Sports Illustrated - June 9, 1980

Baseball- N.L. East


By Steve Wull


With Larry Christenson  on the 60-day disabled list following elbow surgery and with Randy Lerch in the bullpen after going 0-6 as a starter, Philadelphia Manager Dallas Green had to make do with a “patchwork rotation.”  Fortunately for the Phillies (4-3), Steve Carlton continued to excel, stopping the Cubs 7-0 for his ninth victory.  After Carlton had fanned 11 batters in seven innings, Green yanked him to try to keep his arm strong for an anticipated stretch drive.  It helped, too, that Lerch, after 10 days in the bullpen, went eight strong innings as a starter and finally won, 6-3, over the Pirates.  Mike Schmidt clubbed a two-run homer in that game and set up a 7-6 defeat of Pittsburgh by leading off the ninth with a double.  Larry Bowa concluded the two-run rally with a single.  Pete Rose hit .400 and had four doubles, and Schmidt has a five-homer, 10-RBI week.  That gave Schmidt 16 four-baggers and 41 RBIs, both tops in the majors.


Pittsburgh (3-4) clung to a one-game lead with the aid of Mike Easler’s pinch single in the 13th that knocked off second-place Philadelphia 3-2.  Bert Blyleven finally notched his first victory, whitewashing the Mets 5-0 on seven hits.


Ellis Valentine of the Expos (3-2) was shelved for at least two weeks after a pitch shattered his cheekbone.  Keeping Montreal going were the pitching of Steve Rogers, who blanked Chicago 4-0, and the hitting of Chris Speier, Andre Dawson and Gary Carter.  Speier, who had been out for almost a month with back spasm, hit .526, Dawson .461 and Carter .440.  Carter also drove in 10 runs and unloaded five homers, one inside the park when two Cardinal outfielders collided, allowing the ball to roll to the wall.


Despite the foul-up, St. Louis (2-3) won the game 8-6 after a pep talk from 80-year-old owner Gussie Busch.  The Cardinals, who have been playing more like bushers than Buschers, used their No. 1 starting pitcher, Pete Vukovich, in relief for the last four innings to seal the victory.  Earlier, they had ended a 10-game losing streak by holding off the Mets 8-5 as Bob Forsch hurled an inelegant 13-hitter.  George Hendrick homered twice in that game and finished with four home runs and 10 RBIs.


New York (4-2) pulled four games ahead- of last-place St. Louis.  A six-run eighth overcame a 5-0 Cardinal lead, and Neil Allen made the 6-5 margin stand up as he got his ninth save.  Craig Swan’s 3-0, three-hit victory over Atlanta and Pat Zachary’s 5-1 win in Pittsburgh also gave the Mets a boost.  So did .473 hitting by John Stearns, whose two doubles gave him a major-league leading 17.


Chicago (3-2) made the most of long-awaited home runs and daring base running.  A fence-clearing drive by Ivan DeJesus, the first by a Cub in 90 innings, led to a 4-2 triumph over the Expos.  “Even a blind squirrel stumbles over an accord,” was Tim

Blackwell’s way of saying he was just plain nuts about his first homer in the majors after 563 at bats.  The smash, plus another by Mike Vail, who his .435, led the Cubs past the Phillies 10-7.  “I’m a thief,” said Lenny Randle after he set up a 2-1 victory over the Dodgers with some nifty base running.  With two out and two on in the bottom of the ninth and L.A. leading 1-0, Randle scooted from first to second on a fly to short left.  Then, when Shortstop Bill Russell fielded a grounder and made a wide throw to first, Blackwell scored from third and Randle barreled all the way home for a 2-1 Cub victory.


PITT 25-18; PHIL 23-18; MONT 21-19; CHI 19-21; NY 19-23; ST. L 16-28