National League Roundup : McWilliams Blanks Reds on 2 Hits

Larry McWilliams shudders at the thought of how close his career came to a premature end last fall.

Two things saved him. First, there was successful rotator cuff surgery. Next, Manager Whitey Herzog of the St. Louis Cardinals invited him to spring training.

With the Cardinal pitching staff almost decimated, Herzog gave the 34-year-old left-hander a chance. And McWilliams has made the most of it.


McWilliams pitched a two-hitter Wednesday at St. Louis as the Cardinals trounced the Cincinnati Reds, 6-0. In improving his record to 3-0, McWilliams pitched his first shutout in almost four years.

In his first complete game in three years, McWilliams walked six and struck out eight. He had offensive support from Tom Brunansky, who hit a two-run home run, and Vince Coleman, who had three hits and who has had eight hits in his last nine at-bats.

McWilliams was a 15-game winner for Pittsburgh in 1983 who was having arm and shoulder problems by 1985. He was 3-11 in 1986 and was out of the majors last season.

“He’s thrown the ball well for us since Day 1 in spring training,” Herzog said. “He has a good forkball and isn’t afraid to use it in key situations.”

McWilliams probably would not be with the Cardinals if the pitching staff had not sustained so many injuries. John Tudor, Danny Cox, Joe Magrane and Greg Mathews, the key starters on the team that won the National League pennant last season, have all been injured. Only Tudor is healthy now.

At first McWilliams was a reliever. But lately he’s been a valuable starter.

“I think about how close I came to not being here,” McWilliams said. “This is the best I’ve thrown in three years. I’m just trying to show the Cardinals how grateful I am.”

The Reds, already hurting, lost right fielder Tracy Jones again. Just off the disabled list, Jones reinjured his sprained left knee in the second inning.

New York 6, San Francisco 3--It took five meetings, but the Mets finally beat the Giants.

In this game at New York, Kevin McReynolds delivered a two-run single in the first inning when the Mets jumped in front, 3-0, and the Giants never caught up.

The Mets, hitless from the second inning through the fifth, broke it open with three runs in the sixth.

Ron Darling (5-3), though he needed help from two relievers, had another solid performance. For the 10th straight time, he went at least seven innings.

Atlanta 2, Chicago 1--The Braves have the worst record in the league, but they are playing better for new Manager Russ Nixon.

Gerald Perry singled home Albert Hall with two out in the eighth inning at Chicago to improve their record under Nixon to 2-1.

Rick Mahler (5-4), who won his fifth in a row as the third relief pitcher, gave up the Cubs’ run on Ryne Sandberg’s single in the seventh. Bruce Sutter pitched a scoreless ninth for his sixth save.

Pittsburgh 4, Houston 3--Many who were praising the Pirates in April have been tearing them down in May.

But, after winning two of three at home against the N.L. West second-place Astros, it may be premature to give up on the young Pirates.

The Pirates scored three runs in six innings off league ERA leader Bob Knepper to tie and won it in the seventh off Joaquin Andujar (0-2).

Andujar retired the first two batters in the seventh, then walked Sid Bream and Barry Bonds. Jose Lind lined a single to center to drive in the winning run.

Bobby Bonilla’s 11th homer for the Pirates accounted for his 37th RBI.

Montreal 6, San Diego 2--Tom Foley, with a pair of doubles, and Tim Wallach each drove in two runs at Montreal.

Dennis Martinez (4-6) went the distance to record his first victory in a month. He gave up eight hits, walked one and struck out five.

Foley’s first double in the fourth put the Expos ahead, 3-2. It was the Padres’ seventh straight road loss.