Wilmington News Journal - June 28, 1980

Mets sting Carlton with another loss


By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent


PHILADELPHIA - Steve Carlton has lost three games this season. Two of them somehow have come against the New York Mets.


"The Mets, for some reason, historically have handled Steve pretty well," said Phils' Manager Dallas Green, who is starting to worry about the Phils' batting woes after last night's 3-2 loss to Met rookie John Pacella, who picked up his first Major League victory.


"I don't know what it is," Green added. "Steve wasn't as sharp tonight. His ball was up a little more. It was just a strange night all around."


No less strange than the 3-0 game Carlton lost to the Mets' Ray Burris on April 21, but last night's loss snapped Carlton's eight-game winning string and left him 13-3.


That it left him speechless is nothing new, but Carlton did salute the fans who cheered his passing of Robin Roberts to become the club's all-time strikeout leader.


After the game, Green tried to shake off the word "slump" – though the Phils have lost six of their last eight games and have scored a total of four runs in their last three.


"I'd like to think this isn't a slump," said Green, "but it's not encouraging. Offensively, we've slipped into a sleeping time. We didn't hit much in the Montreal games, or in California. I guess we're due offensively.


"That's why I've been playing more hit-and-run lately, to get the guys to think about playing baseball. If we forget about swinging the bats, we lull ourselves to sleep."


Until Bob Boone hit a two-run homer off Pacella in the seventh, the Phils were in a deep sleep. And that's worrying Green.


"We might be slipping back to the 'Don't worry, gang, the old talent will take over' thing," he said. "We have to have a little talk about that. The 'old talent' is catching up quick."


To counter the snoozing swingers, Green's been flashing the hit-and-run more than usual. Last night it blew up in the Phils' faces in the ninth inning.


After Garry Maddox reached base on Frank Taveras' error, Green put on the hit and run. Boone whacked a chopper over second but shortstop Taveras, covering the bag with Maddox running, was in perfect position to start a double play.


"One of those things," Boone shrugged. "You go through those periods when it's tough scoring runs."


Green wasn't as cool. "Every time we tried something tonight, something went haywire," he said, shaking his head.


Carlton and Pacella matched goose eggs through the first five innings. Carlton's six strikeouts had a little more significance, of course, as Lefty seemed to topple a milestone as each Met went down.


In the first inning, Carlton tied, then passed, Cy Young for ninth place on the all-time strikeout list with 2,820.


In the fifth, Carlton fanned Elliott Maddox to pass Roberts with 1,872 strikeouts.


The characteristically cool Carlton actually doffed his cap to the crowd of 37,123 that began to stand and applaud as word of Carlton's feat was flashed on the scoreboard.


Carlton rolled the souvenir ball toward the dugout, then took a few tenuous steps around the mound, nodding in the direction of the various bleachers where the fans stood and cheered.


The Mets' sixth was no picnic, however.


Mazzilli, hitless in seven trips against Carlton this season, led off with a flare that dropped in front of right fielder Bake McBride, then bounced past him. McBride pulled up and stopped running.


By the time second baseman Manny Trillo tracked the ball down in the right field corner and fired home, Mazzilli had circled the bases for an inside-the-park homer.


What probably could have been ruled a single and three-base error on McBride ended a string of 72 innings since Carlton had last allowed a home run. That one was hit by Johnny Bench here on May 19 – and left the park.


"I thought I had it," said McBride, "but it hit that bleeping turf and just skidded away. Nothing you can do about it."


Green wouldn't fault McBride.


"He was coming like hell," Green said. "You just can't run hard and stop on AstroTurf. He thought he could catch it."


Carlton's problems weren't over, however. Singles by Taveras, John Stearns and Joel Youngblood – his third single of the game – produced the Mets' second run and Alex Trevino's towering sacrifice fly to center the winner.


Until they got two runs back on Boone's fifth homer, a seventh-inning shot to the lower deck in left, the Phils looked paralyzed against Pacella, who actually had one more strikeout than Carlton through six innings and allowed just three hits, Trillo's second-inning double, McBride's infield single in the third and Greg Luzinski's double in the fourth.


But Pacella and Carlton didn't survive the seventh. Garry Maddox started it with an infield single and Boone ended it with his homer, through pinch-hitter Greg Gross prolonged the agony – both his and the fans' – when he was hit in the foot by a Pacella pitch.


Reliever Tom Hausman got Del Unser, batting for Carlton, on a fly to the left-field wall before Pete Rose and McBride grounded out to end the threat.


"Steve Henderson's catch on Del's ball turned the game around," shrugged Pete Rose. "We had them on the run."


Maybe a casual stroll but hardly the run.


EXTRA INNINGS - Lefty is almost a month ahead of his 1972 27-win pace (No. 14 on July 23) and almost even with Denny McLain's 31-win season in 1968 when McLain won No. 14 on June 29... Nino Espinosa rejoined the Phils yesterday with a 1-1 record after three starts with their Class A Spartanburg team. Nino allowed two runs and eight hits in seven innings Thursday in a 3-2 victory... Dick Ruthven and Dan Larson will face the Mets' Ray Burris and Mark Bomback in tonight's 5:35 twi-nighter... Dickie Noles vs. Mets' Pat Zachry in tomorrow's 7:05 p.m. fireworks special.