Mike Scott's strikeout total is soaring rapidly, but the Houston Astros' right-hander would trade a few strikeouts for a victory or two.
Scott struck out 11 in eight innings Friday night at Houston and gave up only two hits, but one of them was a home run by Mike Fitzgerald and Scott was a 1-0 loser to the Montreal Expos.
Bryn Smith and Jeff Reardon held the Astros to three singles and Scott's record dropped to 4-4.
This was Scott's 13th start of the season and he has pitched well in almost everyone of them. He has pitched 89 innings and has 98 strikeouts. He leads the league by 22 strikeouts and is 36 ahead of Dwight Gooden, two-time strikeout king of the majors.
Despite his newfound strikeout pitch, just about every game has been a struggle for Scott, a 31-year-old right-hander from Santa Monica. Two of his victories were by 1-0 scores. In his last three defeats the Astros have scored two runs.
In his last 23 innings he has given up 14 hits and only four runs, while striking out 30 batters. His record during the stretch is 0-2.
Never before in a career that began with the New York Mets in 1979 has Scott been known as a strikeout pitcher. Until this season, he averaged 4.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He gives credit to a new pitch, a forkball.
The Expos believe they know a different reason for Scott's success.
"Everytime we checked a ball there was a scuff mark," Montreal Manager Bob Rodgers told UPI. "He's definitely doing something. We looked at his glove, but there was nothing there. He'll keep on doing it until somebody catches him."
Scott, who has allowed only eight earned runs in his last 44 innings, scoffs at the notion.
"I don't let it bother me," he said. "If anything, it gives me more incentive on the next pitch after they look at the ball. I've been checked before, but Montreal seems to do it more than any other team."
Chicago 6, Atlanta 1--Ryne Sandberg remembered that when the Cubs were winning the East in 1984, they had a habit of giving their pitchers an early cushion.
In this game at Chicago, Sandberg hit a three-run home run in the first inning and a solo home run in the third and helped Scott Sanderson breeze to victory.
Until his first homer, Sandberg had gone 0 for 14 against Atlanta pitching this season.
"I wasn't aware of that," Sandberg said, "but I felt good at the plate. It helps the team morale when you score early and it gives the pitcher a better chance."
New York 8, San Francisco 7--In addition to being good, the Mets are also lucky. In this game at New York, after the Giants scored in the top of the 10th on rookie Rob Thompson's home run against bullpen ace Jesse Orosco, the Mets pulled it out on a weird play.
Two singles, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly enabled the Mets to tie the score in the bottom of the 10th. With two out and a runner on second, Rafael Santana hit an infield popup. Instead of being the third out and sending the game into the 11th, it became the game-winning blow.
Shortstop Jose Uribe collided with Thompson just as the second baseman was about to make the catch and Kevin Mitchell raced home from second base.
Philadelphia 2, San Diego 0--Kevin Gross gave up eight hits at Philadelphia, but he became the first Phillies pitcher to pitch three complete games in a row in three years. Steve Carlton last did it in 1983.
"Sure," said Gross (4-5), "I've been disappointed in my performance. I've been down. My head has been hanging. I just hope nobody gives up on me."
The Phillies scored both runs off Eric Show (3-3) in the fifth. Juan Samuel singled in one and scored the other.
Cincinnati 6, St. Louis 4--Ron Oester drove in three runs at Cincinnati with two home runs and the skidding Cardinals lost their fifth in a row.
Ray Burris, the loser, doubled to start the three-run third that chased John Denny, but the Reds scored a run in the sixth to beat him. Joe Price pitched 3 hitless innings of relief to win it.
Bo Diaz also homered for the Reds. Cardinal pitchers have given up 31 home runs this season, while Cardinal hitters have hit 12.