Wilmington Morning News - July 14, 1980

Pirates tip Phils


Pitching pains culprit in loss


By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent


PHILADELPHIA – The Pittsburgh Pirates picked on the Phillies' reclamation projects yesterday, scoring a 7-3 victory against Nino Espinosa and Warren Brusstar, the "lost arms" of Manager Dallas Green's mound corps.


The Bucs got six runs – including three home runs – off Espinosa, now 0-1 after his second start of the season. Then Pittsburgh added one more against Brusstar, making his first major-league appearance in almost a year.


The loss knocked the Phils out of first place in the NL East, which they'd claimed from Montreal for about 12 hours. The Bucs' winner was Don Robinson, a surgical victim himself after last year's World Series.


Espinosa and Brusstar started the year on the disabled list and needed minor-league sojourns to get some work. Espinosa made his first start against the Cardinals in St. Louis on July 4 and finessed them to death, allowing just two hits in eight innings.


It didn't work against the free-swinging Pirates.


"Like Dick Ruthven earlier this year, Nino has to get it into his mind that he doesn't have a sore arm anymore and he can get people out," said Green. "Finesse is super and it worked well in St. Louis. But it's not going to work 100 percent of the time, as was proven today."


Espinosa is not talking to the press, angered by printed comments from Green about Espinosa's apparent hesitancy to pitch with pain, so his rebuttal will have to wait.


"Nino pitches with his head as well as anybody on our staff." added Green. "With more velocity, he'll help us. In St. Louis, he showed pretty good ability to keep guys off-stride. He had some batters off-stride today but they still got the bat on the ball, which they didn't do in St. Louis.


"All in all, it wasn't a bad performance. We made an error that gave 'em two runs and Nino gave up three home runs."


Which was about all Don Robinson needed.


"About three weeks ago the adhesions in my shoulder finally popped and I'm throwing as well as I did as a rookie," said Robinson, who had to leave the game with a pulled right groin muscle in the ninth before Kent Tekulve finished up.


Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner agreed.


"That's the best he's pitched since his rookie season," Tanner said.


And hit.


Robinson's two-run homer capped the Bucs' four-run second. It was Robinson's first big-league homer – and third as a pro – after a pair in Double A ball - and clattered off the tarps in left center.


"This was my third biggest thrill in the big leagues," Robinson said. "Winning that World Series game last year was the first, my first big-league victory was No. 2 and this is third." The Pirates scored their first two runs with the help of center fielder Garry Maddox s throwing error.


John Milner, who had walked, raced for third on Mike Easler's single to center. Maddox's throw hit Milner in the shoulder and sailed into the stands. Milner got up and scored, while Easier was sent to third.


Ed Ott's single scored Easier and then Robinson unloaded.


Milner and Tim Foli added solo, homers off Espinosa in the sixth and seventh innings to make it 6-2.


The Phils had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on back-to-back doubles by Pete Rose and Bake McBride, but the Bucs' four-spot put Robinson back in command.


Maddox homered in the fourth.


"That's the first sidearm curve I've ever tried," said Robinson of the pitch Maddox hit "I'm going to file that one."


Greg Gross, batting for Espinosa, tried for an inside-the-park homer in the seventh as the Phils scrambled back.


Gross blooped a hit in front of charging left fielder Lee Lacy, who tried but failed to block the bouncing ball. The ball rolled to the left field corner and Bob Boone, who'd walked, scored easily.


Third base coach Lee Elia waved Gross around third but Foli's relay from Lacy nailed him at the plate, despite a collision with catcher Ott, who held the ball.


Brusstar, making his first appearance since last July 24 after coming off the disabled list Saturday, retired the first two batters he faced in the eighth on two pitchers, then surrendered three straight singles for the Bucs' seventh run.


Still, Brusstar felt satisfied.


"It felt great being back on the mound," Brusstar said. "It couldn't feel any better. I just got the ball up when they scored. I wasn't concentrating on the (catcher's) glove like I should."


But Brusstar threw three ground balls in the ninth, which was his strong suit in the two years he was the Phils' top stopper.


“I'm getting stronger every time I throw the ball," said the righthander. "I'm getting the mechanics back. Last year the problem was my shoulder. Now it mechanics."


But Green was pleased.


"It's a matter of mutual trust," Green said. "Bru's got to trust himself (to pitch in a jam) and I've got to trust him to do it.


“If he can get a few innings of getting major-league people out, he might be over the hump."


EXTRA INNINGS - Phils had won four straight and 9 of 12 before yesterday's loss... Pete Rose is 6-for-12 against Robinson... Randy Lerch vs. the Bucs' Rick Rhoden tonight at 7:35 before Phils leave for nine-day, 10-game road trip to Houston, Atlanta and Cincinnati... Ruthven will face the Astros' Nolan Ryan in tomorrow night's Astrodome opener The seven runs were the most given up by the Phils since June 24. It was the most scored by the Bucs since June 12... The weekend drew 153,615, a Vet record... The crowd today was 48,152.