Wilmington Morning News - July 21, 1980
Phillies drop third straight
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
ATLANTA – Bob Walk never figured he'd win every game he pitched in the big leagues, but he never thought his first loss would come against the Atlanta Braves, who nobody confuses with the National League champions nowadays.
But the Braves beat Walk and the Phillies 3-2 last night in Atlanta Stadium, snapping Walk's six-game unbeaten streak and handing the Phils their third loss in two nights.
"You gotta lose sometime – you can't win every game," walk shrugged. "It's not personally disheartening for me to lose, but I don't want to lose because of the race for first place. I want to get to the World Series and I hate to lose when the race is so close."
The Phillies are doing their bit to put some distance between them and the front-runners. They're now 2½ games back.
Walk struck out seven, but allowed eight hits in six innings. But for some haphazard fielding by left fielder Lonnie Smith, Walk might've escaped without the two first-inning runs Atlanta put on the board.
On the other hand, without some fleet footwork by center fielder Garry Maddox, the Braves might've quadrupled the lone run they got in the fifth while whacking the ball all over the lot.
"The Braves hit the ball a lot harder than the other clubs did," Walk said. "They hit a lot of line drives. Even the outs were hit hard. I didn't think it was going to be my night the way things were going early."
The Phillies, who are in a dreadful team-wide batting slump, didn't exactly torment winner Larry McWilliams, managing just one baserunner with less than two out.
And that was Bake McBride, who quickly was forced at second by Mike Schmidt... for the second out in the eighth. But the Phils managed their second run of the game when Manny Trillo doubled home Schmidt.
But that was it.
"McWilliams is a tough guy to hit," said Manager Dallas Green. "He's a breaking ball pitcher and we didn't get many fastballs to hit."
Lonnie Smith gift-wrapped a pair of first-inning Atlanta runs when he misplayed Gary Matthews' high fly into a run-scoring single.
Smith broke back, then started in on Matthews' two-out fly, then turned on the afterburners after realizing he wouldn't reach it. Smith dove for the ball but it fell for a hit.
When Garry Maddox compounded matters by throwing to second base, Jerry Royster, the "double-bunt” hero of Saturday night's double-header sweep, who had walked to open the inning, raced home with the first run.
"Lonnie broke back on the ball or maybe he didn't see it," said Green. "A lot of people were having trouble with fly balls tonight."
Bob Horner, who had homered in the first three games against the Phils and has hit 12 in his last 21, waited out a walk before Jeff Burroughs singled to center, scoring Matthews.
"I pitched around Horner," said Walk. "I wasn't going to let him beat me."
The Phils got a run back in the second when Trillo, Larry Bowa and Bob Boone bunched singles with two out.
Trillo was making his first appearance in five games since jamming the middle finger of his left hand sliding in Houston.
"The hand feels okay," said Trillo. "It doesn't bother me when I swing the bat."
Green had feared rushing Trillo back into the lineup might cost him the batting stroke that had Manny leading the league when he was injured.
Atlanta added another run in the fifth and, but for Maddox' blanket coverage of center field, could have added a handful more.
Dale Murphy laced a ball over third that the hustling Smith tracked down in the corner and rifled to second, holding Murphy to a single.
Chris Chambliss crashed a single to left and Walk was in trouble again.
Then Maddox went into his greyhound act. First he flagged down Matthews' liner to right center, turning an easy double into the first out as Murphy lumbered to third.
Horner promptly tested Maddox's speed to his right, ripping a gapper to left center that Maddox turned into a sacrifice fly for the second out.
Burroughs kept the inning alive with a single to center that even Maddox couldn't reach, but Walk got out of further trouble when ex-Phil Bill Naharodny flied to right.
The Phils got their second run in the eighth, with two out, naturally, as Trillo doubled home Mike Schmidt.
"This is not the end of the world," Green told the doomsayers. "We'll come back. Sure, this is frustrating, miserable, you name it. But we'll come back.
"This is worse than losing that doubleheader. This is the kind of game we have to grind out and win."
The Phils will try to change their luck tonight in Cincinnati where Green will reluctantly use Randy Lerch vs. the Reds' Mike LaCoss.
"I didn't have much choice," said Green, who'd banished Lerch to the bullpen for the second time this season. "I want to give Steve Carlton an extra day's rest and I needed a pitcher."
Another terrific vote of confidence for Lerch.
EXTRA INNINGS - In his last five starts before last night, Walk was 4-0 with 19 strikeouts and a 1.58 ERA... Despite a fast start against left-handers, Phils are now 11-8 vs. lefties... Phils are 3-4 on the road trip... Maddox's 12-game hitting streak, which tied McBride's club-high earlier this season, was snapped by McWil-liams, but McBride has hit in 10 straight.