Atlantic City Press - April 14, 1980

Almon’s Big Bat Bruises Philadelphia, Brings Joy to Montreal


Montreal 5, Philadelphia 4


By Howard Gottlieb, Press Sports Writer


PHILADELPHIA – Out of the faded reality of nitrous oxide, Chris Speier must have heard details of the game he missed Sunday afternoon. A painful abscess made it necessary for the Montreal Expos to call in a dentist for their shortstop. 


The Philadelphia Phillies learned to hate the men in white after Bill Almon, the Expos’ backup, turned in a four-hit performance to lead Montreal to a 5-4 10-inning win in the third game of the Phils’ season-opening series. 


“They officially changed the lineup around 12:30,” said Almon, who said a tearless farewell to a non-communicating San Diego ballclub when it traded him to Montreal this season. 


“In San Diego I asked to be traded. When they told me I was going to Montreal I was ecstatic. I knew Montreal was a winning ballclub and that it was a good opportunity. Even sitting on a winning bench would have been better than staying in San Diego. There was always a communication problem there. Here, I know what they expect of me.” 


The Phillies called in a dentist to look after Speier. “They told me there was a good possibility that I would start,” said Almon. “I was ready.” 


While Speier was being examined, Almon was tearing apart the questionable Philadelphia pitching staff. 


He blasted a Larry Christenson fast ball for a lead-off triple in the fifth inning to start a three-run Montreal rally. 


Phillie manager Dallas Green, who said he was pleased with his mound corps, used three other pitchers down the stretch, but none could stop Almon. He hit three consecutive singles after the triple. 


“Once you get the first hit of the season, it helps you relax a little,” said Almon. “You relax and that helps you build confidence. A couple of the hits today were just well placed balls. People will be in the right spot on other days, so I’ll take those two hits. I won’t be so lucky another day.” 


The Expos had grabbed the lead in the first inning. Christenson walked Ron LeFlore, and he moved to second on a balk. LeFlore went to third on a Rodney Scott sacrifice and scored on Andre Dawson’s fielders choice deep in the infield. 


Philadelphia tied the game in the fourth, starting when Mike Schmidt singled and stole second. He went to third on a Bob Boone single and scored when Larry Bowa outraced a throw to first on a fielder’s choice. 


The tie didn't last long. Almon opened the top of the fifth with his triple, and scored as pinch hitter Rowland Office hit a sacrifice fly. LeFlore walked again, and scored when Dawson blasted a 2-2 pitch over the left centerfield fence. 


“I didn't like the outcome, but it was a good game,” said Green. “We didn't die at 4-1. We showed we could come back.” 


After failing to bring any runs across the plate in a two-hit seventh inning, the Phillies struck quickly in the bottom of the ninth. 


Greg Luzinski and Bob Boone started the wheels rolling with a pair of singles. Bowa smashed a hard grounder up the middle, but Almon took it and tagged Boone. A wild pitch moved Bowa to second. Pinch hitter Greg Gross’ line drive was bobbled by Montreal third baseman Larry Parrish. It scored both Luzinski, who surprised the 28,132 fans at the Vet when he stole second after singling in the second inning, and Bowa. 


Green brought in Lonnie Smith to run for Gross, and Montreal manager Dick Williams countered with reliever Woodie Fryman. 


Pete Rose hit a clutch single and Smith committed himself and was forced to make a desperation beeline to third. He barely made it. 


McBride, having trouble getting the ball out of the infield, then forced the game into extra innings with a single over second. 


"Lonnie going to third was not a mistake,” said Green. “He made it. It’s only a mistake if you’re out. And he damn well better get there if he tries it." 


Smith’s running prolonged the game, but didn't take away Almon's joy. 


Ellis Valentine blasted a lead-off homer over the left-centerfield wall in the top of the 10th to end the game. 


“I like to see the killer instinct that we played with today,” said Rose, whose batting average is well under .200 thus far this season. “We lost, but played aggressively. 


“There are so many one-run games in this league. The one who handles the fundamentals in the middle of the game is the team that’s going to win. There’ll be more games like this, I'm sure. A lot of them.”