Camden Courier-Post - August 16, 1980

Christenson sharp as Phillies lace Mets


By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post


NEW YORK – If the Phillies are to remain a factor in the National League's Eastern Division pennant race, it is safe to assume they are going to need a healthy Larry Christenson on the mound.


So it was with something more than casual interest that Phillies Manager Dallas Green watched his tall, lean righthander face the Mets last night before a Shea Stadium crowd swelled to 44,754 by the lure of post-game fireworks.


What Green and the other Shea observers saw was a performance that was nothing short of astonishing. In an 8-0 victory, Christenson allowed only four singles – two of them by second baseman Doug Flynn – struck out five and walked none over six innings.


That would have been a fine night's work for any starting pitcher. But it was made all the more remarkable by the fact that Christenson hadn't faced a National League hitter in 11 weeks. Indeed, less than three months ago, Christenson was lying on an operating table have bone chips removed from his right elbow.


"I couldn't be happier," said Green. "He gave us a fine game. But, more than that, it looks like he'll be ready to go down the stretch with us."


Green's pleasure was at least matched by that of Christenson, who made just 66 pitches before lefthander Tug McGraw took over in the seventh, protecting the shutout and getting credit for his 12th save with three innings of two-hit relief.


"My arm felt better than I expected it would," said Christenson. "After just throwing in the bullpen for such a long time (during his rehabilitation), when I got between the white lines it did feel kind of funny. But my first pitch was right there, and my next pitch was right there, and it felt good.


"It was nice. We got four runs in the second, then it was ‘go get them.'"


The Phillies went out and got righthander Mark Bomback, who beat them in his first major league start and shut them out in his second, with five singles in the second. Their cause was aided by third baseman Elliott Maddox, who threw away a Christenson bunt for an error. But the truly remarkable thing about the inning was the Phils scored without a contribution from streaking Mike Schmidt.


Schmidt went into the game with 12 hits, including four home runs, a triple and a double, and 10 RBIs in his previous 19 at bats. Last night, however, Schmidt's was an infield single that concluded the second-inning rally.


It began with one out when Garry Maddox worked Bomback for a walk. Larry Bowa, who would finish the game with three hits, sent Maddox to third with a single to right. And Bob Boone plated the first run when his slow bouncer ticked off the end of Flynn's glove for an infield single.


After Elliott Maddox bungled Christenson's bunt, allowing Bowa to score from second, Lonnie Smith delivered the second of his three singles and Pete Rose followed with another to make it 4-0.


Rose would again single in the seventh for his 3,500th career hit, making him fourth on the all-time list, earning a warm ovation from the Met fans, who amused themselves on an otherwise dismal evening by staging several entertaining fist fights.


The Phillies contented themselves with the four-run lead until the eighth, when Manny Trillo slugged a Tom Hausman pitch over the left-field wall for his third home run of the season. Singles by Maddox, Bowa and George Vukovich, who entered the game as a pinchhitter for Christenson in the seventh, would follow and it was 6-0.


Rose made it 3,501 by opening the ninth with a single and an out and a Flynn error later, Trillo sent Rose home with a sacrifice fly off Jeff Reardon, the final of four Met pitchers. All that remained was for Garry Maddox to single home Bake McBride, who had gone all the way to second on Flynn's error.


"To tell you the truth, "said Green. "I'm just as happy about our offense as I am about L.C. We've been struggling and now we've put together two good offensive games."


Indeed, in the two games thus far in the five-game series, the Phillies have outscored the Mets, 16-1, and outhit them, 30-11.


And, as important as a healthy Christenson will be in September, a robust offense will be every bit as vital.


PHIL UPS – Christenson's last start was May 21... He went into the game with a 9-4 lifetime record against the Mets... His only other start against New York this year was April 23, when be kicked off another injury-marred season by pulling a groin muscle in the second inning... Bomback went into the game with a 2-0 record against the Phils, having defeated them in his first two major league starts... Mets will activate Craig Swan (5-8) to pitch today against Bob Walk (8-2)... Flyers are to meet the Islanders in benefit softball game after this afternoon's game... Lonnie Smith was thrown out twice attempting to steal second by Mets catcher Alex Trevino.