Wilmington Morning News - August 28, 1980

‘Elder statesmen’ help Carlton to 20th


By Rod Beaton, Staff Correspondent


PHILADELPHIA – Age can be a pretty insidious thing for athletes. Their life span, on the field that is, is about the same as that of a feudal serf.


But some, the truly great ones, age more gracefully than Lauren Bacall. Past their prime, they still have that winning formula.


Last night the Phils' almost-geriatric set provided the intense, intelligent baseball that has made them among the league's premier players for over a decade and it resulted in a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Moreover, the triumph was Steve Carlton's 20th. The 35-year-old left-hander reached that plateau for the fifth time, his fourth with the Phillies.


It moved the Phils 2½ games behind the Pirates, who lost 7-4 to Atlanta.


Carlton made it last night, his second try, thanks to a spirited team-wide effort, but no one showed more of that vitriolic flair than the two other elder statesmen, Tug McGraw and Pete Rose.


McGraw, his 36th birthday Sunday, provided an inning of perfect relief in the ninth, recording save No. 14. It was particularly delicious not only as a service to Carlton, but because the final out was one Bill Russell. You'll recall Russell was McGraw's sparring partner at the Monday Night Fights.


Rose did his bit, driving in the winning run in the bottom of the eighth, executing a perfect hit-and-run RBI groundball to score Larry Bowa from third.


The 39-year-old first baseman, to whom middle age is only a period in history – and not his own – dove into the stands for a spectacular catch on a foul fly and ripped three hits, one for his other RBI.


"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."


To get "it," Carlton had to pitch through pain.


"I didn't have the great stuff," said Carlton on the radio post-game show. "It was muggy out there.


"I had some problems in my lower back tonight," said Carlton, the league-leader in wins, strikeouts, earned run average and Cy Young award hoopla. "But I was able to crank it up."


He gave the Dodgers problems in an area just beyond their lower back, striking out eight and yielding eight hits in the same number of innings.


Dodger starter Bob Welch lasted 6.1 innings as Los Angeles twice relinquished one-run leads.


The Dodgers had tied the game at 3 on Ron Cey's solo homer in the sixth, but the Phils won it with heady play in the eighth, beating rookie reliever Steve Howe, 6-6.


Bowa led off with an infield single, the Phils' third. Catcher Bob Boone, Carlton's co-conspirator in this 20-win season, sacrificed successfully.


Green pinch-hit Keith Moreland for the tiring Carlton. The slugging rookie drilled a single to left, but Bowa had to hold third.


Lonnie Smith, he of the fast, if erratic, wheels, ran for Moreland. And run he did. With L.A. playing halfway, on a hit-and-run, Rose placed the ball on the ground to short. Bowa scored, Smith advanced and the Phils won.


"They were halfway," said Rose, who studies the game like a Latin scholar. "That's why Dallas had the hit-and-run on – no double play. He didn't want Lonnie to steal the base because then they'd walk me."


And he knew Rose could deliver.


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


The Dodgers greeted Carlton with consecutive first-inning doubles to left. Lopes scored on Russell's.


It is possible Carlton was somewhat unnerved by what transpired on the two pitches preceding Russell's RBI. Twice his hooks fooled the shortstop who lost his bat, flinging it right onto the mound.


Russell probably learned that routine from teammate Jay Johnstone, whose bat sails farther than most of his throws.


The Phils tied it in the second when Garry Maddox singled, stole second, and scored on Boone's base hit to right.


The Dodgers broke on top again in the fourth. Dusty Baker walked, advanced on a wild pitch-strikeout (slumping 0-for-the series Steve Garvey) and scored on Joe Ferguson's single.


They squandered a bases-loaded threat, however, when Welch popped to Manny Trillo.


The Phils moved ahead with a two-run fifth. Aggressive baserunning cost them a run, but then gained one.


Rose doubled in Carlton, who'd led off with a single. Rose tried for three bases, however, and was, rubbed out standing up.


Bake McBride followed with an infield single and Mike Schmidt did the same, as Lopes couldn't recover after breaking for second on a hit-and-run. McBride reached third.


He then tried for home on Greg Luzinski's hard hopper to Garvey. The embattled first baseman, whose personal life has become more of a cause celebre than the who-shot-J.R. dilemma, threw the ball 20 feet up the line, into the L.A. dugout.


McBride, naturally, scored the go-ahead run, which stood until Cey cracked his 20th homer.


PHILS FACTS – McGraw struck out Johnstone and Lopes and got Russell on a grounder... Schmidt was 1-for-1, he walked thrice... Carlton's last regular-season win over L.A. was Aug. 7, 1977... Carlton trails the O's Steve Stone for the major-league lead in wins. Stone has 21... Add Lonnie Smith to the Phils' large "I don't talk to the press" brigade. No reason given... The Phils embark on their 11-game road swing tonight and open a four-game set in San Diego tomorrow night at 10 (Channel 17) with Larry Christenson. Dick Ruthven and Nino Espinosa go in Saturday's twi-nighter (Game 1 on 17) and Bob Walk Sunday... Next home game is Sept. 8 against the Pirates.