Philadelphia Inquirer - July 15, 1980
No place like Dome
Pitching. That's why the Astros hover near the lead of the National League West. And it's not just J. R. Richard and Nolan Ryan it's Vern Ruhle and Randy Niemann and Frank LaCorte.
The Phillies are in the Astrodome tonight (Channel 17, 8:30 p.m.) to begin a tour of the teamsin the Near West. Next stops: Atlanta and Cincinnati.
PHILLIES at Houston (TV-Ch.-17; RadlO-KYW-1060, 8:30 p.m.)
Parker HR beats Phils in slugfest
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
It will be an item for the Book of Lists, Volume 912. You will find it under "Worst-Pitched Baseball Games of the '80s Between Two Teams from Pennsylvania." The videotapes will be shipped directly to the Hanging Slider Hall of Fame.
The Phillies and Pirates ran out 10 pitchers between them in the Pirates' incredible 13-11 win at the Vet last night. None of them got through an inning 1-2-3. A few of them didn't even get to one.
The Phillies used five pitchers Randy Lerch, Lerrin LaGrow, Dan Larson, Dickie Noles and Ron Reed. All five of them allowed more base-runners than they got outs.
They allowed at least one run and at least two hits in every inning but one. When they were through, the team earned-run average had blown up to 3.65. When Lerch went out in the first it was 3.53.
"We pitched pretty well in the fourth inning," said Dallas Green dryly. "There was a zero up there, wasn't there? That was pitching pretty good tonight."
The Pirates used five of their golden arms, too. And they were so "effective that the Pirates managed one of their more-remarkable feats ever – they somehow scored in seven of the first eight innings and still found themselves tied in the top of the ninth (11-11).
But you knew they would find a way to end this somehow. Tim Foli led off the ninth against Reed with his fourth hit, a ground-ball single to right.
Four hits is normally a pretty notable accomplishment. Last night, not only did Foli get four, Bill Robinson also drilled four and Lonnie Smith sprayed five.
Then Reed went 2-and-1 to Dave Parker, floated a change-up around the letters and Parker sizzled it over the fence in right in about three-quarters of a second. It was Parker's second homer of the night, 12th of the year and 16th lifetime at the Vet, more than any other visitor.
The Phillies had one more gasp of semi-offense in the ninth. Greg Gross worked a one-out walk off winner Grant Jackson (7-2). With Smith (already 4-for-5) heading for the plate in a game that was surely baseball's version of the Baker League, nearly anything seemed possible.
And it was. Smith slashed his fifth single to center. When centerfielder Lee Lacy backed up on it, Smith made a needlessly daring bolt for second. Foli's relay throw beat Smith's late, awkward slide. And the Phils were taken out of their final shot.
"He knows down deep that wasn't the play to make," shrugged Green, who is still president of the Lonnie Smith Fan Club. "I mean, you have to mix aggressiveness with common sense in that situation. But he still played some damn good baseball for us, all in all, tonight. So..."
Foli's fine play on a Pete Rose bouncer up the middle finished it after three hours, 33 minutes. It was a game that featured 24 runs, 36 hits, four errors, 21 men left on, eight doubles, three homers, one triple, three stolen bases, one hit batsman, a wild pitch, 11 walks, 35 players, 11 men hitting in the No. 9 spot, two guys caught stealing second, one guy picked off first and, fittingly, a sacrifice fly to the shortstop.
So what do you say about something like that? "We just," said Green, "pitched horsecrap. It's that simple."
The world will little remember nor long note the two starting pitchers, Lerch and Rick Rhoden.
Lerch carried on a personal tradition by allowing two runs in the first. He has been scored upon in the first in 11 of 18 starts and in three in a row. His line in the first for the year is (hang on): 18 starts, 22 runs, 31 hits, 12 walks, 9.50 ERA.
But he also was scored upon in the second (one run) and third (Parker's two-run homer). He ran three-ball counts on five of the 12 hitters he faced. He failed to cover first on a bouncer to Rose. And Green has seen about as much of this as he can bear.
"I'm about up to here with him," the manager said, in a message that seemed awfully familiar. "We've tried everything we know to get him going. I don't know, maybe a trip down to the bullpen will give him some time to think. I just think I have to get a more competitive pitcher out there.
"Who takes his place in the rotation? I haven't gotten that far yet, for the simple reason that if he just gets me a win tonight he's still there. Or if he just pitches decently."
Lerch didn't look so awful compared to some of the other pitching horrors that went on.
The game was tied five times at 0-0, 2-2, 7-7, 9-9 and 11-11. Manny Trillo had a double, triple and his first homer to account for three of the runs. He even moved into the league lead in hitting (.329 to Reggie Smith's .325). But he also failed to get his glove down on a Foli single that gave the Pirates a 10-9 lead in the seventh.
"I'd sacrifice one of his hits for that," Green sighed.
But Rose's bases-loaded single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh put the Phils back on top, 11-10. Rose had 10 RBIs in the five-game home-stand and has 14 this month. And all Ron Reed had to do was hold it.
