Dwight Gooden pitched a five-hitter Tuesday night at New York for his 10th consecutive victory, and George Foster drove in both runs, in a 2-0 Mets' win over the Montreal Expos.
Although he won't be 21 until November, Gooden is already the most impressive pitcher in baseball.
His fifth shutout and 10th complete game improved his record to 16-3. In less than two seasons, the hard-throwing right-hander has 33 victories.
Gooden struck out 10 to increase his major league-leading total to 173. In 398 innings in his career, he has struck out 449. Gooden struck out the side in the first and fifth innings. He has already struck out the side 25 times in his career.
The last time Gooden lost was May 25, when he gave the Dodgers three runs in seven innings. That is about as bad as he pitches.
Bill Gullickson matched Gooden until the sixth, when Wally Backman singled, stole second and scored on Foster's single to left. That was all Gooden needed, but Foster singled in another in the eighth.
"Dwight is a pitcher who comes along once in a lifetime," Met Manager Davey Johnson told the Associated Press. "He is in total control at all times. Tonight, his curve was his best pitch."
Catcher Gary Carter agreed with the manager.
"It was his best curveball ever," Carter said of the young man who is best known for his blazing fastball.
"Doc (Gooden) is the type of guy, as the game wears on, (who) gets stronger and stronger. When he's popping it from the beginning, he's impossible to beat."
Gooden was warned by umpire Frank Pulli when he threw a pitch close to Gullickson in the fifth after Gullickson threw a pitch close to Carter.
Gooden denied he was retaliating.
St. Louis 11, Chicago 3--Despite the heroics of Gooden, the Mets remained three games behind the Cardinals in the East Division. In this game at Chicago, the Cardinals continued their successful trip.
The league's leading hitter, Willie McGee was 5 for 6, including a home run and a double, scored three runs and drove in two to lead the assault on the injury-riddled Cubs.
McGee, raising his average to .346, hit a first-inning home run to start the downfall of rookie Steve Engel, just up from Iowa of the American Assn. Engel was pressed into service because most of the Cub starting pitchers are hurt, including Rick Sutcliffe, who was placed on the disabled list for the third time this season. Engel lasted into the fourth, giving up six runs.
The Cardinals, who are 7-0 against the Cubs this season, have won eight of the last nine games. On this, their longest trip of the season, they are 8-4, with two more left at Chicago.
"This is our longest trip since I've been with the club," Manager Whitey Herzog said. "We were hoping to play .500, so you would have to say we are playing well."
Jack Clark drove in four runs, three of them with his 20th home run, and has 75 RBIs this season.
Cincinnati 4, Houston 1--Mario Soto and Nolan Ryan are two of the best pitchers in baseball, but before this game at Cincinnati, they had only one victory between them in the last six weeks.
Soto, who had an eight-game losing streak until he finally won July 22, won his second game in a row. Ryan gave up two runs in the first inning and lost his sixth in a row. He hasn't won since June 17. In six innings, Ryan struck out seven to increase his career total to 4,019.
"You know when you go up against Soto it's going to be tough," Ryan said. "But you have to score more than one run to beat him. I'm not unhappy with the game I pitched."
Player-Manager Pete Rose beat out a bunt in the seventh inning to move within 27 hits of breaking Ty Cobb's record. The fading Astros are 2-13 in their last 15 games.
San Diego 5, Atlanta 4--The Padres grabbed the lead three times in this game at Atlanta and finally went in front to stay in the 12th.
Jerry Royster hit a sacrifice fly to score Tim Flanney from third with the winning run.
The Padres led, 2-0, in the second, fell behind, 3-2, then scored twice in the eighth when Steve Garvey opened the inning with a single.
But in the bottom of the eighth the Braves tied it on a walk, a single and a groundout to send it into extra innings.
Philadelphia 2, Pittsburgh 0--Kevin Gross doubled in the only runs of the game in the fourth inning at Pittsburgh and improved his record to 10-8. But after handing the Pirates their seventh loss in a row, Gross was more impressed with his hitting than his pitching.
Gross gave up six hits in six innings before the bullpen came along to save the win.
"They hit every pitch I threw and hit it hard," Gross said. "The guys just made great plays behind me."