Cincinnati Enquirer - May 12, 1980
Ruthven Skips No. 2 Philosophy, Beats Reds
By Ray Buck, Sports Reporter
Psssst. Keep this story out of the reach of Little Leaguers. The Cincinnati Reds were beaten Sunday, 7-3, by a guy who has stopped trying so hard.
Un-American, you say? How can a pitcher who works in the same town with Independence Hall and the ghost of Betsy Ross decide to trim tenacity from his repertoire?
Well, Dick Ruthven of the Philadelphia Phillies brought a notorious 1-11 lifetime record against the Reds into the game Sunday at Riverfront. He hadn't beaten the Reds since his first appearance against them – April 28, 1973.
"I always tried too hard against the Reds," confessed the 29-year-old right-hander who underwent elbow surgery last September. "A lot of times I struck out 10 guys and got my doors blown off in the fifth or sixth."
Sunday, Ruthven (3-2) scattered 10 hits over seven innings and rode off into the sunset with his doors firmly intact, while 23-year-old Dickie Noles provided one-run relief over the final two Innings to stop the Reds' winning streak at four games.
"I DECIDED three starts ago I was trying too hard," Ruthven explained "I have a tendency to mess up if I try too hard. My fastball becomes straight and I overthrow my curveball. Today, I felt it didn't take as much effort to get good results."
Three starts ago, Ruthven's ERA was bursting at the seams at 9.56. But with his laid-back, waterbed approach to pitching, his ERA has been a very snug 2.64.
"Whenever I pitched well in the past, throwing the ball was always kinda effortless. My fastball moves and that sets up my changeup, then they can't sit on a particular pitch."
Ruthven's right elbow resembles the geography around Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. Another work of art by Dr. Frank Jobe, well-known orthopedic surgeon from Los Angeles.
"I know it (elbow) ain't pretty but it's working," Ruthven said with a beer, a cigarette and a smile.
While Ruthven tried not to try so hard, It was simply a trying afternoon for Reds' starter Mike LaCoss (3-3).
AFTER W INNING his first three starts, LaCoss has now allowed 27 hits in his last three starts.
Sunday, he couldn't pitch his way out of the third inning as two unearned runs in the second put him and the Reds behind forever.
Bob Boone singled in the second and was erased on Greg Gross' fielder's choice. Junior Kennedy fielded Larry Bowa's grounder but fumbled the ball out of his glove. After a groundout moved Gross and Bowa to second and third, Ruthven blooped a two-run single off his fists into shallow right field.
In the third, LaCoss loaded the bases on two singles and a walk before pitching three would-be doubleplay balls that produced a grand total of two outs.
With the bases loaded, Boone bounced a double-play ball to Ray Knight, who considered going home with his throw. But the ball momentarily stuck in his glove and Knight had to settle for just one out at second base. Phils led, 3-0.
Gross followed with a come-backer that LaCoss momentarily couldn't extract from his mitt. Again, the Reds settled for one out. Phils led, 4-0.
THEN BOWA slapped a routine double-play grounder to the right side. But Kennedy broke toward second base with the runner moving... and the ball rolled through the vacated hole into right field. Phils led, 5-0. LaCoss was gone.
"I've seen him better," said McBride, whose single off the right-field wall was, by far, the hardest hit ball off LaCoss. "It seems like he's (throwing) more over the top than in the past."
Pete Rose, who went 2-for-12 and scored a couple of runs in the three-game series, concurred.
"It looks to me like he's throwing more overhand," Rose said. "But he's a streaky pitcher. He gets into ruts. Last September, he couldn't do anything right; May and June, he couldn't do anything wrong. He's a thinker, too. If he gets it going wrong, he can think himself into a slump. I don't like to see a kid do that."
Rose was asked about the Reds' pitching as a whole this past series.
"They prove you don't have to throw hard to win," Rose replied. "I was surprised with Seaver (on Saturday). They say he doesn't have a sore arm but it must be his back or something. It wasn't the Tom Seaver I know.
"IT'S FUN to play here," he added. "I just wish I could get more hits and we could win more games. You should win more games than one-of-three when (George) Foster is on the bench and (Ken) Griffey doesn't play one game. That's like coming into Philadelphia with (Mike) Schmidt and (Greg) Luzinskl on the bench."
Rose literally stole a run from the Reds in the seventh when he drew a leadoff walk from reliever Mario Soto, stole second, stole third and, as the delayed party in a delayed double-steal, stole home.
Schmidt had just beaten Don Werner's throw to second base and the ball was momentarily smothered in the dirt when Rose broke for home. "I don't think I ever stole three bases in one game... but I also think I haven't tried," said the man of 2,692 major league games – sixth-best on the all-time National League list.
When Concepclon argued that he had tagged Rose on his steal of sec-ond base, the two exchanged friendly barbs. Then when Rose slid into third, he asked umpire Bruce Froemming, "Do you think you could hit .198?"
Froemming nodded. "Well," Rose replied, "trade places with Davey because he wants to umpire."
The Reds scored their first run in the sixth when Concepcion and Dan Driessen each doubled.
Harry Spilman, 5-for-7 as a pinch-hitter this year, crashed his first major-league home run as a pinch-hitter in the seventh while Cesar Geronimo, who knocked in the Reds' final run in the ninth inning, saw his four-hit day wasted.
Reds Notes: Rose Steals Into Record Books
By Ray Buck, Sports Reporter
The entry, Just another of many Pete Rose mentions in the record book, will read like this: "Most Stolen Bases, Inning 3 By many AL & NL players. Last: Peter E. Rose, NL, Phila., May 11, 1980." Rose made It with his seventh-inning exploit when he walked, then stole his way home, his first thefts of the year. No National Leaguer had done It since Harvey Hendrirk of the Dodgers, then in Brooklyn, in 1928. Davey Nelson of Texas was the most recent American League triple thief, in 1974... Reds catcher Don Werner on Sunday's starter, Mike LaCoss: "Mike just didn't have his sinkerball today. Nothing was really working. The way he was throwing-struggling-you need to come up with big plays to turn It around."... Paul Moskau impressive with 2h hitless Innings of relief... Mario Soto had a good changeup (according to Rose) but has now walked 17 batters In 18 innings of relief... Doug Bair allowed eighth-Inning run on back-to-back, opposite-field doubles by Bowa and Manny Trillo... Johnny Rench appeared as pinch-hitter but did not start because right elbow Is still bothering him... Tom Hume's 1.86 ERA Is now NL's second-best behind Atlanta starter Rick Matula's 1.80... George Foster Is "possibility" to return to left field Tuesday white Reds open two-game series against New York Mets at River front.