Chicago Tribune - July 12, 1980

Cubs sink to bottom; Figueroa’s the anchor


By Dave Nightingale, Chicago Tribune Press Service


PHILADELPHIA – The way the Cubs have been playing lately, it was bound to happen.


The Phillies – abetted in no small measure by the inept play of Cub rookie outfielder Jesus Figueroa – defeated Manager Preston Gomez's runless wonders 7-2 Friday night. The loss, coupled with St. Louis' victory at Montreal, dropped the Cubs into last place in the National League's Eastern Division.


Friday's defeat was especially bitter for the Cubs because they wasted a fine six-inning pitching job by Phillie-killer Lynn McGlothen and a four-hit night by shortstop Ivan DeJesus.


"I love to pitch against the Phils," McGlothen said before the game, an understandable sentiment considering his four straight victories over them. "They used to knock me around a lot, but that was when I was tipping off my pitches by not protecting the ball during my windup," McGlothen continued. "But they can't read me now; I've corrected the problem.


"The funny thing is that the guy who told me I was tipping my pitches, when I was with San Francisco, was the Phils' pitching coach, Herm Starrette."


NO ONE IN Philadelphia was accusing Starrette of treason Friday night, however, because the victory moved the Phils into a tie for first place with Montreal in the East.


In fact, none ot the 58,151 fans [50,209 paid] even had time to accuse Starrette. They were too busy laughing at the foibles of Figueroa, a replacement in left field for [disabled] Dave Kingman.


The chief benefactor of the outfielder's misadventures was Phils' rookie Bob Walk, who recorded his fifth straight victory since being called up from the minors in late May.


Figueroa's problems started in the second inning when, with Bob Boone on second and two out, he hesitantly approached a soft liner by Pete Rose. The ball bounced at Figueroa's shoetops and rolled past him, enabling Boone to score.


A charitable official scorer credited Rose with a double [the first of three for him], reasoning that Figueroa had lost the ball in the lights.


LARRY BOWA'S two-out bunt single scored Garry Maddox in the fourth for a 2-0 Phils' lead, but the Cubs fought back into a 2-2 tie in the sixth after loading the bases with none out.


The deadlock lasted less than five minutes. Mike Vail started in for Mike Schmidt's drive in the last of the sixth, then raced back for the ball, only to see it bounce off the wall for the first of Schmidt's two triples. Maddox's sacrifice fly scored Schmidt with the go-ahead run.


Things went completely awry for the Cubs in the last of the seventh, and reliever Bill Caudill was the victim. Figueroa again figured prominently in the three-run inning for the Phils, misplaying another Rose fly ball [into a double] and a Schmidt liner [into a triple].


Figueroa did walk off the field with his head high in the last of the eighth, however, after back-to-back doubles by John Vukovich and Rose provided the final Phils' run., Rose tried to score on Greg Gross' fly to short left, and Jesus rifled him out at the plate.