He was one strike away from a shutout eighth. But home-plate ump Dick Stello called his 3-2 pitch to John Milner ball four. Green griped from the dugout, and Reed stalked around unhappily. Then he promptly threw an RBI single to Ed Ott, and it was 11-11.
"I know when you're in a tough-jam situation and you get a bad call, it really takes the heart out of a pitcher," Green said. "But you've also got to be able to deal with it."
Reed didn't. Which is why Green found himself pining over a game in which his team had gotten 15 hits and scored 11 times.
"Those kinds of games are fun when you win," he said. "But they're sure tough to lose. No question about that."
NOTES: Greg Luzinski will not make the upcoming road trip to Houston, Atlanta and Cincinnati. Luzinski would not be eligible to come off the disabled list until July 23, the final day of the trip, anyway. So the Bull will remain in Philadelphia and take treatments on his inflamed knee.... What could be the statistic of all time is currently being compiled by the Pirates' Matt Alexander. Alexander, Chuck Tanner's designated sprinter, has scored six runs this year. The catch is, he doesn't have an at-bat yet. Playing solely as a pinch runner, Alexander "has helped us win four games," Tanner said. "So I don't care if he never bats." Actually, Tanner said, he is waiting until the Pirates get into the World Series "then I'm going to use him as the DH."... Doug Bird was just called up by the Yankees from Columbus, where he had allowed one earned run in his last 31 innings. Bird told the New York Post that because Dallas Green was a former farm director, he never had any intention of keeping Bird or Bud Harrelson this spring. "He just hacked our throats, and he should have made it clear from the beginning what he was going to do," Bird said. By the time Green cut him, Bird said, nobody had room for him.... Dick Ruthven (7-6) vs. Nolan Ryan (5-6) tonight in Houston.
Parker simply wanted to finish it
By Chuck Newman, Inquirer Staff Writer
Dave Parker, the. Pirates' million-dollar man, says 3-hour, 33-minute games are not good for a man in his condition.
And so, it was not by sheer accident that the Bucs' hit man put an end to what surely was the most bizarre game of the season with a two-run home run in the ninth inning at the Vet last night.
Parker can recite a list of maladies that might help to explain a sub-par (for a man of his means and expectations) .281 battling average going in last night.
He says he is operating with a sore back, a sore shoulder, a bad heel and a bad leg, And he doesn't particularly like playing right field here because of the lighting.
And so he came to the plate against Ron Reed looking for a pitch to smoke. "Something to at least get in the gap," he explained after his second two-run homer of the game and 16th at the Vet, most of any visiting player.
Shortstop Tim Foli, whose most adventuresome evening might defy logical explanation, had led off the inning with his fourth hit of the night.
Parker them lined a high change-up over the right-field fence for the 13-11 Victory that yanked the Pirates to ½ game behind the Phillies.
"You are thinking about doing, something big after that long a game," Parker said, explaining that the pains he suffers are compounded by missing the ball on vicious swings.
Parker's blast and some overzealous baserunning by the Phils' Lonnie Smith in the bottom of the ninth, made a winner of Pittsburgh and a thankful survivor of Foli, who was happy just to be coherent at the finish.
Foli, who had made a critical cutoff and throw to Phil Garner to nail Smith trying to stretch a single into a double, almost wasn't around for the happy ending.
In the sixth inning, he had turned his back on a short fly to left-center by Garry Maddox, been run over by Lacy and then buried by Mike Easier, who was credited with the best body-check of the baseball season. Foli went down under the two-man outfield charge, somehow kept control of the ball, then reactively got up to deliver a late throw to the plate in an attempt to get Pete Rose, who had tagged up on the play.
After the release, Foli slumped to the AstroTurf, Easier stretched out beside him.
"He just smoked me," said Foli of Lacy. "You can't hear anybody call with the crowd that loud. I got hit in the stomach, like a boxer. But the Lord's taking care of me. I haven't been hit by a truck before, but I survived."
And he felt better at that specific moment than manager Chuck Tanner, who raced to the scene of the accident fearing the loss of two of his key players.
The exuberance of the 44,425 spectators, ironically, may have saved the Bucs when Smith tried to stretch his ninth-inning single. Lacy, cutting off Smith's drive to the left-center gap, made a perfectly directioned throw toward second that appeared sure to nail Smith. But Foli cut it off, then got the ball to Garner in time to nail the sliding Smith.
"He (Lacy) threw it right on the money," Foli said. "But I didn't want to take any chances at that point of the game.”
By that point of the game, there was not much opportunity for anything else to happen, anyway. At that juncture, among other things, 35 players had participated; the Pirates had scored in six of the first seven innings and still trailed, and the first three Phillies pitchers came out with earhed-run averages that, if computed over the duration of the game, were 25.00, 18.00 and 9.00, respectively.
And this, embarrassingly, came on the anniversary of the night, some 19 years ago, when the Phillies' Jack Baldschun relieved in his eighth straight game, one short of a National League record, and beat Los Angeles, 7-5.
If he was in attendance, perhaps he could be forgiven for a blank stare and a baffled shake of the head as he rose to go off into the night. His memories of nearly a score of years ago will be better than those who will have to recall what occurred on this long summer evening.