For the St. Louis Cardinals, it's something of a home run binge.
Jack Clark hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning at Houston Tuesday night to give rookie Greg Mathews of Anaheim a 3-1 victory in his major league debut.
Clark's sixth home run of the season was the fourth the Cardinals have hit in their four-game winning streak. It must be considered a binge because in their first 43 games the Cardinals hit only 12 and were on a record-setting pace for fewest homers in a season.
The home run was only one of three hits for the Cardinals. Rookie Jim DeShaies (1-2) gave up only two hits in six innings but was the loser.
Mathews, a 24-year-old left-hander from Cal State Fullerton, also contributed a perfect bunt on a suicide squeeze in the fifth for the other Cardinal run.
Mathews, brought up last week from Louisville of the American Assn., had a four-hit shutout until the ninth when the Astros put together three singles for their only run. Todd Worrell came in with the potential tying runs on base and got the final out.
"I wasn't nervous," Mathews told the Associated Press, "just excited and anticipating getting to pitch. I just wanted to keep the game close. Every ball they hit hard went at somebody."
Mathews' performance impressed Manager Whitey Herzog and catcher Mike Heath.
"He threw only 97 pitches," Herzog said. "He got his breaking ball and change-up over and in the right location."
Said Heath: "He kept the ball low and pitched well. Every time I've seen him pitch, he's done everything he's supposed to do."
It is significant that the Cardinals started their home run spurt away from spacious Busch Stadium. Saturday at Cincinnati, Heath and Andy Van Slyke, each hit three-run homers in an 11-2 victory. They didn't hit any Sunday, but Monday night at Houston, Van Slyke hit another three-run blast in a 9-2 win at Houston.
"We're getting home run happy," Herzog said.
San Diego 5, New York 4--Carmelo Martinez hit a double and a two-run home run at New York to extend his hitting streak to eight games, but his performance did not completely satisfy Manager Steve Boros.
Boros was unhappy because Martinez, the leadoff batter in the eighth, took a big swing and hit a little roller to third.
"He totally over-swung," Boros said. "It was a case of going right back to his bad habits. I have been working on him to hit the ball where it's pitched. That's why he got on the streak."
It was the hitting of Martinez, though, that overcame four errors and enabled the Padres to end a four-game losing streak.
San Francisco 7, Montreal 6--Instead of a June swoon, the amazing Giants are 2-0 in the new month.
In this game at Montreal, the third win in a row that put them 1 1/2 games out of first place in the West, may have been a costly one.
Rookie Will Clark may be lost for 10 days when he suffered a hyper-extended left elbow in a collision with Montreal first baseman Andres Galarraga in the third. Dan Gladden and Jeff Leonard were injured when they collided chasing down a fly in the ninth.
Gladden, who singled twice, stole two bases and scored a run, jammed his right thumb, while Leonard, who doubled in a run and scored another, twisted his right ankle.
Atlanta 8, Pittsburgh 5--After hitting a grand slam in the sixth inning at Atlanta to bring the Braves from behind, Ted Simmons felt as if he'd found a fountain of youth.
"That makes you feel you're 20," the 36-year-old switch-hitting Simmons said. "It's powerful stuff."
The pinch home run was the ninth slam of Simmons' 17-year career and climaxed a seven-run rally. The Pirates had a 5-1 lead when the rally began.
The smash made a winner out of Rick Mahler (5-5).
Cincinnati 5, Chicago 3--Nick Esasky, after failing twice to sacrifice, hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning at Cincinnati to break a 3-3 tie and enable the Reds to end a three-game losing streak.
Eddie Milner tripled to open the eighth, and Dave Parker singled him home to tie the score. Esasky twice tried to bunt and fouled off the pitch. He then drove a Jay Baller pitch into the left-field seats.