Wilmington News Journal - August 3, 1980

Phillies’ offense slows in 2-0 loss to Reds


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA – It was like one of those slow-motion vignettes on TV. You could count to five between the action.


It seemed like eons from the time Ray Knight slashed his infield single behind second base until Hector Cruz slid away from Bob Boone's tag at home plate.


This was the seventh inning of last night's 2-0 Cincinnati victory over the Phillies and Steve Carlton in the sweltering humidity of Veterans Stadium, when home-plate umpire Paul Runge signaled Cruz safe, the Reds had ended a scoreless stalemate and given right-hander Mike LaCoss all the offense he needed.


The Reds added their second run in the eighth when Dave Concepcion tripled and waltzed home on Dan Driessen's single to right, but the run in the seventh was the one most of the 43,244 customers will remember.


Carlton, who now has a 9-17 lifetime record against the Reds and 1-3 this year, had walked a tightrope until the seventh.


Cruz, who started the night hitting .224, opened the seventh with a sharp single to left. After LaCoss popped out to charging first baseman Pete Rose while attempting to bunt, Carlton walked Dave Collins. Ron Oester fanned and up came Cruz.


Ramon Aviles, subbing for the injured Larry Bowa at shortstop, dove for the Cruz' bouncer and scooped it up. He managed to get the ball out of his glove and sling it to Manny Trillo. Trillo, who might have had his view of home plate partially blocked by Collins, threw to Boone. The throw beat Cruz to the plate, but Boone seemed to have trouble moving to his left to make the tag.


"I never stopped running," said Cruz. "I was watching Russ Nixon (third-base coach) and he had me going all the way. The throw beat me to the plate, but I slid across the back part of the plate. I thought Boone was slow coming over with the tag. Maybe my slide messed him up. I don't know. All I know is if the umpire had been out of position, he might have called me out. It was that tough."


Phils' Manager Dallas Green, when asked about the play, became testy.


"It (the play) wasn't the easiest bleeping thing to do," said Green. "Dive on the Astroturf , stop the ball, get your act together and throw the ball back-handed... that's pretty tough to do. I don't know what you guys want."


Even though that was the winning run, that's not what defeated the Phils. What did them in last night was Mike LaCoss, who had struggled to a 5-9 record and a 5.20 earned run average before the start.


"He pitched a helluva game," said Green after the Phils failed to score after threatening in the eighth and ninth innings. "And our guy didn't do too badly, we just didn't get our offense together. You have to give the credit to LaCoss. I thought we would get him early, but he really got his act together in the middle innings and pitched out of the jams he had to pitch out of. He kept the ball down and his control was excellent."


The Phils fell three games behind the division-leading Expos, who defeated the Atlanta Braves 5-1 last night. Second-place Pittsburgh was rained out.


The Phils, who like the Reds, had seven hits, mounted their best threat in he eighth. Greg Gross, batting for Carlton, singled to left and after Lonnie Smith's long fly was hauled in by center fielder Collins, Rose singled to right. That brought up the torrid-hitting Bake McBride.


McBride hit a grounder to third that forced Rose at second and the threat ended when Mike Schmidt hit a bouncer to the shortstop.


"That pitch he threw McBride in the eighth was the best sinker he threw all night," said Reds' catcher Johnny Bench. "LaCoss has not been pitching well for us except for the last couple of starts. He's had some back problems, but tonight, he was outstanding. He had a sinking fastball and a rising fastball. His control was super. If we can get some offense to go with out pitching, we're going to be OK. Our pitching has been very good.


"Mike LaCoss beat Steve Carlton tonight. It was that simple. If the play is made at home plate on Cruz and Driessen doesn't get his single, it's still a scoreless game. I thought Carlton pitched well, too."


Carlton, who struck out 10 and walked five, repeatedly worked out of jams until the seventh.


The loss left the left-hander with a 16-6 record and somebody mentioned that that was very deceiving; it could be much better. In his six losses the Phils have scored a total of eight runs. And in his 21 innings against the Reds this year he has struck out 26 batters.


"He had a darn good . fastball ' tonight," said Green. "His slider was quick, probably too quick. Cincinnati is a pretty disciplined team. They all have a good idea of where the strike zone is."


The Phils sent a murmur of hope through the stands in the ninth when Garry Maddox opened with a double, but Trillo grounded out, pinch-hitter Keith Moreland fouled out, and. it was over when Boone grounded out.


EXTRA POINTS – Bowa, who hit a ball off his calf attempting to bunt in the seventh inning on Friday night, probably will be back in he line-up today… Moreland had a seven-game hitting streak ended... Rose made a brilliant diving catch of George Foster's liner in the ninth inning... Season attendance is 1,745,614 compared to 1,975,374 after 52 dates last year… That's a minus of 229,760... Ron Reed one-two-threed the Reds in the ninth... The victory gave Cincinnati a 7-4 record against the Phils... McBride has a nine-game hitting streak... The Phils are now 4-8 in shutouts... The series ends today with Bruce Berenyi going against Nino Espinosa... Berenyi was a 7-3 winner over the Phils and Nino on July 23 in Cincinnati... Tomorrow is an open date after which the Cards come in for a three-game set.