Wilmington Morning News - June 27, 1980

Expos’ buzzsaw splinters Phillies’ bats


By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent


PHILADELPHIA – You know it’s been that kind of season for Randy Lerch when the Phillies’ lefthander pitches a four-hitter, allows one run… and loses.


It just so happened that Montreal’s Scott Sanderson pitched a two-hitter and allowed no runs last night at Veterans Stadium, giving the Expos a 1-0 victory in the nail-biting rubber game of the three-game set.


It also put the Expos 2½ games ahead of the Phils in the N.L. East with this series set to resume in Montreal Monday night.


As for Lerch, who's been the victim in three of the five games in which the Phils have been shut out this season, the lefty shrugged his shoulders and said:


"After a while, it doesn't bother you as much. You know you're giving it your best. I feel good about the way I pitched tonight, though not about my record."


Which is 2-10.


Sanderson, meanwhile, is 7-4 after taking part in his fourth shutout of the season. He blanked the Cubs himself, then combined with Woodie Fryman to blank Houston twice.


Montreal got the game's only run when Chris Speier kicked the ball away from catcher Bob Boone and scored on Andre Dawson's opposite-field single to right in the fifth inning.


"I got him right on the foot," said Boone of his sweep tag, "but the ball hit his shoe and bounced away."


The Phils' only hits were Pete Rose's single to open the game and Manny Trillo's eighth-inning single. Sanderson faced just 29 batters. The Phils' only other baserunners were eliminated in a double play and Mike Schmidt's unsuccessful attempt to steal home in the seventh.


That attempted theft was the night's dramatic highlight.


Schmidt walked with one out and had to race back to first when Del Unser's towering drive died at the right-field wall for the second out.


Schmidt decided to steal a page from the Expos' running manual and stole second. When catcher Gary Carter's throw glanced off his back and caromed into shallow center, Schmidt got up and raced to third.


Then, on a 1-1 pitch to Manny Trillo, Schmidt broke for the plate.


Instead of getting flustered and rushing his throw, which usually results in either a wild pitch or a balk call, Sanderson calmly delivered a belt high fastball that brushed Trillo off the plate and enabled Carter to make the tag on Schmidt.


It was a close play, regardless, with Schmidt feeling he got a foot on the plate before Carter made the tag. But umpire Dutch Rennert didn't hesitate with his "out" call.


"He could've called me safe," said Schmidt. "I thought I got the front of the plate with my foot. The replay showed I might have been out. But you've got to try something when it's 1-0 and the guy's throwing a one-hitter."


Sanderson's sentiments exactly.


"I was surprised they tried it in a 1-0 game," said the pitcher. "But you have to do something. I guess."


As for the steal, Sanderson said he saw it coming.


"A lot of runners try to fake stealing home, trying to make the pitcher balk," Sanderson said. "But I knew he was going after the second or third step. I kept the same easy, smooth motion and threw a fastball up and in to get Trillo out of the way. Gary was able to make the tag.


"The important thing is not to alter your motion. Sometimes just speeding up your motion makes it look like a balk. I took a little extra time, in fact."


Time enough to get Schmidt, who called it a "once in a lifetime" play and felt the odds were in his behalf.


"If he throws it in the dirt, I'm safe," Schmidt said. "If he throws a curve, I'm safe. If he throws it high, I'm safe. All he can do to get me is throw it down and in, and that's what he did."


Phils' Manager Dallas Green, trying to take any heat off Schmidt for the gamble, said HE ordered the play. But Schmidt said he decided on his own and merely informed third-base coach Lee Elia that he was going.


"I'm sure he'd like to come up with a win after pitching that intensely," Green said. "This was a good game for him, intensity-wise and everything else. I hope he got something from it. I got something from it. Randy made good pitches all night."


Even Lerch found it hard to be dejected.


"There's a long way to go and anything can happen," he said. "I'm not gonna give up on myself or the team. We just ran into a buzzsaw tonight."


The buzzsaw also cut down shortstop Larry Bowa in the first inning. Bowa, who'd aggravated his right hamstring Wednesday night, strained it tracking down Dawson's first-inning single and left the game. He will be out for about a week.


EXTRA INNINGS - Pitcher Dickie Noles began a three-day suspension yesterday after dropping his appeal to Charles Feeney, the National League president.


"I was upset when I heard about the suspension," Noles said. "But after talking to several people the last two days, I decided to drop the appeal and get the entire thing over with... Expos' string of 17 straight steals against Phils was erased in the ninth when Warren Cromartie was called out at second. Replays showed he was safe... Expos have won 14 straight decisions against left-handers... Steve Carlton goes for his ninth straight victory tonight against the Mets, John Pacella at 8:05... Dan Larson and probably Dick Ruthven will get the starts in tomorrow's 5:35 p.m. twi-nighter vs. Mets' Ray Burris and Mark Bomback.