Camden Courier-Post - July 20, 1980
Braves sting Phils with double defeat
By Ray Finocchiaro, Gannett News Service
ATLANTA – Dick Ruthven was nominated to pitch the twilight part of the Phillies' doubleheader with the Braves, but he was in anything but a light mood when the Braves beat him 5-2-last night.
The Phils' night got bleaker, too, as the Braves used a six-run sixth inning to win the nightcap, 7-2.
"The hitters certainly weren't hitting like it was hard to see," said Ruthven, scotching one of baseball's pet theories before the sun could set.
The Braves' weren't having trouble hitting in twilight's last gleaming, collecting eight hits off Ruthven in six innings and three more off relievers Warren Brusstar and Tug McGraw.
The Phillies' bats, meanwhile, were good for just five hits off winner Doyle Alexander, including three in the seventh.
"I haven't talked to Bob Boone," said Ruthven between games, "so I don't know what I had on the ball. But I know what the hitters were telling me and that's that they were getting hits."
Ruthven, who started the road trip with a 3-2 loss to Houston on a balk and throwing error in the ninth inning, found last night's loss particularly galling.
The righthander hates to lose anywhere, but particularly in Atlanta, where he spent 2½ unmemorable seasons between Phillies' stints. Ruthven left town cursing owner Ted Turner, and it was apparent he hasn't forgotten it.
"The worst part about this was that it had to happen here," said Ruthven. "I hate to get beat by them anywhere, but I definitely don't like to get beat here."
Though the Phillies were anything but sharp on the field, Ruthven had no one to blame but himself. A pair of home runs, something Ruthven had shelved for 85⅓ innings; proved his undoing in the Braves' four-run sixth inning.
The teams traded fourth-inning runs. The Phillies got their's on Alexander's wild pickoff throw to first after Pete Rose's walk and Bake McBride's single to right.
Atlanta tied it with an unearned run on Mike Lum's single after Larry Bowa's two-out error. Then came the Braves' sixth, the inning Ruthven – and Manager Dallas Green – would like to forget.
Brian Asselstine, who scored the first Braves' run, picked on an 0-2 pitch and drilled it to right for a single, then moved; to second when McBride booted the ball for an error.
"You can rationalize it all you want," said Green, "but anytime a guy hits an 0-2 pitch, it wasn't a good pitch, no matter where it was."
Ruthven wasn't about to disagree.
"I got the ball where I wanted to throw it," he said. "Sure, he hit it, but it wasn't a good pitch. It was a ball, low."
Chris Chambliss promptly singled Asselstine home for the go-ahead run, which brought up Garry Matthews – and ended Ruthven's no-homer string.
Ruthven ran the count to 2-1, then put the next pitch "right where we wanted it. But he hit it good enough to get it out. From the way the balls were flying early, I knew it wasn't going to take a helluva lot to get it out."
Left fielder Lonnie Smith made a valiant effort to reach over the fence for Matthews' homer, but the ball eluded his grasp and it was 4-1.
Bob Horner, currently on a home run tear that has seen him hit 12 in 20 games, made sure it wasn't another 85.1 innings between homers. Homer made it exactly zero innings between shots, hitting a 3-2 pitch to the lower deck in left. He added another homer in the second game.
"That pitch was down the chute," Ruthven said, shaking his head. "The mistake was going 3-1 on him in the first place."
Which nobody argued.
"We gave up two runs on errors, but that didn't beat us," said Green. "We didn't run the bases too well, which cost us some possibilities. Give Alexander credit – he pitched a good ball game. That's as hard as I've seen him throw in a while."
The Phils got their final run in the seventh, but blew a chance for more. Garry Maddox opened with a double and was singled to third by Bob Boone, who was promptly tagged out taking a wide turn at first.
Bowa singled Maddox home but Ramon Aviles' double-play grounder ended the threat.
Neither Brusstar nor McGraw, making his first appearance since coming off the disabled list, dazzled anybody in the final two innings, both having to work out of jams.
Green just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Bra threw some pitches that were good and some that weren't. He and Tug got their feet wet. Maybe some things were accomplished after all.”
Dick Ruthven was not inclined to agree.
The Braves took the lead in the second game with six runs in the sixth inning. They tied the score at two when Jerry Royster's sacrifice was thrown wild by catcher Keith Moreland.
Dickie Noles relieved Larson with no outs and got a quick out on a grounder to Mike Schmidt, holding Royster at third. But Matthews' liner scored Royster, handing the Braves a 3-2 edge. After an intentional walk to Chambliss and a fielder's choice to Horner, Jeff Burroughs singled Chambliss home, and Bill Nahorodny banged a double deep on the center field wall, scoring two more Braves. Larvell Blanks singled home Nahorodny before Ron Reed came in to close the inning.
The Braves got their first run in the fifth inning when Horner led off with his 16th home run to left.
Smith and McBride accounted for both Phillies' runs. The Phils took a 1-0 lead in the third after Smith was safe on Blanks' error. He stole second, then moved to third on Rose's grounder to first base. McBride rolled a grounder to third, scoring Smith.
Smith singled to lead off the fifth inning, and once again stole second. Rose bunted him to third base, before McBride lofted a sacrifice fly to right field.
EXTRA INNINGS – Ruthven had a 2-1 record and 1.59 ERA in his last four starts before last night... Manny Trillo (jammed finger) was available to play but Green wasn't rushing the league's leading hitter back into action. "I don't want him to do anything with that batting stroke," said the manager. "We rushed him back before and it hurt him."... Batting coach Billy DeMars will return to Philadelphia today to work with Greg Luzinski, who is due off the disabled list this week... Bob Walk vs. the Braves' Larry McWiliams tonight at 7:05 (Channel 17) before Phils fly to Cincinnati for three games.