Wilmington Evening Journal - August 28, 1980

Carlton savors 20th win in vintage year


By Rod Beaton, Staff Writer


PHILADELPHIA – It has been a bad year in France's wine country.


That might not seem relative to the Phillies' pennant charge, but if there is one thing Steve Carlton cherishes, it is a good glass of burgundy.


He also savors wins. He has plenty of chances. Last night the Phils' 35-year-old left-hander defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 at Veterans Stadium for his 20th victory of the year.


They might not be having a good year in Burgundy, but Carlton is in "Philadelphia. The first National League pitcher to win 20 is having a vintage season. His harvest has been excellent; he's leaving his foes with the sour grapes.


Lefty put the squeeze on the Dodgers, moving the Phils 2½ games behind the Pirates, who lost to Atlanta. Carlton got the job done with considerable help from two other aged veterans – Pete Rose and Tug McGraw.


Rose delivered three hits, a fielding gem and, ultimately, the game-winning run batted in on a sacrificial hit-and-run grounder in the eighth.


McGraw made that run stand up with a perfect inning of relief, downing the Dodgers for save No. 14. Furthermore, he followed two strikeouts by retiring Bill Russell on a grounder for the last out. Russell, you will recall, went after McGraw during their Monday Night Fights encounter.


Carlton tugged on his hat brim, reached back and, with less than his best stuff, stopped L.A. on eights – eight hits and eight strikeouts in eight innings. With the Phils thirsting for a victory to end the homes-tand at 4-5, Carlton's second try for No. 20 was successful.


It was the fifth time Carlton reached the 20-win plateau and his fourth with the Phils. There was one season, 1972, when he reserved a seat on baseball's Mount Olympus, winning 27 with a miserable last-place club, The big left-hander, running almost unopposed for the Cy Young Award, thinks this season is comparable.


"It's right there with 72," he told a radio interviewer, maintaining the silence with print media to which he so religiously adheres.


"In '72 I went through with control of three pitches. I don't have the same control this year. I'm not as consistent to spots. I lost something off my fastball, but my slider and curve are there."


So are the accolades. From both sides of the foul lines.


“We went out with intensity," said Phils Manager Dallas Green. "I know he (Carlton) wanted it and I know the team really wanted it for him.


"It's not over by any stretch of the imagination. He'll have chances to win a few more games."


The Dodgers have a longshot Cy Young candidate of their own in Jerry Reuss. who joins the Pirates Jim Bibbv at 15-4 in Carlton's wake. But Los Angeles Manager Tom Lasorda cannot overlook greatness.


"He pitched a good game, no doubt about it," he said, no doubt wishing he could say the same for his troubled starter, Bob Welch. "We hit the ball pretty good, though. He's a hell of a pitcher, a tremendous competitor."


Carlton had to stoke his competitive fires on a night when every breath felt like it was filtered through a hot, wet sponge.


"I didn't have the great stuff," he said. "It was muggy out there.


"I had some problems with my lower back tonight. But I was able to crank it up."


Nobody has to crank up Rose. If there were as many self-starters in other professions, the gross national product would double.


After drilling three hits and crashing into the stands to grab a foul fly, he delivered the key blow – nothing more than a routine grounder.


After the Dodgers twice led by a run, the Phils went ahead 3-2 with a two-run fifth. Ron Cey then tied it in the sixth inning with a solo homer.


Welch, who had lost his last three decisions and six of the last seven, looked poised to drop another in the seventh. With two on and one out, Lasorda defied percentages and went with rookie fireballer Steve Howe, a lefty, to face right-handed boomers Greg Luzinski, Manny Trillo and Garry Maddox. It worked.


"It worked very well for him," noted Green. "If you face Luzinski, Trillo and Maddox with a lefthander and come out unscathed, I'll say it worked."


But only temporarily.


Larry Bowa led off the eighth with a single to deep short, the Phils' third infield hit of the night. Bob Boone, who deserves a chunk of the credit for the 20 victories as Carlton's collaborator, sacrificed Bowa to second.


Green batted Keith Moreland for Carlton. He was rewarded with a tracer to left, its sheer velocity forcing Bowa to hug third. Lonnie Smith, faster than a speeding baseball but more prone to fall than a beginning skater, ran for Moreland.


The Phils put on the hit-and-run. Rose promptly grounded to short, scoring Bowa. Textbook simple when it's Pete Rose at the dish.


"That's Pete Rose for you," said Green, beaming. "He knew what it meant to us as a team. I knew he'd hit it and it'd be on the ground."


Lasorda was looking for two outs for the price of one.


"We had the infield back," he said. "We were definitely looking for the double play."


Smith's running circumvented that.


"That's why Dallas had the hit-and-run on – no double play," said Rose, who despite his obsession with statistics is the first to recognize what winning takes and then does it. "He didn't want Lonnie to steal the base because then they'd walk me."


Carlton took a walk – onto the field to thank his teammates and the 39,116 fans. He became the second-winningest pitcher in the majors. The Orioles' Steve Stone has won 21.


Interestingly enough, Stone's reputation as a wine connoisseur exceeds Carlton's. They must be doing something right. The Phils will drink to that.


PHILS FACTS – Loser Howe is 6-6... Schmidt was 1-for-1; he walked three times... Carlton's last regular-season win over L.A. was Aug. 7, 1977... Add Lonnie Smith to the Phils large "I don't talk to the press" brigade. No reason given... The Phils begin an 11-game road swing with the first of our games in San Diego tomorrow night at 10 (Channel 17) with Larry Christenson starting for Philadelphia. Dick Ruthven and Nino Espinosa go in Saturday's twi-nighter (Game 1 is on 17) and Bob Walk starts Sunday... The Phils' next home game is Sept. 8 against the Pirates... Rose needs two more doubles to tie Nap Lajoie for fifth on the all-time list with 650 and three more to tie Honus Wagner for fourth... Dodger reliever Joe Beckwith had X-rays yesterday on his elbow and hand hurt sliding Tuesday. They were negative... Shortstop Russell and second baseman Lopes, often maligned for defensive deficiencies, are working on errorless streaks of 36 and 35 games, respectively. That's quite an accomplishment since the runway-hard infield at Chavez Ravine is their home.