Wilmington News Journal - August 9, 1980

Too little, too late in Phils’ 1-run loss


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PITTSBURGH – Everytime Dallas Green looks at the Phillies' one-run record he gets a disgusted look on his sun-tanned face.


The manager had that expression last night because his Phillies fell to the Pirates 6-5 at Three Rivers Stadium in the first bout of a four-game weekend showdown – a contest that started an hour and 26 minutes late because of a thunderstorm.


Just when it appeared the Phils were going to be buried by the Bucs' explosive Bats, they came to life and fought back for a 5-5 tie. But in the ninth reliever Tug McGraw faltered and Pittsburgh waltzed off the field with a relatively easy 6-5 conquest.


The Phils are now 17-21 in one-run decisions, but close doesn't count.


"If we could have won just half of the one-run games we have lost we would be leading the division," Green said. "That is a very, very disappointing statistic. Tonight, however, you have to be pleased the way we battled back."


The setback was the seventh straight for the Phils away from Veterans Stadium and dropped them four games behind first-place Montreal, which split a double-header earlier in the day at Chicago.


The Pirates have now won three out of the four games played here and are 7-4 overall against the Phils.


Since coming off the disabled list on July 17, McGraw had now allowed a run in eight games while picking up four saves.


Last night, after putting the Pirates down in order in the seventh, McGraw gave up the winning run in the eighth when Mike Easier opened with a double to the gap in left-center. Pinch-runner Matt Alexander was sacrificed to third and scored on pinch-hitter Lee Lacy's sacrifice fly to center.


Alexander rubbed in it in even more when he ran across the plate backwards with what would prove to be the winning run.


Easier also doubled and scored in the fourth inning at the expense of starter Dick Ruthven, moments after Willie Stargell's two-run homer had given the Pirates a 2-0 lead.


"I don't know how to get Easier out," said Green of the outfielder who is hitting over .700 against the Phils. "He seems to own us."


In the sixth inning, when the Phils scored twice, Pete Rose was easily thrown out at the plate, trying to score on Bake McBride's single to center.


With just one out and the makings of an even bigger inning ahead of them, Green was asked why third-base coach Lee Elia sent Rose.


"He was correct," said Green. "I'm not second-guessing him. You've got to score runs and you're not going to do that holding guys up at third base."


"I never slowed down," said Rose. "I really wasn't sure I was out; I know he (catcher Ed Ott) got me, but I wasn't sure where the tag was."


Reliever Kevin Saucier's lack of control started the Phils' downfall in the sixth inning when the Pirates scored twice to take a 5-2 lead:


"Sauce has been having some control problems," said Green, who also admitted he was not pleased with a fastball Dickie Noles threw down the center of the plate that Rick Rhoden jumped on for a run-scoring single.


For Stargell, the home run was his eighth off Ruthven. He has also hit eight off Phil Niekro and Tom Seaver.


"When you're playing a team like the Phillies, your adrenalin starts flowing," said Stargell. "You come to the park and just let it go. Then, win or lose, when you go home if you have given everything you have, you have a good feeling."


Although Ruthven had gone to several deep counts, he had allowed just one single when Dave Parker led off the fourth with a shot up the middle. Stargell followed, sending a 1-0 pitch over the right-field fence for a 2-0 Pittsburgh lead.


Easier drilled Ruthven's next pitch to center field for a double and scored when Bill Madlock doubled to right.


Ruthven worked out of further trouble and the Phils, who had managed only Rose's single through five innings, started a comeback in the sixth against starting pitcher Rhoden.


Bob Boone opened with a shot to left-center and never stopped running when Easler's throw bounced away from the cutoff man for an error. Pinch-hitter George Vukovich's fly to shallow center was not deep enough to score Boone, but when Lonnie Smith hit a bouncer to Madlock, the third baseman went to the plate. His throw was off-target, allowing Boone to score and Smith to take second on the error.


Rose then doubled to left to score Smith, but was thrown out at the plate on McBride's double. The Pirates built their lead to 5-2 at the expense of relievers. Saucier and Noles in the bottom of the inning. A walk to Easier, a passed ball, an infield out and an intentional walk to Madlock gave the Pirates runners on first and third. Ott ripped a single off Saucier to right to bring home the first run of the inning and the second scored off Noles when Rhoden singled to left.


The Phils, who had not hit a home , run in 57 innings, used back-to-back shots by Garry Maddox and Manny Trillo in seventh to pull within a run at 5-4. They tied in the eighth off reliever Kent Tekulve when Smith walked, raced to third on Rose's single and scored when McBride bounced into a doubleplay.


EXTRA POINTS – Tim McCarver will leave the Phils' broadcast booth for the month of September and return to the active roster... McCarver, who took batting practice yesterday, will become the first catcher to play in four decades... Since 1970, the Phils have a 30-64 record at Three Rivers Stadium... Last night's attendance pushed the Pirates over a million at 1,017,403.