Wilmington News Journal - June 22, 1980

Pitching leaves Phils in the Lerch again


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


SAN FRANCISCO – The Randy Lerch melodrama lingers on.


Just when the Phillies were encouraged that Lerch had found himself, the dark side of his pitching personality came forward again. And it is that side of the left-hander which is driving Manager Dallas Green batty.


Lerch, after a superb 10-inning, no-decision performance in Dodger Stadium on Monday night, reverted to his 1980 form in windy Candlestick Park yesterday and was the loser as the Phillies got bombed by San Francisco 9-3.


Lerch, after getting two quick outs in a 2-2 struggle in the bottom of the fifth, gave up four consecutive hits and the Giants stalked off the field with a 5-2 lead for Ed Whitson that was never to be threatened.


Jim Wohlford's single to right scored the torrid-hitting Jack Clark from third to snap the tie, then Joe Strain ripped a double to right that brought home two more runs.


The Giants, who have won four straight and four of five from the Phillies, added four more runs in the eighth off over-worked reliever Ron Reed – again with two out.


The setback was the third in a row for the Phillies, who send 12-game winner Steve Carlton against Vida Blue (9-3) today in the wrapup of this seven-game trek through California.


Whitson, who has won three games in a row including two from the Phils, went the distance, improving his record to 5-7 with a seven-hitter.


Green sat in the visiting manager's office in the catacombs of Candlestick Park for a good five minutes before speaking. And before he uttered his first word to reporters, he shook his head several times.


"When there's two men out and a club scores three runs against you, you're not thinking about pitching," said Green. "I sure would like Randy to get straightened out, to get it going. We really need help in that area (pitching)."


Lerch has a 2-9 record with a 4.81 earned run average.


Green has been openly critical of Lerch's pitching, or better yet, his approach to each game. Against the Dodgers, the manager said he thought Randy was more aggressive, that he challenged the batters better than he has all season.


Yesterday, the first two runs were put on base via walks and then in the fifth, Lerch appeared to lose concentration.


"Certainly some of the hits they got off Randy were not bullets, said Green. "They got an infield hopper that nobody could handle, but you've got to pitch out of those situations; you've got to give it to us then.


"The last time when he got in a jam it looked like he had more 'umph' and enthusiasm to go after hitters. That's the thing that good pitchers are able to maintain. You don't just do it once because in this game you are going to be in a lot of jams and you better be able to pitch out of some of them. It has to happen between the white lines."


Lerch, although he admitted he was unhappy with his performance, claimed that not that many balls were hit hard off him.


"Even Strain's double was not that hard hit," said Lerch. "It got up in the wind and took off. But when you walk or give up hits to the seventh, eighth and ninth-place batters, you should expect to get in trouble."


Green benched Garry Maddox and Greg Luzinski in favor of Del Unser and Greg Gross, and in the early innings it looked like a smart move.


Unser and Gross both singled in the second, with Manny Trillo giving the Phils a 1-0 lead with a single to left with two down.


The Giants, who have a 19-10 record at Candlestick, retaliated in the third. Lerch walked Mike Sadek and the catcher went to second on Whitson's sacrifice. After Bill North grounded out, Sadek raced to third on a Bob Boone passed ball and scored on Darrell Evans' suicide squeeze that caught the Phils napping.


Strain, who had two doubles and a single, walked with one out in the fourth and raced to third on John LeMaster's single. Sadek's sacrifice fly gave the Giants a 2-1 edge.


A walk to Trillo, an infield out, and a wild pitch that bounced all the way to the left of the dugout gave the Phils their second run.


"I've said all along during our f itching problems that we have to eep it close," added Green. "If we dont get buried, our offense will score some runs."


But Lerch buried his teammates in the fifth. He got two quick outs, but Clark's second double of the day, Rich Murray's high chopper and Wohlf ield's single out of the reach of Pete Rose made it 3-2. Strain then blasted a double to left and the Giants were up to stay.


"We've tried everything we know to wake Randy up," said Green. "Sometimes I think he goes out there and tries to be too cool. A lot of guys in baseball have not had the opportunities he has had to continually go out on the mound. He's on a pitching staff that's not real sound right now, so he is blessed with the opportunity to go out there even though he's not pitching well. He's got to take advantage of this. When the pitching staff gets well, you can't keep running a man out there who keeps making mistakes."


EXTRA POINTS - Rose doubled home pinch-hitter Lonnie Smith with the Phils' third run in the ninth... Dick Ruthven, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, may not be able to start Tuesday night. He threw some on Friday night and had some discomfort... If Ruthven does not start and if Dickie Noles is not suspended for his bat-throwing incident in Los Angeles Tuesday night, Noles will be the starter... The report on Warren Brusstar's pitching Friday night for Peninsula was not good... Brusstar faced just four batters, giving up three singles and a walk... "He had stiffness warming up and never got loose," said Green... Maddox and Luzinski didn't take batting practice... Reed, who allowed four earned runs and four hits in two innings, had allowed only four earned runs in his previous 17 outings.