Wilmington Morning News - June 4, 1980
Pirates come back, beat Phillies
Buc catcher haunts Tug as Phils lose 4-3
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
PITTSBURGH – Ed Ott got Tug McGraw again here last night.
Last year, Ott was one of four left-handed hitters who hit grand-slam home runs off the Phillies' left-handed reliever. Last night, Ott settled for a bases-loaded single, but it was enough for a 4-3 Pirates' victory before 22,141 jubilant fans in Three Rivers Stadium.
"I just tried to overthrow the pitch, said McGraw after the Phils ad fallen four games behind the Bucs. "I muscled it and got it up."
And Ott got it out to the warning track in right field, beyond Bake McBride's reach, and the game was over.
"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."
Pittsburgh had loaded the bases on Vance Law's single past shortstop Larry Bowa and two intentional walks, wrapped around two infield groundouts.
McGraw got one strike on Ott, then hung the curveball that killed him.
"Tug pitched his tail off, no question about it," said Manager Dallas Green of the Phils after McGraw gave him four top-notch innings of relief. "Ed Ott's hurt the Phillies before and he did it again tonight."
Before Ott got his shot, Willie Stargell did against McGraw, who'd been brilliant in two earlier jams, what he couldn't accomplish against starter Dick Ruthven – crush a pitch and send it out of the park.
Stargell, who'd hit seven lifetime homers off Ruthven, tied the game 3-3 in the eighth with one massive swing against McGraw. It was only Willie's third against McGraw and first in seven years.
"That was my Frank Sinatra fastball – you know, 'Fly Me to the Moon,' " said McGraw.
Mike Easier followed with a double to the base of the wall in left center. A pair of intentional walks, wrapped around Ed Ott's sacrifice bunt, loaded the bases with one out.
McGraw got Bill Robinson on a broken-bat pop to Pete Rose at first, then caught Omar Moreno looking at a third strike to escape any further damage.
The Phillies got only three hits off Eddie Solomon in the five innings he worked but they were good enough for three runs and a 3-0 lead.
Mike Schmidt cracked his 18th homer, a shot that landed at the base of the flagpole in left center after McBride had doubled in the first inning.
Ironically, atop the flagpole flew the Pirates' 1979 world championship flag and later, as Easier flied out to end the fourth inning, the rope holding that banner broke and the flag came toppling down, landing in a heap behind the left field fence.
An omen perhaps? Or just a cheap rope?
Anyway, the Phillies made it 3-0 in the third when Schmidt walked with two out and Greg Luzinski tripled off the center-field wall.
"We just didn't get any more runs after we got the three,", lamented Green.
Ruthven, who found that keeping the Pirates off base was indeed the secret to thwarting their basestealing tactics, allowed just two hits in the first four innings.
He gave up two more in the fifth when Dale Berra and pinch-hitter Manny Sanguillen both singled with two out, but Moreno lined to Schmidt to end the threat.
Ruthven wasn't as lucky in the sixth.
Law led off with a broken-bat flare to center for a single and Dave Parker chopped a double over first. Stargell hit the first pitch to left for a single, ending Ruthven's shutout bid and bringing Green to the mound for a brief conference.
Dallas left, Easier came to bat and Ruthven promptly threw him a breaking pitch that the self-styled Hit Man drilled to left center for a double, scoring Parker with the Bucs' second run.
Green came out again to lift Ruthven and bring in McGraw, who merely faced a second-and-third, nobody-out situation.
Bill Madlock, who's been making more news of late with his on-again, off-again suspension than with his bat, hit McGraw's first pitch on a line over third but Schmidt made a spectacular leaping catch to turn Madlock's apparent two-run double into the first out of the inning.
McGraw bore down, got Ott on a foul pop to Schmidt and then struck out Berra to end the inning.
"Tug pitched great getting out of the jam for Rufus, then he created one himself and pitched great getting out of that one," said Green, "Tug's had good stuff all year."
Green was so impressed with Tug's pitching that he let him bat against Enrique Romo with runners at the corners and one man out in the seventh. McGraw laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Manny Trillo to second, but Pete Rose grounded out, ending his eight-game hitting streak and the inning.
"I didn't consider taking Tug out in ANY situation tonight," Green said. "He had good stuff tonight and they hit two mistakes. Stargell hit a fastball over the plate and Ott a hanging curveball.
But those two mistakes were enough for the Pirates last night.
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 he 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... Enrique Romo hasn't allowed a run in his last six appearances and only one earned run in his last 10 outings, spanning 18 innings... Tekulve's appearance was his 385th, good for eighth place on the Bucs' all-time list, ahead of Rip Sewell.