Wilmington Evening Journal - April 17, 1980

Phils’ Noles adapts well to new relief role


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


ST. LOUIS – What looked certain to be an 8-0 Steve Carlton shutout was suddenly an 8-3 ballgame and the Cardinals lad the Phillies' lefthander on the ropes.


Carlton breezed into the ninth inning at Busch Memorial Stadium yesterday working on a four-hit shutout. With one out, St. Louis exploded for four consecutive hits, and although the victory was still safe, Manager Dallas Green was forced to get his pitching ace out of the game in a hurry.


In came Dickie Noles to face Tom Herr with George Hendrick on first base. The young right-hander got Herr to hit the ball on the ground, the Phils turned a nifty double play and the game was over – an 8-3 triumph for the Phillies.


Noles stalked off the mound as if he had handled similar situations hundreds of times before.


In reality, coming in to put out the fire in a tense situation is a new role for Noles. But in two games he has answered Green's call and done a solid job.


As early as last December when it appeared certain the Phils would not be able to make a deal with Texas for reliever Sparky Lyle, Green told people Noles could do the job.


"I still feel that way," said Green as the Phils prepared to leave for Montreal. "It is a role he can fill. I like the way Dickie comes at hitters. I think our guys do, too. He goes after them and challenges them. He has demonstrated more and more that he can get the ball over the plate and doesn't scare. He's got some belly.


"I've always had in the back of my mind that he'd be a damn good bullpen man. All he has to do is be consistent and so far he has done that."


It was last July' 5 that Noles swaggered into Veterans Stadium, an emergency call-up from Oklahoma City the day after three starting pitchers went down with injuries. Used mostly as a starter, he compiled a 3-4 record and a 2.80 earned run average.


"I don't mind switching to relief," said Noles when asked how he views his apparent role. "I'll do anything to pitch in the majors. Hell, I'm a scrub. I just want to pitch on this club, so whatever I can do I'll do.


"In relief, you still have to get people out. I just come in and pitch. I've never relieved that much, but I'm willing to try it and give it my best.


"Relieving is different now. Everybody is a specialist. You're expected to come in, go right at them and get 'em out. That's what a pitcher is supposed to do, whether he's a reliever or a starter. Like I said, I want to be here. It doesn't matter to me what they have me doing."


"The only thing Dickie lacks is confidence," added Green. "He has to know his control and stuff are good enough to do the job as a hammer in relief. A little self-doubt sometimes will lick you, but I think he is past that stage."


Carlton, his nasty slider working to perfection, won the 150th game of his career and had the roof not caved in in the ninth, might have nailed down his 43rd lifetime shutout. The victory gave the lefthander a 2-0 record this year and left him with a 24-8 record against St. Louis.


Carlton walked a 2-0 tightrope for most of the afternoon after the Phils scored twice in the fourth on consecutive doubles by Garry Maddox, Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski off starter Bob Forsch.


In the ninth, the Phils exploded for six runs off relievers Roy Thomas and Don Hood. That cushion proved to be the difference when the Cards bombed Carlton.


"The key to winning a game like this is to have command of more than one pitch," said catcher Bob Boone. "Carlton had an outstanding slider, plus a good fastball and change. The Cardinal hitters are primarily looking for the fastball, so when you have a good off-speed pitch, you have something going for you. That's what Lefty had today."


Boone said the Phils had planned to bring Tug McGraw in in the ninth inning, but that the left-handed reliever was not ready.


"Steve lost it in the ninth; he had nothing," said Boone. "Before that, he was in complete control of the situation. He had a little trouble early with his release because the mound is so high here, but he adjusted in a hurry."


The Phils did not have a hit when, with one down in the fourth, Maddox doubled to left-center. Schmidt and Luzinski followed with their doubles and it was 2-0.


"I thought we should have gotten more than the two runs," said Green. "Bob Forsch did not have his real good stuff today, but we did not take advantage of that."


After Luzinski's double, Forsch walked Boone. Larry Bowa hit into a force and the right-hander got out of further trouble when Manny Trillo forced Bowa at second.


The Cardinals' had the makings of a rally in the seventh when, with two out, Bobby Bonds walked. The count went 3-2 to George Hendrick, who sent a sizzling liner out of the park 10 feet foul in left. He then hit another hard foul before he flied out to center.


A double by Boone and two-run singles by Manny Trillo and Maddox were the keys to the Phils' ninth.


With one down in the ninth, Keith Hernandez doubled and scored on Ted Simmons' single to left. Simmons came home on Bobby Bonds' triple and the third run came across when Hendrick singled to center.


Somebody mentioned to Green that to beat the Cardinals you have to get to their bullpen.


"We were unable to do that on Tuesday night, but today we did it," said the manager. "That's what we're going to try to do every-time."


"We had our chances against Carlton early," said St. Louis Manager Ken Boyer. "We did not take advantage of them and you saw what happened."


EXTRA POINTS - Maddox had to leave the game for a pinch runner in the ninth when his ailing hip began to bother him. It's the same injury he has been nursing since spring training. Greg Gross is also bothered by a leg injury... The Phils left immediately after the game for Montreal. They will work out at Olympic Stadium today and then play the Expos in three afternoon games... Dick Ruthven will go against Scott Sanderson tomorrow, Larry Christenson will face Steve Rogers on Saturday and Randy Lerch will oppose Bill Lee on Sunday... Forsch entered the game with an 11-7 lifetime record vs. Philadelphia. Carlton was 3-1 vs. his old teammates last year... Pete Rose needs just two more runs to tie Jimmy Foxx (1,751) for 13th place on the all-time list... Ailing pitcher Nino Espinosa threw on the sidelines yesterday for the second day in a row and reported little soreness in his right shoulder. He said he thinks he is on the right track to returning to competition.