Wilmington Morning News - July 22, 1980

Reds hand Phillies 4th straight loss


By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent


CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati area needed rain to break the string of scorchers in the 100-degree temperature range. And the Phillies hoped rain might dampen the Reds' seventh-inning rally last night.


It didn't help. The Reds sandwiched a pair of runs around a 56-minute rain delay that had moments reminiscent of a South Pacific typhoon, beating the Phillies 5-4 before 27,177 soggy fans at Riverfront Stadium.


Johnny Bench knocked in the go-ahead run against loser Randy Lerch (3-12) before the rains returned. Once the tarps were hauled off, Dan Driessen poked in the eventual game-winner against reliever Kevin Saucier, who's supposed to be virtually unhittable against left-handers.


"Danny was lucky on that hit," said Reds' Manager John McNa-mara. "He fought it off his hands and just dumped it out there.


"It's funny. Driessen dumps the ball off his hands and gets a hit and (Greg) Gross hits the ball hard and it's right at the second baseman (to end the game). That's the breaks of the game."


Funny, but the Phils weren't laughing about the irony of it all.


"Little did you figure that Dan Driessen's little bloop single would be the game-winner,” said Manager Dallas Green. "That's why you can't EVER give up extra runs."


The Phils' fourth-straight loss left them three games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were idle yesterday, and Montreal, which hammered Atlanta.


The Phillies did make a last-ditch attempt to tie the game in the ninth as Larry Bowa tripled with one out and pinch-hitter Bake McBride doubled him home.


But Tom Hume, who notched his 15th save in relief of winner Charlie Leibrandt, got Pete Rose on a soft fly to left before Gross' liner ended the game.


The Reds took a 1-0 lead off Lerch in the first inning which, for Lerch, was something of a moral victory... holding the Reds to one run, that is.


Lerch and the first inning have not been the best of friends all season. In 19 starts, Lerch has allowed 23 runs (19 earned) in the first inning alone, good for a 9.00 ERA.


Opposing batters have rapped Lerch for 32 first-inning hits, including five homers. Thirteen others have walked.


So when Lerch emerged down just 1-0 on Dave Concepcion's double, a wild pitch and George Foster's sacrifice fly to right, everyone drew a thankful breath.


"The first hasn't been Randy's inning this year," said Green. "But he stayed tough with Foster and Bench. It could have been a lot worse."


Cincinnati made it 2-0 in the third and that, too, could have been worse. Dave Collins led off with a walk and Concepcion singled to right.


Ken Griffey, whose ninth-inning homer had beaten the Mets on Sunday, bunted down the third-base line. The ball was headed foul, but Mike Schmidt played it anyway and appeared to throw out the fleet Griffey at first – at least the instant replay looked that way.


But first base umpire Satch Davidson called Griffey safe, loading the bases with nobody out and Foster heading toward the plate.


In normal times, that was tantamount to disaster. But Lerch bore down and got Foster on a shallow fly to right for the first out. Bench rapped a single to left, scoring Collins, but Schmidt took Gross' throw and nailed Concepcion at the plate for the second out. Ray Knight's fly to left ended the inning with minimal damage.


The Phils tied the game in the fourth when Mike LaCoss walked Schmidt and Keith Moreland drilled a fastball over the wall in left-center for his fourth homer.


"I got all of that one and it felt good," said Moreland, "but we still came up one run short and that's all that really matters."


The Phils took the lead for the first time all night in the sixth with a two-out rally.


Garry Maddox, whose 12-game hitting streak was snapped in Atlanta Sunday night, singled to right and went to second when LaCoss tried a pickoff and threw the ball in the stands instead.


After Manny Trillo walked, Larry Bowa punched the ball over Concepcion's glove into shallow left and Maddox beat Foster's throw to the plate. Lerch ended the inning with a 370-foot drive to the wall in the right-center.


But the lead didn't last long. Knight singled with one out in the bottom of the sixth and Driessen walked. Junior Kennedy, hitting .320 in limited appearances, drilled a double to left, scoring Knight with the tying run.


As Hector Cruz came up to bat for LaCoss, the rains suddenly appeared – and disappeared almost as quickly. After a 14-minute rain relay, Cruz struck out and Dave Collins popped out to end the inning.


But Bench doubled home Griffey, who had doubled with one out, to put the Reds ahead 4-3 as the rains returned. Lerch angrily walked off the mound, in no hurry to reach the shelter of the dugout.


'I told him to pitch to Bench," said Green. "Who you gonna pitch to – Knight? You got your choice."


Last night the Phillies chose wrong.