Rick Sutcliffe is playing no favorites in the hot race in the National League East. The veteran right-hander of the Chicago Cubs just beats them all.
Sutcliffe completed a "triple" Tuesday at Chicago when he gave up eight hits and drove in two runs to lead the Cubs to a 6-2 victory over the New York Mets.
In his late season bid for the Cy Young Award, Sutcliffe (18-8) had beaten Montreal and St. Louis in his two previous outings.
Sutcliffe, in becoming the league's first 18-game winner, dropped the Mets 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals with only 11 games to play.
David Martinez broke a 2-2 with a two-out single in the seventh off David Cone (5-5). In the next inning Sutcliffe's two-run single sparked a three-run rally that assured the Mets their third loss in the last four games.
Sutcliffe, also a candidate for Comeback of the Year after going 5-14 with a 4.64 earned-run average last season, was 15-4 after beating Montreal July 28.
But August was a total loss, partly because of a shoulder problem that caused him to miss two starts. He didn't win again until Sept. 13 when he beat Montreal, 5-2, giving up five hits and only one earned run. Last Friday he beat the Cardinals, 8-1, allowing just four hits.
He faced the Mets with only three days rest. He will start three more times, including Saturday against the Cardinals, each time with three days rest.
"Next season, I would like to pitch with three days rest all the time," the former Dodger pitcher said. "You wouldn't believe how much longer it seems waiting that extra day. If I do well in the next three starts I hope they'll let me do it next season."
In his wins against the East's big three, Sutcliffe has gone the distance in each game. In 27 innings he has given up 17 hits, 4 earned runs, 5 walks and has struck out 21.
"It was a very critical game," Manager Davey Johnson of the Mets said. "We're running out of time. But, we've had tough losses before."
Montreal 4, Pittsburgh 3--The Expos, desperately trying to stay alive in the East, sent their hot pitcher and good luck charm, Pascual Perez to face the pesky Pirates at Montreal.
When Andy Van Slyke hit a two-run home run in the top of the eighth, it didn't look good for the Expos. The sizzling reliever Jim Gott was set to protect the lead after Mike Dunne gave a leadoff single to Mitch Webster in the bottom of the eighth. In nine appearances this month, Gott had pitched 14 scoreless innings and earned seven saves.
Hubie Brooks singled and Tim Wallach singled in the tying run, Brooks taking third. Brooks scored the winning run on Andres Gallaraga's infield out.
Perez, although he gave up nine hits in eight innings, improved his record to 5-0. The Expos have won each of his seven starts.
"Even when I gave up the home run," Perez said, "I still had confidence. I know the team plays well when I pitch."
St. Louis 3, Philadelphia 2--Manager Whitey Herzog used a bit of strategy first used by the late Paul Richards in this game at St. Louis and the Cardinals moved a little closer to the division title.
After Mike Schmidt greeted reliever Todd Worrell with his 527th home run to open the ninth and cut the Cardinals lead to a run, Herzog wanted a left-hander to pitch to left-handed hitting Von Hayes.
But, he didn't want to lose Worrell, so he put Worrell in left field and brought in Ken Dayley. After Dayley struck out Hayes, Worrell came back to get the last two outs for his 32nd save. Phils' Manager Lee Elia protested because Worrell was allowed eight more warm-ups after coming in from left field.
Richards managed the Chicago White Sox in the early 50s. On numerous occasions he would use relievers Harry Dorish or Billy Pierce for an out in the infield while the other faced a batter.
"Todd is such an accomplished outfielder that I'm not afraid at all to put him in the outfield," Herzog said. "I wouldn't hesitate to put him in center."
Vince Coleman keyed the Cardinal attack that enabled Danny Cox (10-8) to win for the first time since Aug. 23. He tripled and singled and scored twice.
Shane Rawley (17-10) failed for the fifth time to win his 18th. He did better than he did on Saturday when he gave up eight runs in one inning.
Cincinnati 5, San Diego 3--The Padres' catcher Benito Santiago singled in the fourth inning at Cincinnati to stretch his hitting streak to 24 games, a modern record for rookies.
Three rookies, including Richie Ashburn and Alvin Dark, had 23-game streaks. In 1899 Jimmy Williams of Pittsburgh hit in 27.
Reds' rookie Terry McGriff ended an 0-for-14 slump with a two-run single in the fifth to break a 2-2 tie.
Atlanta 6, Houston 2--Jeff Blauser drove in four runs at Atlanta with a triple and two singles.