Shortly after acknowledging that power hitter Jack Clark may be lost for the rest of the season, the St. Louis Cardinals showed how much they missed him.
The Cardinals, returning home after a 4-6 trip, managed only four hits off Rick Sutcliffe (17-8) and were trounced, 8-1, by the Chicago Cubs Friday night.
The Cardinals retained their 1 1/2-game lead in the National League East because the New York Mets couldn't handle hot Pittsburgh, but Montreal moved to within two games of first in the tight race.
Clark, who has 35 home runs and 106 runs batted in, sprained an ankle running out a ground ball Sept. 9 at Montreal. The club has been saying Clark was on a day-to-day basis, but Manager Whitey Herzog indicated differently Friday.
"I know we won't have him back soon," Herzog said. "And to tell you the truth, I don't know if we'll get him back at all."
Asked if this meant Clark would not be playing in the playoffs or the World Series, Herzog said:
"I hate to say it, but we probably won't get to the playoffs if he's not back. He means so much to us."
Aside from Clark, the Cardinals have hit just 41 home runs. They have had trouble scoring runs. Thursday night they were shut out by the Pirates, wasting a fine pitching performance by Greg Mathews.
By the time the Cardinals scored, in the eighth inning, the Cubs already had their eight runs.
Errors by David Green and Steve Laga, the replacement for Clark, made three of the runs against Danny Cox (9-8) unearned.
For more than half the season, the Cardinals, with Clark providing the power, were leading the majors in runs and had a team batting average of .285.
But Manager Roger Craig of the San Francisco Giants frustrated Clark by pitching around him in a four-game sweep at Candlestick Park after the All-Star break. Several games later, Clark fell and injured his shoulder and elbow. Ever since, the Cardinals have struggled and their team batting average has fallen below .270.
When Green tripled in the eighth and scored on Tony Pena's groundout, it was the first Cardinal run in 20 innings.
Pittsburgh 10, New York 9--Mets Manager Davey Johnson thought it would be an ironic touch to have John Candelaria celebrate his return to the National League by pitching against his former team.
However, Candelaria, obtained from the Angels earlier in the week, didn't have much of a touch. In rainy Pittsburgh Candelaria lasted 1 innings, giving up five runs and eight hits.
The big left-hander escaped defeat because the Mets were in a hitting mood, too, and hammered Brian Fisher to jump in front, 8-5.
But the Mets' shaky bullpen couldn't protect the lead. Mike Diaz had four hits for the surging Pirates, including a two-run double in the seventh that broke an 8-8 tie.
Darryl Strawberry, his ribs heavily taped after he was hit by a pitch Wednesday at Montreal, led the Mets' attack. He hit his 37th home run following two walks in the first inning and doubled in another run in the third.
Jim Gott, who has not allowed a run in his last 16 appearances, pitched the ninth to earn his 12th save. He ended the game by striking out Strawberry.
The first pitch Candelaria threw in the National League since leaving the Pirates in 1985, was hit for a home run by John Cangelosi.
"I thought Candy threw well," Johnson said. "They just hit the ball well. They had nine hits off my other pitchers. Give credit to the Pirates. They sent a lot of hitters up there."
The Pirates, who have been the best club in the Eastern Division for the last month, have won 18 of their last 23 games.
Montreal 6, Philadelphia 3--Bryn Smith, who spent the early part of the season in the minors recovering from elbow surgery, is just hitting his stride in time for the stretch drive.
Smith (10-7) scattered eight hits in a scoreless six innings to win for the third time in his last four decisions.
San Diego 2, Houston 1--Benito Santiago, a cinch to win Rookie of the Year honors, extended his hitting streak to 22 games and also drove in the winning run in the eighth inning at Houston.
Jim Deshaies shut out the Padres on six hits, one of them a fourth-inning single by Santiago, until the eighth when two singles, a sacrifice, an error and Santiago's infield out produced two runs.