Philadelphia Inquirer - July 26, 1980
Phils end loss streak, split with Braves
Schmidt blasts 2 in opener
By Bill Livingston, Inquirer Staff Writer
Briefly roused from their slumber by the thunder ringing in Mike Schmidt's bat, the Phillies now drowse again.
If there could be one microcosm to the Phillies' season, one bittersweet summing up, it would have been last night's doubleheader split with the Atlanta Braves.
The opener was a 12-inning struggle, won by the grind-it-out baseball that manager Dallas Green has pleaded for; won, 5-4, when Schmidt, who had homered twice and thus snapped his tie with Del Ennis for the Phillies career record, coaxed a bases-loaded walk from reliever Larry Bradford.
Grind-it-out won this 3-hour, 3-minute tangle, in which Dick Ruthven went the entire tortuous way. But stroke-it-out – Schmidt's two blasts, the career-first major league homer for Lonnie Smith – helped the Phils rally from a 4-2 deficit to end the six-game losing streak the Braves had inaugurated last weekend.
Schmidt entered the nightcap on a six-hits-in-seven-at-bats blister. But that was punctured, along with hopes for a fast takeoff on this, the season's longest home stand, when Tommy Boggs, with a plump earned run average of 4.05, scattered seven hits and muzzled the Phillies, 3-0.
Schmidt struck out three times in the second game, drawing boos from the 38,408 fans who, hours earlier, had saluted his five-pitch walk with chair-thumping, howling joy.
Two years ago to the day, Boggs cranked a two-hit shutout against the Phils. Those two shutouts, of course, constitute the sum of his major league total.
Last night, he got all the runs he needed in the fourth inning, when Greg Gross appeared to lose a soft liner by No. 8 hitter Bruce Benedict in the left-field lights.
The Braves had loaded the bases with two out on a laborious combination of Chris Chambliss' leadoff ground-rule double that cleared the grasp of the Phils' fly-paper center-fielder Garry Maddox and skipped over the fence, followed by an intentional walk to Bob Horner and, oops, a two-out walk to Larvell Blanks.
Gross broke in on Benedict's bloop, then froze, fielding it on one Astro-hop off the synthetic turf.
A similar blooper in the ninth, slapped by Brian Asselstine to left, bounded in front of Gross, then bounced into the crowd for a double. After Chambliss advanced the runner with a groundout, luckless Dickie Noles surrendered the final run on Gary Matthews' ground single.
But misfortune was the lot of Phils pitchers this night. Loser Dan Larson (0-4) "did what we have him for," said Green. "He kept us competitive. That's what we want from him on the second game (of a doubleheader) or on the fifth day (of the rotation)."
The opener had been a game played amid exquisite tension, with players wearing gloves gilt with gold.
Ten times Larry Bowa plunged after ground balls, often being chased deep into the hole back of second, and threw runners out. Maddox supplied a running, run ning, l-o-o-n-g distance shoe-top snag of Horner's broken-bat looper in the sixth inning of that game. Bake McBride, on the heels of the Maddox miracle, ran down a Jeff Burroughs fly one step from the right-field foul line on another journey that could have been packaged as a scenic tour.
In the 12th, McBride drove himself after Blanks' leadoff drive and gloved it on the warning track, one step before going bump in the gathering night against the wall.
Ruthven (9-7) allowed just one hit over the last seven innings of his longest journey into night. He once retired 10 straight Braves.
And the Phils, staked to a 2-0 lead by Schmidt's dead-center smash in the first, had scuffled back from a 4-2 deficit, massaging starter Larry McWilliams for seven hits, three of them homers, in just 3 innings. Schmidt and Smith evened it with one swing apiece in the home half of the third after the Braves had taken the lead.
Here the incredible Horner, 38 percent of whose hits leave ballparks, had provided the big blow, with a two-run, two-out homer.
It was his 14th of the month, one short of the major league record, and, with his eighth straight RBI game, it tied a Braves' club record.
But Horner only got his chance to when Matthews slapped a two-out, 0-2 single that scored Glenn Hubbard.
But hunting and pecking for unexpected offense would eventually pay dividends for the Phils in the opener. Schmidt, after doubling high off the left-center field wall in the fifth, got his seventh game-winning RBI in the 12th, after Bob Boone, hitting in the low .220s, singled to open the inning.
Gross, pinch-hitting at last for Ruthven, sacrificed pinch-runner Randy Lerch to second against loser Rick Camp. Smith then singled sharply to right, Lerch holding at third, and Pete Rose was walked intentionally.
Bradford, brought in to face the lefthanded McBride, went to 3-2 and then fanned him. But Schmidt's walk kept intact his perfect 4-for-4 game.
In the nightcap, the Phils' last gasp came with two out in the ninth when Blanks, playing third base, fielded Maddox' sharp grounder with his foot.
Down three runs, Maddox barreled toward second as the ball caromed into center. And Dale Murphy erased him – and whatever thrust had gathered two hours earlier – with a simple peg to second.
NOTES: Green said he doesn't expect Greg Luzinski back in the lineup anytime soon. "His knee swelled up after today's (Friday's) workout," said Green. As for that clear-the-air chat that's been proposed between himself and the Bull, Green said, "I'm not supposed to talk to him. He's gonna talk to me, isn't that the deal?"
Phils' Walk faces Braves
It will be the Phillies" Bob Walk facing the Braves' Rick Matula when the two teams meet at Veterans Stadium tonight, starting at 7:05.
Walk, who had won six straight games before losing to the Braves, 3-2, Sunday in Atlanta, will be out for revenge. His mound opponent's record is 6-8, and with any kind of support from his teammates, Walk hopes to make that read 6-9.
Cincinnati at New York; backup game is Boston at Minnesota (TV-Ch. 3,2:15 p.m.)
PHILLIES vs. Atlanta at Veterans Stadium, 7:05 p.m. (Radlo-KYW-1060)