Wilmington News Journal - May 17, 1980

Ruthven 5-hitter too much for Astros


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


HOUSTON – In Cincinnati last Sunday afternoon Dallas Green said Dick Ruthven was back.


"You can bet on it," the Phillies' manager said after the right-hander defeated the Reds 7-3 with seven strong innings. "I'm convinced he's back.”


"I'm pleased," said Ruthven, who became one of the biggest question marks on the Phils' pitching staff when he struggled in his first four starts as his earned run average zoomed to 9.56. "But the big thing is I know I am going to be even better."


He was correct.


Ruthven pitched his best game in over a year last night in the Astrodome, going the distance to shut out Houston and J. R. Richard 3-0. He allowed only five hits with one walk and one strikeout.


"It was a masterpiece," said Green. "Anytime you beat Richard it's an achievement. Just like I said last Sunday, the real Dick Ruthven is back."


There would be even more excitement in the Phillies' clubhouse if the threat of a strike were not hanging over their heads. The news from New York, where owners and players are negotiating, was not good last night.


Last night's shutout was the 14th in Ruthven's career and his first since complete game since May 9, 1979 when he pitched a one-hitter at San Diego.


"My fastball was popping tonight, but my slider was just as effective," said Ruthven, whose record is now 4-2. "When you get something other than the fastball working, they don't sit back and wait for it. Tonight, I did not put a lot of effort in my pitches. It seems like I always do better when I feel like that."


Ruthven has won his last three starts, working 28 innings, allowing 23 hits and only five earned runs. His ERA is 4.50. The victory was only his fifth in 15 decisions against the Astros.


Richard appeared his overpowering self in the opening innings. He struck out three of the first seven batters he faced, allowing just one single.


“Ruthven had the ball on the black of the plate all night," said Houston's Enos Cabell. "You're not supposed to hit the ball when a pitcher puts it there."


"We're making a lot of pitchers look good right now," said Houston Manager Billy Virdon, whose Astros have now gone 22 innings without scoring a run. "But don't take anything away from Ruthven. He mixed his pitches well and kept us off-balance. He pitched a fine game."


Richard, whose only previous loss was on May 5 when he allowed four runs in a third of an inning before losing to Montreal, said he just has to shrug off a game like this one.


"The team's not hitting, so I cannot get upset about losing this kind of game," said Richard, who struck out six and allowed six hits in eight innings. "Physically, I felt fine tonight. My back (he has been bothered by a strain) did not bother me. I would much prefer to lose like I did tonight than get kayoed early."


The Phils took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Del Unser, one of two left-handers Green inserted in the line-up against Richard, tripled to right-center. Mike Schmidt followed with a sacrifice fly.


In the bottom of the previous inning, Ruthven was outstanding. Craig Reynolds opened with a triple ending an 0-for-12 slump. Ruthven then got Richard to ground out, and got out of trouble when Denny Walling flied to right and Greg Gross rifled the throw to the plate to cut down Reynolds.


The Phils nursed their 1-0 lead until the eighth when Bake McBride's bases-loaded single scored two more runs.


McBride is now 18-for-37 with runners in scoring position.


Bowa reached first safely when his grounder shot through Reynolds' legs for an error. Manny Trillo followed with a single to left, putting runners on first and third. Trillo advanced on Ruthven's sacrifice and after Pete Rose walked, McBride crushed a 1-0 fastball to right.


Green benched Greg Luzinski and Garry Maddox in favor of Unser and Gross because advance scout Hugh Alexander felt left-handers were handling Richard much better this year than lefties.


"We talked about it at length on Thursday night," said Green. "I thought we might as well give Unser and Gross a chance. After all, what's wrong with using all 25 players?"


Unser said he jumped on a fastball for his triple, but preferred to talk about Ruthven.


"From center field, he was pleasing to watch," he said. "He had pinpoint control with his fastball. He was on the black all night."


EXTRA POINTS - The Phils had a 4-2 record against the Astros here last year and were 3-3 at the Vet... Rose has just 25 hits, but 10 of them have been doubles to put him in second place behind the Mets' John Stearns in that department... Schmidt, who got the first hit off Richard leading off the second inning, has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games... Rose continued his on-base consistency... He has been on in all but two of the Phils' games... Larry Christenson, who missed a start in Atlanta because of a sore elbow, goes against Joe Niekro tonight at 8:30, with Randy Lerch opposing Nolan Ryan tomorrow afternoon at 3:05 p.m.... After that, the Phils return home for what could be their final homestand of the year... They play the Reds in a three-game series... Thursday is an open date, with most of the players expected to be sitting around waiting to find out whether they will strike at midnight or not.

Baseball strike seems likely


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.


Miller did amend the player association offer he had made Thursday. He said instead of a two-year study committee that if the players' recommendation is adopted, the owners could demand reopening negotiations to deal with compensation after one year.