over the Astros at Houston.
Hall’s one-out triple drove in Glenn Hubbard, who led off the inning with a single off loser Dave Smith (4-3). Hall then scored on Claudell Washington’s sacrifice fly to center off Jeff Calhoun, who came on in relief of Smith.
Jeff Dedmon (4-0) was the winner in relief, going two innings and giving up one hit. Bruce Sutter pitched the final inning to earn his 13th save.