Wilmington Evening Journal - June 4, 1980
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH – They spelled relief four different ways here last night.
The Phillies spelled it M-c-G-r-a-w. The Pirates spelled it R-o-m-o, then T-e-k-u-l-v-e and, finally, J-a-c-k-s-o-n.
So when the Phillies' game against the Pittsburgh Pirates ended after 2½ hours of high drama in Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh was most relieved of all, in numbers and runs.
"You can't fault any pitcher who pitched tonight," said Pirates Manager Chuck Tanner in perfect summation of the Bucs' 4-3 victory before 22,141 fans. "The ball just bounced our way the last time."
The ball also bounced against the right-field wall on one hop after Tug McGraw hung a curve ball to Ed Ott as Ott's bases-loaded single drove home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
The Pirates got four innings of scoreless, three-hit relief from their trio, with Grant Jackson getting the victory. The Phils got 3⅔ innings of nail-biting relief from McGraw, who escaped from two jams until the last one did him in.
"Tug pitched his tail off, no question about it," said Phils Manager Dallas Green, who said he was determined to leave McGraw in the game no matter what the situation.
"They had all left-handers coming up in the ninth," said Green of McGraw's fourth inning of work. "Ed Ott's a good baseball player. He's hurt the Phillies before and he did it again tonight."
Last Aug. 11, Ott hit a grand-slam homer off McGraw. He was one of four left-handed hitters to accomplish that trick, which helped McGraw set a rather dubious major-league record.
"I once had a manager who said he wouldn't play me unless I learned to hit left-handers," said Ott. "I guess I learned."
And McGraw learned the hard way last night.
"I tried to get Ott out on the same pitch I got John Milner (for the second out of the inning)," said McGraw, now 0-2. "I tried to overthrow it. I muscled it and got it up."
And Ott got it to the wall beyond Bake McBride's last stride.
The Pirates had loaded the bases on rookie Vance Law's single past shortstop Larry Bowa and a pair of intentional walks that were wrapped around groundouts by Dave Parker and Milner.
Bowa said he had shaded Law more toward third because Mike Schmidt was guarding the line.
Ott's hit proved that McGraw had found himself in one jam too many.
"Tug pitched great getting out of the jam for Rufus (starter Dick Ruthven), then he created one himself and pitched great getting out of that one," said Green. "But Tug's had good stuff most of the year."
The first jam came in the sixth when McGraw relieved Ruthven with two runs home and runners at second and third with nobody out.
The Bucs had pared the Phils' 3-0 lead to 3-2 on Law's single, Parker's double, a single by Willie Stargell and a double by Mike Easier.
McGraw went after Bill Madlock, who lined the first pitch over third. It probably was headed for foul territory but Schmidt, who had cracked his 18th homer off Eddie Solomon in the first, made a spectacular catch for the first out.
"Even if it would have been foul," said McGraw, "that catch saved me from throwing any more pitches to Madlock. That was a super catch.”
Up came Ott, and McGraw got him this time on a foul pop to Schmidt. Then Tug fanned Dale Berra to end the inning.
In the seventh, Omar Moreno, who had been blinding the Phils with stolen bases, tripled with one out. But McGraw got Law and Parker for another narrow escape as the fans groaned.
In the eighth, Willie Stargell struck back, drilling what McGraw called his "Frank Sinatra fastball - you know, 'Fly Me to the Moon" - over the wall in right to tie the game 3-3.
"Stargell hit that one on the moon," said McGraw, shaking his head. "Ah, I Just tried to sneak a fastball past him.
"Sometimes I get him and sometimes he gets me. He was with me on that pitch. If I'd have thrown it more outside, he'd just have hit it over the center-field wall."
It was Stargell's third career home run off McGraw, but his first since May 19, 1973, at Shea Stadium, when McGraw was still a you-gotta-believe New York Met.
McGraw still believes, but sometimes he has to wonder.
"I had to pitch good tonight because I kept getting myself in trouble," he said. "A reliever has got to be able to throw strikes. You can afford to load the bases (with four intentional walks in two innings) if you can throw strikes. I just made a mistake to Ott."
Two mistakes, according to Green, were all that marred McGraw's melodramatic masterpiece.
"They hit two mistakes," Green said wearily. "Stargell got a fast ball over the plate and Ott a hanging curve ball."
Tanner considers Ott more than a mistake hitter.
"As far as being a tough competitor under pressure, I don t care how big they are, there's nobody better than Ed Ott." Tanner said.
And Willie Stargell, who before the game was presented something called the Victor Award as baseball's top player (according to a TV poll), doesn't do badly in a pinch, either.
Actually, the Phillies have nobody to blame but themselves. They got three runs off starter Eddie Solomon in the first three innings – two on Schmidt's first-inning homer and another on Greg Luzinski's triple in the third after Schmidt walked – but that was it.
"We just didn't get any more runs after we got the three," said Green, who tried to downplay any make-or-break significance to tonight s final game of the series, now that the Pirates have put four games between them and the Phils.
"It's no more important than tonight's game was," said Green. "It’s still early, but they’re all important. At least tonight's game was more like Phillies-Pirates games are supposed to be."
EXTRA INNINGS - Pirate pitchers had four consecutive complete games before Solomon was lifted for a pinch hitter last night... Lee Lacy's 12-game hitting streak ended when be popped out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh… Omar Moreno is 6-for-6 this season and 31-for-37 lifetime on stolen-base attempts vs. the Phils... Romo hasn't allowed a run in his last six appearances and only one earned run in his last 10 outings, spanning 18 innings.
Phils draft future battery
PHILADELPHIA – Henry Powell, a catcher from Pensacola, Fla., and Larry Knight, a pitcher from Chattanooga, Tenn., were the Phillies' first two picks in yesterday's free agent draft.
Powell, a 5-11, 210-pound right-handed hitter, was scouted by Andy Seminick, a former catcher for the Phils. Powell is from Pine Forest High.
One of Seminick's reports said Powell "had a quick bat and is aggressive. He has a strong arm but needs work on throwing."
Knight is a 6-0, 175-pound righthander.
The Phillies had the 13th selection in the regular phase. In the secondary phase, which includes players previously drafted but who did not sign, they picked 21st.
The first pick there was Kevin Romine from Costa Mesa, Calif , a center fielder-shortstop.
Completing the secondary phase, the Phils took Tim Lambert, pitcher, Pomona, Cal., Ken Dowell, shortstop, Sacramento, Cal., Fernando Perez, catcher, Susanville, Cal., Ed Wojna, pitcher, Monroe, Cal., and John White, outfielder, San Pedro, Cal.