Wilmington News Journal - June 8, 1980

Lerch slows Phils search for starter


By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Reporter


PHILADELPHIA – Left-hander Randy Lerch won his second game of the season last night as the Phillies topped the Chicago Cubs 5-2, but the Phils haven't called off their search for another starting pitcher just yet.


"Randy pitched very, very well," said Manager Dallas Green after the Phils moved within a game of division-leading Montreal and Pittsburgh, just percentage points behind the Expos.


"Randy Lerch has to be part of this staff. I've said it all along and I believe it. If he throws like he did tonight, he'll be part of the staff. He's gonna win with stuff like that.


"He has to be an integral part of the staff, whether June 15 (the trading deadline) is coming up or not. But we've seen flashes, good and bad, before. He has to back it up. I think he's capable of doing it and going on a 5-6-7-game winning streak."


Lerch, now 2-7, was not around to be interviewed when-the game ended. Instead of celebrating his second victory, Lerch was steamed about being lifted in the seventh inning and stormed out of the clubhouse without a word.


"He pitched well 'til the inning I took him out," said Green. He'd lost a little off his fastball and was feeling for his breaking ball. I wanted him to pitch out of the jam but I felt the change had to be made. But Randy had super stuff for five innings."


And the Phillies had staked him to a 5-1 lead after six, foiling longtime nemesis Rick Reuschel. The Phils got nine hits off Reuschel, now 5-5, and five more against relievers Dick Tidrow and Willie Hernandez.


Four Phils had two or more hits, with Mike Schmidt getting three to come within one of his 1,000th major-league hit.


And Pete Rose, playing with a cutout right shoe for a chipped toe, led the team in guts for playing seven innings in pain.


"Don (Seger) said it's gonna be sore for a couple weeks and that I could play as long as I could stand the pain," said Rose, who plays come pain or shine.


Rose took a Mike Krukow fastball on the toe in Friday night's game and watched the digit turn dark blue, despite repeated icings. But there was no way he'd miss the game.


"There's two bones in the toe and one crushed the other one," explained Rose. 'Seger cut out part of my shoe so I could play. It doesn't hurt when I run but it bothered me stretching for the throws to first."


But Pete left no doubt that he'd continue to play, even if it's for only seven innings at a time.


The Phillies wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. Bob Boone's double and a single by Manny Trillo staked Lerch to a 1-0 lead in the second.


They got two more runs off Reuschel in the fifth. Rose led off with a double to left center that ex-Phil Jerry Martin dribbled several steps.


Bake McBride followed with a single to right and Mike Vail's throw seemed to arrive just as Rose began his slide. Rose was called safe by umpire Fred Brocklander and the Cubs argued, to no avail, that catcher Tim Blackwell had blocked the plate.


"If he'd have called me out, I wouldn't have argued, it was that close," said Rose. "I would've been disappointed, but I'm glad I was safe."


After Greg Luzinski walked, Boone singled to center, scoring McBride for a 3-0 lead.


The Cubs ended Lerch's shutout bid in the sixth on Mike Tyson's two-out walk and Larry Biittner's double between Luzinski and center field Garry Maddox.


The Phils got two more runs off Tidrow in the bottom of the sixth.


Larry Bowa singled, raced to third on Trillo's hit-and-run single to left and scored on Lerch's single to right. Rose advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt before McBride walked to load the bases.


Lerch swinging away and Rose bunting raised some eyebrows but Green defended the move and Rose, too, had no objections.


"Nobody's too good to bunt if the occasion's right," Rose said. "We needed more runs."


Schmidt singled home the fifth run before Tidrow got Luzinski and Boone to end the inning.


Vail, who has hit in seven straight games, homered to open the Cubs' seventh and Lerch never finished the inning.


The Cubs put two more runners on base before Green brought in Dickie Noles to relieve Lerch, who got a rousing ovation from the 31,153 fans.


The cheers must have been a strange sound to Lerch, whe hadn't been on the fans' good side most of the season, but the memory of Green's thumb is what he carried out of the clubhouse.


Noles got pinch-hitter Billy Buckner on a liner to left to end the inning and the Cubs never seriously threatened thereafter as Noles picked up his fourth save.


Noles, it turns out, stiffened up after relieving Steve Carlton in last Saturday's 7-0 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley and was benched until the stiffness left.


"He feels a lot better now," said Green, most mysterious about the problem. "That was something new to Dickie and, rather than panic him, I decided to sit him down. He didn't pitch after that game. But he's over the stiffness now."


And if Randy Lerch can channel his anger at the opposition and come up with several good games in a row, the Phils' rotation may get the shot in the arm it needs, even without the trade everyone seems to feel is so necessary.


Lerch's next start should be interesting. Maybe even quotable.


EXTRA INNINGS - Phils are 17-9 at the Vet, winning 13 of last 17... The Phillies finally got ex-Oriole infielder Billy Smith, for whom Baltimore wanted several minor-league prospects during spring training. Smith, who was released by the Birds early in the season, was signed yesterday by the Phils' Oklahoma City farm club... Rose needs five hits to tie Honus Wagner for fifth place on the all-time hit Earade... Chicago columnist Dave Kingman has hit in eight straight and Biittner seven... Dick Ruthven vs. Cubs' Lynn McGlothen in today's 1:35 p.m. T-shirt day game... San Francisco Giants open a three-game set here tomorrow night with John Montefusco facing Steve Carlton.