Wilmington Morning News - August 4, 1980
Lonnie ‘n Pete Show a big hit as Phillies win
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – For years, the Phillies had a one-two punch that left opposing pitchers groggy. If Mike Schmidt didn't beat you, Greg Luzinski would.
That once-awesome attack has been replaced by the new double-barreled salvo of exciting rookie Lonnie Smith and veteran practitioner Pete Rose.
Smith & Rose are proving to the Veterans Stadium faithful that you don't have to continually blast baseballs out of the arena to make the opposition tremble.
The plot is simple. Smith, the leadoff batter, gets on base – with regularity. Then, the uncanny discipline of Rose takes over. Smith usually steals second and before you know it Pete is either moving him to third or bringing him home with a single.
The Phillies whipped Cincinnati 8-4 in a contest that was not nearly as close as the score.
The first three times up on the scorching afternoon, Smith walked and singled twice. Each time he stole second and each time he scored. His third run gave Nino Espinosa and the Phils a 3-1 lead.
The first time up, after Smith had stolen second, Rose moved him to third with an infield chopper to the right side. The next two times Peter Edward, who had three hits to improve his average to .292, singled, with the fleet Smith easily racing home from second.
Smith has now stolen 10 straight bases and 17 of his last 18 to lead the team with 20. He has scored 45 runs in 59 games. Since June 22, he has stolen 16 bases and scored 13 times after the theft.
The victory was the seventh in 10 games on this 13-game homestand that some people say is crucial if the Phils are to remain in the thick of the National League East chase. The Phils are three games behind first-place Montreal which came from behind to defeat Atlanta yesterday.
Had it not been for the fact that Luzinski has been on the disabled list since July 8 with a knee injury, Smith would not be getting the chance to play every day.
"But by getting that chance I am more comfortable," said Lonnie, who is hitting .348. "What you're seeing now is pretty much what I have been able to do in the minors. I am very comfortable, very relaxed. If I play every day, I feel like I can steal between 40 and 60 bases.
"Having Pete Rose batting behind me is really helping. He's such a disciplined hitter, , he has such a good eye. He's willing to sacrifice a swing or even give himself up completely if it means I am going to get in scoring position."
"I've never been in this role before; I was always the leadoff hitter," said Rose, who has 116 hits with 61 games to go. "I'm up there sometimes giving myself up to get him over to second or third base. But with the guys bringing him in after me, it doesn't matter. It always good to get that first run.
"In this role, I. have to be more patient and I'm pretty patient to start with. He runs on his own, so I cannot rely on the signs. I've told him not to worry if I'm taking two strikes. There are certain pitchers in the league I can take two strikes on because, when I'm swinging the bat well, I'm a better two-strike hitter than I am hitting 2-0. I'd much rather hit with a man on second than a man on first. I guess the biggest thing is you cannot be overanxious in that situation. You have to always be thinking about the pitchout."
The Phillies have not hit a home run in 35 innings, but with the new dimension the team has suddenly found, Manager Dallas Green is not worried.
"I don't care if we don't hit another home run as long as we win. That's the name of the game and the kind of game we're going to have to play," said Green. "We don't have home-run hitters other than the one guy (Schmidt) and right now he's not hitting them. He has before and he will again, but we can't sit back and wait for that and our guys know that.
"Lonnie's speed makes this kind of baseball a lot easier to play. He's of the Omar Moreno-Ron LeFlore mold that we have been battling defensively. When they get on, they steal second and something happens. The first thing you know, they have a run on the board. We're doing the same thing now."
Espinosa gave the Phils six crafty innings and was breathing easy after his teammates exploded for six runs against loser Bruce Berenyl (2-2) and reliever Mario Soto on just three hits in the fifth. There were three walks in the inning, with Bob Boone's bases-loaded double producing three of the runs.
The Reds pulled even at 1-1 in the second when catcher Joe Nolan singled George Foster home from second base.
Cincinnati, which won the season series 7-5, got its second run off Espinosa in the top of the sixth and added two more off Ron Reed who worked the last three innings to gain his seventh save.
EXTRA POINTS – Schmidt, who has been slumping of late, put on a T-shirt and shorts and took batting practice after the game... Ramon Aviles filled in for shortstop Larry Bowa, who is recovering from a calf injury... Rose needs just one more run to tie Eddie Collins for 10th place on the all-time list with 1,818... Smith has hit in eight of the last 10 games... Bake McBride was given the afternoon off... Today is an open date with the Cards coming in tomorrow for the start of a three-game series... John Fulgham will face Dick Ruthven in the opener.