Wilmington Evening Journal - July 2, 1980

Phils' Lerch justifies Green's confidence


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


MONTREAL – Randy Lerch is an enigma.


Any resemblance between the Phillies' pitcher who threw 10 splendid innings against Montreal last night and the Randy Lerch we've seen most of the season is purely coincidental.


Randy Lerch has apparently shaken himself, picked up the pieces and put his season back together.


Lerch won his first game since June 7 In Olympic Stadium last night as the Phillies moved within a game of the first-place Expos in National League East with a stirring 5-4, 11th-inning victory.


Manager Dallas Green, who before the game announced that reliever Tug McGraw is the latest Phillies' pitcher to go on the shelf, more or less gave the game to Lerch to win or lose as early as the ninth inning when it was 4-4.


Green's bullpen, you see, has been so busy the last two weeks that if he had gone to it early last night, somebody's arm might have fallen off.


So, it was up to Lerch. Green made that clear in the ninth when he let the pitcher bat against Montreal reliever Elias Sosa.


"I was shocked," said Lerch, who had let a 4-3 Phils' lead disintegrate when the Expos scored in the eighth. "I thought sure he would go for a pinch hitter there with me leading off, but the bullpen has been used so much I guess he had no other choice."


Green has proved to be a wizard at handling his young players. In reality, he probably did want to stay away from the relief corps, but he definitely recharged Lerch's confidence with that decision last night.


"Randy Lerch is not the worst hitter in the world," said Green. "Besides, he had only thrown 108 pitches at that point."


Lerch one-two-threed the Expos in the 10th and after Pete Rose's clutch single in the 11th produced two Philadelphia runs off reliever Woodie Fryman, Lerrin LeGrow was sent out to save it for the lefthander. LeGrow gave up a leadoff homer to Warren Cromartie, then worked out of trouble for his third save of the year.


Lerch is the first left-hander to defeat the Expos since April 27, a span of 14 decisions. Last week at veterans Stadium he pitched nine strong innings, but lost 1-0. And on June 16, he went 10 innings against the Dodgers and was not involved in the decision.


Lerch's only bad game in his last . four starts was at San Francisco on June 21. He gave up five runs on eight hits in just six innings and lost 9-3.


"He's given me three out of four good starts," said Green. "That's what we have been looking for. I would have to say he's turned it around."


"It's a matter of trying to be a little bit more aggressive," said Lerch, who was 2-10 with a 4.45 earned run average before the game. "I'm trying to use my brain and my physical ability. I'm trying to forget about the record. Tonight I tried to fool myself. I approached this like I had an 0-0 record.


"I have been going out to the mound thinking my back was against the wall. Tonight when they took the 2-0 lead and we had all the hits, I was a little depressed. But I felt all along if we got Scott Sanderson out of there, we would score some runs and that's what we did."


Andre Dawson's first-inning homer and an unearned fun in the third had given the Expos their 2-0 lead.


Singles by Lerch, Rose, Manny Trillo, Mike Schmidt and Garry Maddox produced two runs in the fifth and sent Sanderson to the clubhouse. Had Rose not been cut down at the plate trying to score from second on Schmidt's bases-loaded single, the Phils might have taken the lead right there. When the inning ended, the Phillies were outhitting the Expos 12-3.


"We were lucky to be tied after five," said Montreal Manager Dick Williams. "Lerch pitched an excellent game; he threw mostly fastballs. When we did get some chances, we did not capitalize on them."


Keith Moreland, whose eighth-inning homer had given the Phils a 4-3 edge, opened the 11th with a single to right and speedster Lonnie Smith was sent in to run. Greg Gross, ordered to bunt, fouled off the first two pitches, then forced Smith at second.


Ramon Aviles, playing shortstop for the injured Larry Bowa, filed out to deep left. Bob Boone, who has been in a dreadful slump (6 for his last 44 at-bats) was called on to bat for Lerch and singled to left.


That brought up Peter Edward Rose, who had been having an uncommon night. He already had three singles, but his throwing error in the third had allowed Ron LeFlore to go to third base, where he scored on Rodney Scott's sacrifice fly. And in the fifth, he was an easy out when he attempted to score.


But just before Rose batted in the 11th, the suddenly cocky and aggressive Lerch promised Pete he would get a hit.


Rose singled to left and Gross tore around third, scoring ahead of LeFlore's throw. The throw took catcher Gary Carter to the first-base side of the plate as Boone kept going to third and Rose to second. Carter threw to third, but Larry Parrish let the ball get away and . Boone scored on the error.


"I messed up," said Parrish. "When I saw Gary was going to make a throw, I looked toward second. I didn't think there was a play at third. The ball hit my glove and got away."


"Funny game," said Rose. "I had an error and got thrown out at the plate, yet ended up on the Star of the Game Show."


EXTRA POINTS - The Phillies have a chance to move into a first-place tie with the Expos tonight when Steve Carlton (13-3) goes against Steve Rogers (9-6), the Expos' top winner who has a 3.64 earned run average. The weather could be a problem in completing the series. It rained heavily here this morning and more of the same was forecast... McGraw is on the 21-day disabled list, effective June 26. His aching shoulder, diagnosed as tendonitis, did not respond to medication as had been hoped. Green said rather than take a chance and let McGraw pitch, he put him on the shelf... Nino Espinosa, who has not pitched since last September, has been reactivated and probably will start Friday afternoon in St. Louis... The Phils leave immediately after tonight's game for St. Louis, where they will play five games in four days.