Wilmington Morning News - July 29, 1980

Hits scarce as Phils lose to Houston


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA  And on the next day the skies cleared and the firestorm of hits and runs passed.


After exploding for a Veterans Stadium record 17 runs and 21 hits Sunday, the Phillies went quietly last night. Cesar Cedeno tripled home the winning run in the 10th inning off reliever Ron Reed to give Houston a 3-2 conquest of the Phillies, who managed just five hits and six baserunners on the warm night.


For the Phils, the frustration started early when rookie righthander Gordy Pladson, who entered the game with an 0-2 record and a 6.00 earned run average, handled them like Nolan Ryan or J. R. Richard.


And how many times has history seen an unknown pitcher stalk to the mound and look like Grover Cleveland Alexander against the Phils?


But even with their lack of hits – they managed just four hits and five baserunners through nine innings – they were still in the game until Cedeno rifled his triple to the right-field corner with two out and Jose Cruz on first base.


The Phils, now 3-2 on this crucial 13-game homestand, made the most of three Houston blunders to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning.


Houston, however, tied the game in the seventh when pinch-hitter Art Howe singled home Alan Ashby from third. Howe was the first batter to face reliever Tug McGraw, who had taken over for starter Nino Espinosa.


Pladson, recently recalled from Tucson, worked eight innings, allowing just four hits before he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the ninth inning.


Joe Sambito snuffed the Phils in the last two innings, to run his record to 6-1.


"They blooped a couple of hits and got some runs. We played like hell and didn't get much," said Phils' Manager Dallas Green. "Frankly, I thought we played a very good baseball game tonight. We just lost."


When asked about a virtually unknown pitcher shutting down the Phils, Green seemed disturbed by the question.


"He (Pladson) beat us; you have to be impressed with him," said the manager. "He had some pretty good credentials in the minors. Tonight, he had an outstanding slider. He used that with his fastball. He threw a curve in the beginning, but didn't show that after the second inning.


"It's always difficult to face a new pitcher. The hitters just don't feel comfortable because they don't know what to expect. You have to give him the credit, though."


That the Phils were unable to make more of Houston's three glaring mistakes didn't bother Green. Instead, he said he was happy they got what they did.


"If we hadn't taken advantage, I'd be upset," he said. "The Astros are very successful in these close games. They throw some good pitching at you, use their contact hitters and run the bases. They win a lot of close games."


Craig Reynolds' triple, a walk to Joe Morgan and Cruz' single just out of the reach of second baseman Manny Trillo gave the Astros a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Espinosa, however, worked out of a bases-loaded jam, retiring the next 11 batters in order.


Meanwhile, the Phils pulled even in the fourth when Pete Rose walked and Bake McBride lofted a fly ball to right-center that fell between center fielder Cedeno and right fielder Dave Bergman.


"I'll take all the blame for that," said Cedeno. "I should have caught the ball, but usually the right fielder takes that one. He (Bergman) has not been out there much, so he didn't know. He thought I was going to catch it and I thought he was going to take it."


With runners on second and third, Mike Schmidt fouled out to the first baseman and the run scored when Garry Maddox grounded out.


In the fifth, the Phils brought the 30,181 customers to their feet when Larry Bowa stole home.


Bowa opened the inning with a single, stole second and went to third when Bob Boone flied out to center. On Pladson's first pitch, Espinosa attempted to execute the suicide squeeze, but fouled the pitch off. The next was a pitch out and nothing was on.


But on the 1-1 delivery, Bowa was coming down the line and Espinosa swung and missed. Caught in a rundown, Bowa appeared to be an easy out, but he slid under Pladson's tag at home. Even though he missed the plate, Bowa lunged back and touched it. Umpire Doug Harvey signaled safe.


After retiring 11 in a row, Espinosa walked Ashby to start the seventh. Pladson fanned, but Bergman singled to right, giving the Astros runners on first and third. Green Immediately called on McGraw and Howe followed with his single.


Reed put Houston down in order in the ninth, but with one out in the 10th, Joe Morgan beat out an infield single behind second base. Morgan, however, was cut down by Boone trying to steal second. Cruz walked and Cedeno followed with his triple.


EXTRA POINTS – The Phils have a 4-6 record in extra-inning games and are 16-20 in one-run decisions... The Astros are 21-17 in the same category... McBride has hit in 17 of his last 18 games... The victory was the first for Houston at the Vet after three losses... The series continues tonight with Joaquin Andujar (1-4) facing Randy Lerch (3-12)... Nolan Ryan (5-7) goes against Dick Ruthven (9-6) tomorrow.

Surgery to sideline Luzinski 3 weeks


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA – The news on Greg Luzinski is only half as bad as the Phillies expected.


The Phils feared their slugging left fielder would be sidelined for up to six weeks after yesterday's knee surgery, but the Bull will likely be out just three more weeks.


Luzinski underwent a knee operation yesterday at Methodist Hospital and Dr. Phillip Marone removed "multiple loose cartilagenous bodies and a small portion of the knee cartilage" during the two-hour operation.


Phillies Manager Dallas Green acknowledged that Luzinski's absence will mean more pressure on Mike Schmidt, the National League's leading home-run hitter with 26.


"I hope we'll be able to surround Schmitty with smoking bats so he can play," Green said. "But Garry Maddox (moved up to fifth in the order) is hitting well and we're not afraid to move the lineup around. A couple weeks (without Luzinski) – we can handle that."


Luzinski injured his right knee sliding into second base during a July 5 game in St. Louis.


Luzinski, who had surgery on the same knee in 1974 as the result of a ligament injury, has been on the disabled list since July 8. He had shown improvement but the knee swelled again last Friday after a pregame workout.


Luzinski, who missed the Phillies' recent 10-game road trip, has a .245 batting average with 15 home runs and 42 RBI.


While Luzinski is out, Green will use rookie Lonnie Smith in left field.


"The kid's going to play," said Green of Smith. "I think he's done everything we've asked of him. I think he's capable of playing decent defense – I think he has."