Sid Fernandez pitched one of his infrequent complete games Friday night at New York, striking out 11 and giving up only 6 hits in a 2-1 victory that put the Mets atop the National League East.
It was a rather hollow win for the erratic left-hander, however. He achieved it against the St. Louis Cardinals' "B" team. The "A" team is in the hospital.
Fernandez pitched his third complete game in 35 starts over the last two seasons--against a team that had only four regulars in the lineup.
Missing because of injuries were the heart of the lineup, Tommy Herr, Willie McGee, Tony Pena and rookie Jim Lindeman, who has a sore hamstring and could only pinch-hit.
Manager Whitey Herzog explained the Cardinal problem. "We've got McGee on a day-to-day basis, Herr on a week-to-week basis, Pena and (John) Tudor on a month-to-month basis and (ailing pitcher Jeff) Lahti on a year-to-year basis," he said.
"If this keeps up, you might get to see Louisville (top Cardinal farm club) without going to Louisville."
Fernandez, who had more trouble with a light rain that fell throughout the game than he did with the Cardinal substitutes, struck out Tito Landrum four times.
Third baseman Terry Pendleton, the only Cardinal regular who has been available in every game this season, had three of the six hits. The only regular Fernandez struck out was Jack Clark--twice.
Herr is the latest casualty. The second baseman, who has driven in 15 runs, pulled a groin muscle and joined Pena (broken thumb), Tudor (broken leg) and Lahti (arm trouble) on the disabled list. McGee has a sore hamstring.
Manager Davey Johnson called Fernandez's performance "one of the gutsiest performances I've ever seen. It was probably the best game I've ever seen pitched.
"The conditions, because of the rain, started out bad and got worse."
Cincinnati 4, Houston 3--Ron Oester hit a two-run home run with two out in the top of the 11th inning at Houston to end the Astros' nine-game home winning streak.
The game matched two of the league's best pitchers, Mike Scott of the Astros and Bill Gullickson of the Reds. Both were 3-0, but neither was around for the finish.
Kal Daniels hit Scott's fifth pitch of the game for his league-leading seventh home run, but the only other run Scott gave up in eight innings was unearned. Gullickson had a 2-0 lead until he was chased in the eighth, when the Astros tied it.
Craig Reynolds singled, and Terry Puhl doubled him home. A sacrifice and third baseman Buddy Bell's error allowed the tying run to score.
Scott, the NL's Cy Young Award winner last year, struck out 11 in another superb outing.
Kevin Bass hit a home run in the bottom of the 11th, but nobody was on, and the Astros fell short.
Chicago 6, Montreal 4--Baseball fans seem to have little sympathy for players who become free agents in order to earn as much money as possible.
It is especially true in Montreal, where the Expos have rid themselves of most of their high-priced talent.
The fans at Montreal booed a former favorite, Andre Dawson, every time he came up to the plate on his first visit to the city since he signed with the Cubs.
The jeers didn't seem to bother Dawson. He hit three doubles, scored two runs and drove in two to lead the Cubs' attack.
If the Expos, as expected, have a poor season, the fans will probably switch the boos to the home club.
"The reaction was expected," said Dawson, a 10-yeaar member of the Expos. "It doesn't bother me. Once the game starts, I block all that out.
"I had to decide what was best for me, and the Expos had to decide what was best for them. It was a business decision. Montreal is like a second home to me. I was off to a poor start this season, and maybe this will be the start of something."
San Francisco 7, Atlanta 5--Candy Maldonado hit a two-run home run in the first inning and a tie-breaking single in the eighth at Atlanta to lead the Giants.
After the Giants went into the bottom of the ninth holding a 7-4 lead, the first two Braves hit safely, and in came Jeff Robinson.
He hit a batter and walked two, but he also forced Ken Oberkfell to hit into a pitcher-to-home-to-first double play and retired Ken Griffey on a grounder with the bases loaded to end the game.
Chris Brown and Will Clark also hit home runs for the Giants, who retained a share of first place in the West.