Camden Courier-Post - May 17, 1980

Phillies, Ruthven blank Astros


By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post 


HOUSTON – The reconstruction of Dick Ruthven, which once seemed months away, was astonishingly completed last night by a 3-0 victory over the Houston Astros that gave the Phillies their fourth consecutive win in the Astrodome.


Ruthven threw a brilliantly-conceived five-hitter at the Astros, extending their scoreless inning string to 22. Houston has not scored a run since Tuesday and has now lost four straight. The righthander did it against James Rodney Richard, the National League's acknowledged authority on throwing a baseball past hitters.


The evolution of Ruthven's pitching has been nothing short of amazing. On April 27 he was 0-2 with a 9.56 earned run average. With this shutout – his first since he threw a one-hitter against San Diego last May 9 – Ruthven raised his record to 4-2 and lowered his ERA to 4.50. That's a reduction of more than five runs in four starts.


"From center field," said Del Unser, "he was just a pleasure to watch."


Manager Dallas Green started Unser in place of Garry Maddox and gave slumping Greg Luzinski the night off by using Greg Gross in left field. The move, as it turned out, worked to perfection, Unser tripling and scoring a run, and Gross throwing out a runner at the plate.


"Hugh (Alexander, the Phillies chief scout) talked about it for quite awhile Thursday night," said Green. "He felt lefthanded hitters would have better success against Richard than righthanded hitters. And, that's what I got lefthanded hitters for. I've said all along this is a 25-man team. Is there anything wrong with that?"


Apparently not. Gross helped get Ruthven out of the first of two jams. Shortstop Craig Reynolds, who would later make an error that led to an unearned run, opened the third inning with a triple down the first base line. Ruthven got Richard to bounce back to the mound before Danny Walling lofted a soft fly ball to left-center.


Gross and Unser both converged on the ball, but Gross waved Unser away, making the catch and throwing a perfect one-bounce strike to catcher Bob Boone to easily nail Reynolds.


"I was a little surprised he (Reynolds) went, but I always anticipate a runner going," said Gross. "They hadn't scored any runs in awhile. It was early in the game and I'm sure they were trying to do anything to get a run."


Added Green: "I know they're trying to get the big guy (Richard) a run and let him do the work. But that's still pushing it.”


Ruthven was again in trouble in the sixth with one out and runners on first and second. His lead was a tenuous 1-0 when Jose Cruz smacked a ball down the first base line that Pete Rose backhanded nicely for the second out, the runners advancing. Ruthven did the rest himself, jamming Cesar Cedeno with a fast ball that the center fielder lifted weakly to left


"That's as pinpoint as I've seen him (Ruthven) with his fast ball," said Green.


The Phils gave Ruthven some margin for error in the eighth when Larry Bowa reached first on Reynolds' error and went to third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run single by Manny Trillo. Rose walked to load the bases for Bake McBride, who promptly delivered a two-run single.


Richard looked unbeatable through the first three innings, striking out two of the first three batters he faced and allowing only singles by Mike Schmidt and Ruthven.


The Phils, however, got to him with one out in the fourth when Unser tripled to right-center and tagged and scored when Schmidt ripped a line drive to center fielder Cesar Cedeno. The Astros were conceding a run, thus Cedeno did not attempt a throw to the plate.


PHIL UPS – Phils were 2-0 last year against Richard, who had not beaten them since July 18, 1978... He went ' into the game 6-6 overall against the Phils... McBride extended his hitting streak to a team-high 11 games with a single to center in the sixth... Phils went into the game, having won three straight in the Astrodome... Richard is the major league leader in strikeouts, going into the game with 56 in 47 Innings... The Phils' Steve Carlton is second with 52... Cedeno played after missing four games with a lower back strain... Larry Christenson opposes Joe Niekro tonight, with Randy Lerch scheduled to face Nolan Ryan tomorrow afternoon.

Owners reject players’ offer


NEW YORK (AP) – Major league baseball appeared to move closer to the second general strike in its history yesterday after management rejected a player association offer that might have ended the stalemate.


"I think they're farther apart now than they have been," said Kenneth Moffett, deputy director of the federal Mediation Service. "Unless we start spending time at the table there is the likelihood of a strike."


The negotiation atmosphere turned gloomy yesterday morning when management turned down the union proposal that would have isolated the compensation free agent issue for two years while the question is studied by a joint committee.


Then, in late afternoon, the owners' negotiators asked -for another session. At that time they read a statement, offering to maintain until the opening of the 1981 season the terms of the basic agreement that expired Dec. 31, 1979.  Baseball is currently being played under terms of that agreement.


Management offered to guarantee that it would not declare an impasse in negotiations, an action that might permit the owners to suspend terms of the agreement.


"The clubs pledge to maintain a status quo while bargaining goes on," said Ray Grebey, chief negotiator for the owners.