Houston Tops L.A. to Take Division Title

After dropping three straight one-run affairs to the Los Angeles Dodgers and doubling business in their own city's cardiac units, the Houston Astros finally clinched the National League West crown, downing the Dodgers 7-1 in a one-game playoff yesterday in Los Angeles.

Things looked bad for the Dodgers from the start when catcher Joe Ferguson dropped the first pitch of the game and second baseman Davey Lopes booted a ground ball from Houston's leadoff hitter Terry Puhl. But things got worse.

Space Shot

The Astros took advantage of two Dodger errors in the first to jump out to a 2-0 lead, and Art Howe launched a two run homer in the third to up the margin to four.

After batting 434 in the month of September and giving Houston clutch hits down the stretch, Howe provided the Astros all the offense they needed yesterday, rapping three hits and knocking in four runs.


Los Angeles used six pitchers from its injury riddled staff in trying to halt the Astros, while Joe Niekro went all the way for Houston to collect his 20th win of the season.

With only one night to savor their first title, the Astros travel to Philadelphia to start the National League Championship Series tonight. Ken Forsch is scheduled to face Steve Carlton in the opener.