Wilmington Evening Journal - August 20, 1980

Red-hot Phils burn Padres


By Kevin Noonan, Staff Writer


PHILADELPHIA – When you're hot, you're hot. And the heat generated by the Phillies' recent surge has also heated up the National League East pennant race.


Last night at Veterans Stadium, the Phils pounded out 15 hits, eight for extra bases, as they rallied past the San Diego Padres 7-4.


The victory, coupled with Pittsburgh's 5-2 defeat in Houston, moved the, Phils to within 2vi games of the first-place Pirates. It also moved them to within a half-game of Montreal, 3-2 losers to Los Angeles. The Phils have won six consecutive games and 16 of their last 25. For the first time all year, they are 10 games over the .500 mark.


"We're getting hot, and we have to get hotter," said fiery relief pitcher Tug McGraw, who pitched the final two innings without giving up a run to notch his 13th save. Starter Dick Ruthven (13-6) got the victory. "We can't be just warm, either. It's the time of the year to get hot and stay hot."


McGraw should know about being hot. He has six saves and an 0.86 earned run average since coming off the disabled list July 17.


In the first inning, at least, the heat was all on the Phils and Ruthven. The Padres, solidly cemented in the NL West basement, took a 3-0 lead on RBI singles by Ozzie Smith, Jerry Mumphrey and rookie Luis Salazar.


But the Phils scratched back, finally scoring the tying run on Manny Trillo's solo home run in the fifth inning, his third homer in five games.


The Phils took the lead for good in the fifth. After Trillo hit his homer over the left-field fence, Garry Maddox hit a ground-rule double to the right-field corner. Larry Bowa followed with another double, to the corner in left, to score Maddox with the eventual winning run.


The Phillies added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh on pinch-hitter George Vuckovich's two-run double.


"We're just playing better, offensively and defensively," said Trillo. "Nothing more than that; there's been no magic formula. We're executing well, but more than anything we're really stinging the ball. Hitting like we are will win a lot of games."


Trillo is just one of a horde of Phils who have been adding to their offensive stats lately. The Padre pitching tandem of starter Bob Shirley (9-9) and reliever Mike Armstrong did little to snuff out the Phils' fire.


Bowa led the Phils' hit squad, going J-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. Lonnie Smith, Schmidt, Bake McBride, Trillo, and Boone all had two hits. Pete Rose was the only Phillie starter to go hitless.


It appeared as if Ruthven wouldn't be around to enjoy the Phils' fireworks. The right-hander struggled with his control before settling down to hold the Padres to one run after the first inning. Salazar, who had tripled, scored that run in the fourth on Craig Stimac's sacrifice fly.


"I was concerned in the first inning," said Manager Dallas Green of the Phils. "Dick didn't have real good stuff. He couldn't get his breaking ball over and his fastball was up. But he came back and kept us tight."


Ruthven pitched a six-hitter in his seven innings, but six walks kept him in trouble. Three of the bases on balls were to Padre slugger Dave Winfield, who walked on eight pitches his first two times up.


The Phils didn't wait too long before getting to Shirley. McBride led off the second inning with a double to the left-field corner, but Shirley got Trillo to line out to Willie Montanez at first before striking out Maddox. With two out, Bowa hit Shirley's first pitch for a Texas League single to right, knocking in McBride.


Schmidt and Smith helped bring the Phils back to within a run, at 3-2, in the third. Smith led off the inning by boating out a single to deep shortstop. With Rose at the plate, it appeared as if Shirley had Smith picked off, but the fleet left fielder beat Montanez' high throw to second. After Rose grounded out to Ozzie Smith at short, Schmidt lined, a 2-2 pitch into center field to drive in the run.


If anything has been encouraging to Green and his staff, it has been the offensive production from the bottom of the batting order. Boone has hit in seven of his last eight games, hiking his average from .222 to .235. Maddox has hit in six in a row and boosted his average from .250 to .262, and Bowa has hit in five straight and increased his mark from .235 to .251.


"That has been as big a key in our winning as anything," said Trillo. "We can't depend on the same guys every night. When the bottom of the order starts hitting, we're extra hard to beat. It's a cliche to say that hitting is contagious, but it works out that way. This is the time to do it."


It's usually around this time that Trillo starts to wilt under the late-summer sun.


"To tell you the truth. I've never been doing so good so late in the season," said Trillo. "Usually I do good early in the season. I'm stronger this year than I have been in the past. I've always started strong but had trouble in August and September. I can feel the difference. I'm more confident at the plate. I'm confident that I'll get at least one good ball to hit."


"Manny's as good a hitter now as in April," agreed Green. "He didn't play winter ball as much as in the past. He's playing heavier by some 5-7 pounds, and he's been able to maintain that weight."


Green could have added something to that assessment. Trillo has also been able to maintain his batting stroke, and that's one of the main reasons the Phils have been able to maintain their contending position in the East.


PHIL-UPS – The Phils' next 19 games are all against the three National League California teams. San Francisco and Los Angeles follow San Diego into the Vet, before the Phils take off on a nine-game West Coast trip... The Padres' Mumphrey stole two bases last night, giving him 27 straight thefts After 116 games last year, the Phils were 60-55, in fifth place, six games out of first place... The Phils will send Nino Espinosa (3-3) against Juan Eichelberger (3-0) tonight. In tomorrow's 12:35 business-person's special, Bob Walk (9-2) goes against ex-Phil Rick Wise (4-5).