Wilmington Morning News - April 21, 1980

Phils’ firemen fan flames in final innings


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


MONTREAL – In the end it came down to the Phillies' bullpen against the Expos' bullpen. Tug McGraw vs. Elias Sosa.


And in the end what everybody said would be the weak link in the 1980 Phillies could not shut down Montreal in the ninth inning in the bitter cold at Olympic Stadium.


Gary Carter's sacrifice fly scored Andre Dawson from third base to give the Expos a 6-5 victory over the Phils.


The setback also gave Montreal a 2-1 edge in the weekend series and sent the Phils back home with a disappointing 2-3 record on their first road trip of the season.


"The pitchers have got to be able to hold leads," Manager Dallas Green muttered after the numbing loss. "The offense has been doing everything anybody can expect, but the the pitching has got to be able to hold leads."


The offense battled from behind three times yesterday, but Lerrin LaGrow and McGraw could not hold leads. Hits off LaGrow in seventh melted a 5-3 Philadelphia advantage.


Luis Aguayo's sacrifice fly off reliever Dave Palmer in the eighth put the Phils back on top 6-5, but Montreal tied it off McGraw in the bottom of the inning and won in the ninth off the veteran left-hander.


"You just cannot walk leadoff batters in tie ballgames and expect to win," McGraw said in the dressing room. "That is not the way to play this game."


McGraw walked Dawson on a 3-1 pitch to start the ninth and after fanning the dangerous Ellis Valentine, gave up a single to Larry Parrish that bounced in front of Maddox in center field. As the ball tipped Maddox' glove and bounced away, Dawson raced to third.


Carter then lofted his fly to left and it was over.


"In fairness to Tug he has not pitched in eight or nine days, but he is a professional and cannot walk batters in that situation," added Green.


In the eighth, Warren Cromartie singled to left and was sacrificed to second by shortstop Chris Speier, who committed two costly errors for the Expos. Speier's bunt appeared to be heading foul to the right of homeplate when Bob Boone picked it up and rifled to first.


"We have to take the outs when we can get them," Green said, justifying Boone's action. "If it had been the pitcher, the situation would have been different. Here, he got the out when he had to."


With Cromartie on second, McGraw got Tony Bernazard looking at a third strike, before Ron LeFlore drove in tying run.


Randy Lerch started for the Phils against Bill Lee and after a shaky start settled down.


"He was over-throwing the ball in the first inning or so," said Green. "Once he settle down, he was OK."


Lerch left in the seventh after the first two batters up singled. LaGrow could not shut off the rally, setting the stage for Montreal's comeback.


Sosa came in and put the Phils down in order in the ninth.


"They think if they can stay even all they have to do is bring Sosa in," said Green. "Today, it worked."


"We could have quit several times today, but kept coming back," said Montreal Manager Dick Williams. "We made a lot of mistakes today and still won. Sosa took the fire out of them in the ninth."


The Phils took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Pete Rose doubled, went to third on Bake McBride's fly to center and scored on Maddox' infield out.


Montreal exploded for three in the bottom of the inning and it looked like a long day for Lerch.


With two down, Dawson homered to left and Valentine followed with a homer, also to left. Lerch, obviously rattled, gave up a double to Parrish who quickly scored on Carter's liner through the middle.


It was McBride, who drove in four runs in Saturday's 13-4 romp, who delivered the key hit in the fifth when the Phils tied on two unearned runs.


Larry Bowa was safe on Speier's error and Aguayo, filling in for the injured Manny Trillo, singled sharply to right. Bowa was thrown out at third when Lerch attempted to bunt, but with runners on first and second, McBride sent a liner to left-center. LeFlore almost caught up to the ball after a long run, but it bounced off his glove for a triple.


Luzinski, after fouling off several pitches with one out in the sixth, blasted a 3-2 pitch to the seats in left for his third homer, giving the Phils a 4-3 lead.


With two out in the seventh, McBride singled to right and scored on Maddox' double to left that finished off Lee In favor of Stan Bahnsen.


Lerch, who had allowed just two singles since the first and retired 10 batters in a row, ran into trouble in the seventh. Back-to-back singles by pinch-hitter Bernazard and LeFlore, followed by Rodney Scott's sacrifice, put runners on second and third.


LaGrow was summoned to face Dawson. Bernazard scored on Dawson's infield out and LeFlore raced home from second with the tying run on Valentine's single to left. It was Valentine, whose home run a week earlier off LaGrow, gave Montreal a 5-4 victory in 10 innings at Veterans Stadium.


LaGrow finally got out of the inning, but not before Parrish singled and Carter sent Luzinski against the left-field wall for the third out.