Wilmington Morning News - June 3, 1980
Robinson finishes off Phillies 9-3
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
PITTSBURGH – The Phillies got a few good tips on Pittsburgh righthander Don Robinson for two innings last night.
Then Robinson got wise to the fact that he was tipping off his pitches and muffled the Phils' hot bats the rest of the way.
And the Pirates exploited the Phils' usually top-notch defense en route to a 9-3 victory that featured five unearned runs in one inning.
"They were picking up my pitches," said Robinson of the Phils' six hits in the first two innings – and two the final seven innings. "They laid off a few good curve balls I threw and were right on the fastballs.
"Chuck (manager Tanner) noticed it after the first inning and mentioned it. After the second inning, he said to put the ball in my glove, instead of holding it in my hand, and go from there."
And Robinson went in style, racking up his first complete game in more than a year and convincing himself he may be recovered from off-season shoulder surgery that seemed to be playing tricks with his mind.
"The complete game was the big thing tonight," said Robinson, 2-1. "I needed it for my confidence. I hadn't had one in so long, I wanted to know for myself that I could go nine. I was starting to believe that I was a six-inning pitcher."
Not last night.
"Give Robinson credit for a gutty performance," said Phils' Manager alias Green, who had few bouquets for his own troops. "We had a chance to get him early and through the game, but he hung tough."
And the Phillies' hung themselves with three errors in one inning, including two by Gold Glove third baseman Mike Schmidt.
"This has to rank up there with our worst defensive games," said Green. "The only time defense hurts you is when it adds up on the scoreboard. Tonight it did.”
And Randy Lerch is 1-7 because of it – and more than a bit depressed.
"One and seven," Lerch said, shaking his head. "For me, it's impossible to get that out of my head."
And Green doesn't want Lerch turning into the head case he threatens to become.
"He wants to win so bad he can taste it," said Green. "We have to get him on key. Pitching against the Pirates isn't so easy."
The Phillies hit some tracer shots off Robinson to take a 3-2 lead after two innings before the Pirates drew a bead on Lerch and blasted him from the game in the fifth on four hits and three errors, good for five unearned runs.
"If we'd only got out of that inning..." Lerch mumbled as he disappeared from sight after the game.
The Phils got two quick runs in the first. Pete Rose extended his hitting streak to eight games by hitting Robinson's first pitch to right for a single.
After Robinson's wild pitch advanced Rose, Schmidt walked. Bob Boone blooped a two-out double oyer first that scored both runners.
Lerch couldn't stand the prosperity, however, and gave back the two runs in the bottom of the first.
Omar Moreno lashed a single to right and Vance Law, former pitcher Vern's son, hit a gapper that rolled to the wall in left-center for a triple. Dave Parker's grounder to second tied the game.
The Phils regained the lead on four singles in the second. Bake McBride's infield chopper that third baseman Bill Madlock couldn't handle scored Manny Trillo.
But as Robinson settled down and buried the telltale baseball in his glove, Lerch was sabotaged by shoddy defense in the fifth after a pair of double plays bailed him out of earlier jams.
Lee Lacy, whose two home runs accounted for all three runs Lerch allowed in his only victory of the year last Tuesday night in Philadelphia, opened the inning with a double that rolled to the wall in right center. Lerch obligingly wild-pitched him to third.
Trillo gloved Steve Nicosia's wicked liner to temporarily stall the explosion, but then the roof caved in.
Dale Berra waited out a walk and Tanner let Robinson bat. Considering his 6-for-12 stats and .500 batting average, it wasn't a bad move.
Robinson drilled a ball at Schmidt that might have been an inning-ending double play, had Schmidt gloved it cleanly.
But the ball tailed away and Schmidt could only knock it down. Then he threw late to the plate for an error and the game was tied.
"He knows I can hit and he left me in the game," said Robinson. "It was early and we were short on players. Most of all, it gave me a chance to stay in and go after that complete game."
Moreno fired a single to right but McBride pounced on it and threw Berra out at the plate, giving Lerch another light at the end of his seemingly endless tunnel of tough losses.
After Moreno stole second on another of Boone's one-hop relays, Law hit a high chopper to short that Larry Bowa threw late to first, scoring Robinson with the go-ahead run.
That's when the not-so-funny comedy of errors began. Parker lined a single to right that McBride let bounce past him for an error, scoring Moreno.
Lerrin LaGrow replaced Lerch and served up a ground ball to Bill Robinson that Schmidt threw past Rose at first, allowing two more runs to score.
In the sixth, Robinson singled home two more runs, making it 9-3. It was no fun after that... except for the 19,990 Pirate fans, who loved every minute.
EXTRA INNINGS – Lacy's hit in 12 straight games... Pirates are 60-28 (.682) vs. the Phils here... Moreno stole four bases last night on three one-hop throws from Boone and a ho-throw on a steal of third... Boone's thrown out seven of 45 basestealers, though the pitchers haven't exactly glued anybody to first base... Pirates have topped the 400,000 mark in attendance in their 23rd home game, a record pace... Dick Ruthven vs. Buddy Jay Solomon tonight at 7:35 p.m. (Channel 17).