Wilmington Morning News - August 18, 1980

Lerch delivers as Phils sweep past Mets


Carlton has it easy for 19th in opener


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


NEW YORK – It was a pressure game. The ball was in Randy Lerch's court. It was up to him.


Steve Carlton, backed by another offensive explosion by the Phillies, whipped New York 9-4 in the first game of yesterday's doubleheader at Shea Stadium. The victory was the fourth in a row for the Phillies and the only thing that stood between them and a five-game sweep was Lerch.


"Sure, it's a big game for him and for us," said Green after the opening victory. "We want to put this thing (series) to bed and it's going to take a strong showing by Randy."


Lerch did not disappoint.


The skinny left-hander gave the Phils a solid 6.2 innings and, thanks to solid relief help from Ron Reed who gained his eighth save, won the nightcap 4-1.


What a difference a week makes.


Last Sunday the Phils dropped a doubleheader at Pittsburgh as the Pirates swept a four-game set.


By sweeping the Mets yesterday to the disappointment of 25,458 noisy fans, the Phils ran their winning streak to five. Since the Pittsburgh disaster they have won seven of their last eight games and ended this road trip with a 7-5 record.


The Phils, whose bats were asleep in Pittsburgh, scored 40 runs on 71 hits in the five games here.


Garry Maddox, Bake McBride and Lonnie Smith led the offense.


Maddox blasted a two-run homer in each game, while McBride had a homer, double and a single in the opener and a double and a single in the nightcap. Smith had a homer, double and a single in the opener and a single in the second game.


"The second game was the key," said Green. "It was important to the team, but also important to Randy. We have been trying to get him back on the right track. Today, he turned in the kind of game we know he is capable of. He pitched out of some jams and got some breaks. In those other games, he didn't get very many breaks."


The victory was only the fourth in 17 decisions for Lerch and his first since he pitched 10 strong innings as the Phils defeated Montreal 5-4 in 11 innings on July 1.


"This one (victory) was a long time coming," said Lerch, who allowed just four hits. "Sure, there was pressure on me. After Lefty did such a fine job in the first game, everybody wanted a sweep. I knew I had to come through.


"Most of my pitches were working today, but the important thing was I did not bury myself when I got in a jam. I had a good fastball and an excellent change-up. You'll never know how important this game was for me."


"We were tired for that second game," said Green, "but everybody wanted it. They really went after it. They could have said, 'Well, we won four and the hell with this one,' but they didn't. They showed me the kind of character I have been looking for in this series."


“I think our character showed," said Maddox, who admits he has been spending long hours working on his hitting. "We knew we weren't as bad as we were in Pittsburgh. We had something to prove and I think we did that. We cannot let up, though. We have to keep going."


McBride, who was scuffling in the early games of the series, says his turnaround was a return to his old hitting approach.


"I've been hitting in the fourth spot and every time I do that, I think about hitting home runs," he said. "Today, I decided to forget about homers and just go for hits. And wouldn't you know it? I got a home run. That s always the way."


After the Phils built up a 9-1 lead in the opener, Green suggested to Carlton that the left-hander might want to skip the last few innings.


"He shook his head," said the manager. "He wanted the complete game; he wanted to stay out there. The Mets have tacked a couple of Ls (losses) on his record this year, so this game was important for him."


Only Cincinnati has been tougher for Carlton during his career. Before yesterday, Lefty had lost two of three decisions to the Mets this year and was 24-27 overall.


"Lefty has had better stuff than he had today," added Green, "but he got the outs when he had to. At times his fastball didn't look like it was popping, but he had an outstanding curve and his slider was consistent."


McBride's seventh homer of the year gave the Phils a 2-0 lead in the first and, after the Mets scored in the second on Doug Flynn's triple to left, Maddox blasted his eighth homer with McBride on base and it was 4-1.


The Phils vaulted in front 8-1 with four runs in the fifth and after Larry Bowa singled home two runs with a shot to right, Ray Burris, now 6-7, was finished.


"To me, Bowa's hit was the big one," said Green. "We had runners on second and third with two out. Just when it looked like Burris was going to get out of further trouble, Bowa came through."


Burris, who combined with Neil Allen for a 3-0 victory over the Phils on April 21, has always been tough on them. That triumph gave him a 9-4 lifetime record against the Phils.


Carlton's toughest inning was the seventh when the Mets scored twice on Lee Mazzilli's double to left field, but errors by Ramon Aviles and Mike Schmidt made the runs unearned. After that, he allowed only an eighth-inning single to Alex Trevino and put the Mets down in order in the ninth.


Loose defense that plagued the Mets throughout the series helped the Phils build their lead to 4-1 in the fifth. With one down, Smith singled to left. Pete Rose then ripped a single to left and the lightning-fast Smith raced to third.


The first error came when Steve Henderson threw wildly, allowing Rose to take second. Seconds later Smith scored when third baseman Elliott Maddox made a wild throw to home plate. Rose scored on Schmidt's sacrifice fly to left.


Lerch, who had not lasted until the seventh inning since July 21, got in trouble with two out in the seventh when he walked pinch-hitter Dan Norman to put runners on first and second.


Reed was summoned, choking off the would-be rally by getting Henderson to ground out to second base.


EXTRA POINTS – Carlton's league-leading strikeout total is 211... Before yesterday, Burris had allowed just two runs in 17 innings after coming off the disabled list on Aug. 6... David Raymond, the Phillie Phanatic, finally made it to Broadway. He entertained during the long afternoon at Shea... Carlton is expected to go after his 20th victory against San Francisco on Friday night at Veterans Stadium... Trillo has batted safely in 11 of the last 13 games... Today is an open date for the Phils, who will open a nine-game homestand beginning with San Diego tomorrow night... Dick Ruthven (10-8) goes against Bob Shirley (9-8) tomorrow night, followed by Nino Espinosa (3-3) vs. Juan Eichelberger (3-0) and Larry Christenson (4-0) vs. Rick Wise (4-5)... After 114 games last season, the Phils were 59-55, in fourth place six games out.