Cincinnati Enquirer - August 3, 1980

LaCoss’ 2-0 Victory Has Reds Feeling Good


By Ray Buck, Sports Reporter


PHILADELPHIA – All along, this has been the season that Mike LaCoss won't tell his grandchildren about.


But something happened here Saturday night that at least gave the Cincinnati Reds a better gut-feeling about the National League Western Dlvison.


LaCoss put the brakes on the Reds' four-game losing streak and won his first game in nearly a month. He went the distance to shut out Steve Carlton and the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-0, Saturday night at Veterans Stadium.


The victory moved the Reds to within three games of first-place Houston, which lost a 5-3 decision to New York.


LaCoss (6-9) used his sinking fastball and slider to keep the Phillies off stride. It was his first victory since July 5. It was the first shutout by a Reds' pitcher since June 8 when Charlie Lelbrandt blanked the San Diego Padres. It was a long time coming.


WHEN IT was over, LaCoss owned a seven-hit shutout. He walked only one batter. But this night will be remembered best for his Great Escapes in the eighth and ninth innings.


Meanwhile, Carlton took a two-hitter Into the seventh inning. The National League's leading candidate for the Cy Young was purring like a finely tuned European roadster. He had collared everyone In the lineup except Dan Drlessen and Davey Concepcion. He had struck out everyone except Concepcion and LaCoss.


But then the Reds, who have a lifetime 17-9 record against Carlton, squeezed out a run that would never have scored if Abner Doubleday had decided that 90 feet, six inches was a nice distance between third base and home instead of 90 feet exactly.


Because Cruz just barely back-slid and limboed his way under Bob Boone's tag for the biggest run of the game. The double shutout was broken. The Reds were Carlton killers again.


The play of the game: Cruz singled and reached second on a walk to Dave Collins. With two outs, Ray Knight bounced an infield single up the middle just left of second base.


SHORTSTOP RAMON Avlles, playing for the injured Larry Bowa, smothered the ball with his body and then couldn't dig it out right away.


Cruz kept running.


By the time Aviles had flipped the ball to second baseman Manny Trlllo, who fired a strike to the plate, Cruz had snaked home.


The Reds, who have now scored five runs in their last four games, added an insurance run in the eighth when Concepcion tripled off the right-center field wall and scored on Driessen's broken bat single to right. Driessen arrived at first base with bat handle in hand.


THE PHILLIES mounted an eighth-inning rally that sent McNamara to the mound and 43,244 fans into hysteria.


Greg Gross, pinch-hitting for Carlton, led off the inning with a single. One out later, Pete Rose singled and Gross stopped at second. McNamara paid LaCoss a visit and decided that his 24-year-old righthander could pitch his own way out of this jam.


LaCoss did. Bake McBrlde and Mike Schmidt – with 134 RBIs between them – grounded out to end the inning.