Camden Courier-Post - May 25, 1980

Phils topple Astros for 8th in last 11


By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post


PHILADELPHIA – Anytime a baseball game is decided by one run, there's a temptation to pin the decision on one key hit, one crucial play in the field, or one big pitch.


But it would be impossible to cite one element as the catalyst for the Phillies' 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros last night before 28,539 fans in Veterans Stadium. Indeed, this was a "roster" win for the Phils, giving them a 4-1 record on this home stand and eight victories in their last 11 games.


The Phillies got credible performances from three different pitchers and RBIs from five different hitters to gang up on the Astros, who've now lost four out of five games to Philadelphia and trail Los Angeles in the West Division standings by3½ games.


If there was a breakthrough of any sort, it came in the seventh inning, when the Phillies scored a run off reliever Dave Smith to take a 5-2 lead. The run was significant not only because it turned out to be the deciding one, but because Houston relievers had not given up a run since May 5.


The astonishing scoreless string included 20 appearances and 23 innings. Until the seventh, Smith, Frank LaCorta, Vera Ruhle, Randy Niemann, Joe Sambito, and Joaquin Andujar last night's starter had given up 15 hits, no runs and struck out 18.


Smith went in to pitch the seventh for Sambito, who had bailed Andujar out of a first-and-third jam in the sixth by striking out pinchhitter Keith Moreland. Smith got Pete Rose to ground out harmlessly, but Bake McBride sent a rug-burning grounder through shortstop all the way to the wall in left-center for his second triple.


Smith walked Mike Schmidt intentionally, Greg Luzinski unintentionally, loading the bases for Bob Boone. Boone chopped a grounder just slow enough to force third baseman Enos Cabell to charge. He had no choice but to get the out at first while McBride was checking in with the run.


The Schmidt & Luzinski Run Factory Inc. manufactured a 2-1 lead in the third, Schmidt tripling home Rose, who had walked, and Luzinski singling in Schmidt. Larry Bowa and Manny Trillo were next in line, chasing Andujar, who now is 2-11 since last July 4, with a couple of RBI singles in the sixth.


Bowa, who left Wednesday's game with a strained muscle in his back and missed Friday's win over Nolan Ryan, celebrated his return to the lineup with two hits and two stolen bases. Luzinski began the sixth-inning proceedings with a one-out double. Boone walked before Garry Maddox hit into a fielder's choice, sending the Bull to third and bringing Bowa to the plate. Bowa promptly singled in Luzinski and Trillo followed with a grounder to deep shortstop that scored Maddox.


That made it 4-2 for reliever Tug McGraw, whose third save of the season came the hard way. McGraw, who replaced winning pitcher Kevin Saucier, ran into trouble in the eighth when he permitted Rafael Landestoy a single and Craig Reynolds a double. Both scored on ground balls, one by Terry Puhl to Bowa, the other by Jose Cruz to Rose.


McGraw, however, retired the Astros in order in the ninth, catching pinchhitter Jeff Leonard looking at a third strike to end the game.


Dan Larson, the righthander called up from Oklahoma City on Friday, arrived here late yesterday afternoon, barely three hours before he was to start for the Phillies. All things considered, Larson gave a decent account of himself, allowing just three hits and two runs in 5 innings.


Only one of the two mistakes he made cost a run. Larson gave Puhl a low fastball that Puhl turned into a two-out triple in the first. But Larson induced Cruz to ground out, ending the inning. Danny Walling benefited from another Larson fastball, depositing it over the right-center field wall for a home run.


After that, Larson began looking more like Don than Dan, pitching hitless ball until Landestoy opened the sixth with a scratch single to left. Landestoy stole second and went to third on Reynolds' ground ball to first base. With lefthanders Puhl and Cruz coming up, it was time to go to the bullpen, calling upon lefthander Saucier.


Saucier yielded a sacrifice fly to Puhl, tying the game at 2-2, and a double off the top of the wall in right-center to Cruz. So much for playing the percentages. Saucier, however, was able to avoid further damage, giving the Phils a chance to break the tie in their half of the sixth.