Camden Courier-Post - May 27, 1980
Bowa’s hit puts Phils in first
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – All things considered, it hadn't been a particularly bad night for Larry Bowa. Yes, the Phillies' shortstop had gotten clipped and cut in a chance meeting with someone's fist. But he gotten a couple of hits and drove in a couple runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Indeed, last night was not at all a bad one for Bowa, whose second hit provided the punch in a two-fisted 7-6 victory over the Bucs that put the Phillies ahead of the Pirates and in first place in the National League's East Division standings.
"It was," said Bowa, "a great game to win. It reminded me of all the games we've played with them."
THE PHILLIES came from a 5-1 deficit to beat Kent Tekulve, the Bucs' bullpen ace, after a bench-clearing brawl interrupted play in the sixth inning. Bowa, not a perpetrator, was unfortunate enough to get his mouth bloodied by an unidentified hand during the melee. The injury not withstanding, Bowa was around in the ninth to deliver his knockout blow and give the Phils the last laugh before a crowd of 45,394 in Veterans Stadium.
"Hopefully, it's, all over," he said, "There's too much talent on these teams for something like that to happen. It was just unfortunate. It can spark a comeback, but it can also spark the other team. A couple years ago, the Pirates were 11 out, we had a fight with them and they came on like gangbusters."
Tekulve had been called upon to protect a 6-5 lead in the ninth for starter Bert Blyleven, who went into the game having never beaten the Phils.
Mike Schmidt lit the fuse by sending Tekulve's first pitch into the leftfield corner for a leadoff double. Schmidt had ignited a fuse of a different sort in the third when he demonstrated unhappiness over what he thought was a Blyleven brushback pitch.
GREG LUZINSKI, another who felt a breeze from a Blyleven pitch, followed with a single that Pirate shortstop Tim Foil managed to keep in the infield, postponing temporarily the tying run from scoring. The Bull had already added to his ongoing tear with an RBI double in the seventh, and the two hits gave him 14 in his last 26 at bats.
Bob Boone, who is beginning to show signs that his hitting struggles are ending, quickly assured Blyleven would not get the decision with a double down the third base line that scored Schmidt and sent Lonnie Smith, pinchrunning for Luzinski, all the way to third.
With none out and first base open, the Bucs decided to walk Garry Maddox, who had three hits, two RBIs and a stolen base, and pitch to Bowa. And Bowa responded by singling cleanly through a drawn up infield between first and second.
"That one just found a hole," said Bowa. "He (Tekulve) got behind me, 3-1, so he had to give me something to hit."
THE HIT came at a particularly opportune time for the Phillies, who are once again staring serious pitching problems in the face. Righthander Larry Christenson was put on the disabled list Sunday and will undergo surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow. He could well be lost for the season.
Bob Walk was called up from Oklahoma City to replace Christenson and was, like Dan Larson before him, immediately put to work. Walk had good stuff, but not much control. He walked five, gave up a two-run homer in the first to Willie Stargell and left in the third down, 5-1.
"Sure, he gave up five runs and that looks bad in the stats," said Manager Dallas Green. "But it was a tough situation, pitching against the Pirates in front of 45,000 people."
Lerrin LaGrow kept the Pirates in check long enough for the Phils to make it 5-3 on a two-run homer by Maddox in the third. Kevin Saucier took over in the fifth and, in the sixth, brought chaos by hitting Blyleven with a pitch.
"WE WON the game and that's all I'm concerned about," Saucier later said, still shaken by the brawl that ensued. "It was a great game to win. What happened, happened."
What happened was Bowa managed to survive the fight to bat in the ninth and make his night not unpleasant at all.
PHIL UPS – Stolen base was Maddox' 200th career... Bucs got a run off Tug McGraw in the seventh to make it 6-3... Ron Reed got the win by working a perfect ninth... Phils have won five in a row, their longest winning streak of the year… Jim Bibby, who is scheduled to pitch against Steve Carlton tonight, injured his knee when he slipped on the dugout steps en route to joining the brawl.
Peace can be shaken when Phils play Bucs
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – Putting the Phillies and Pirates in the same ballpark can be as socially ungraceful as inviting Menachem Begin and Yasser Arafat to the same party. Left to their own devices, there's no telling how much havoc they'll wreak.
Maybe no one bothered to inform the National League office of the enmity that has passed between the Phils and Bucs the last few years. Or, perhaps it figured peace could be achieved through coexistence. Whatever, the schedule makers invited the two sides to meet 18 times in 1980, all but guaranteeing a rematch of last night's Veterans Stadium bout.
The Phils and Pirates went at each other in a brawl that cleared both benches and interrupted play in the sixth inning of what would ultimately be a stirring 7-6 Philly victory. By the time the dust had cleared, home plate umpire Doug Harvey had ejected the Pirates' Lee Lacey and Phillies pitching Coach Herm Starrette, and the players had exchanged more glares than two socialites wearing the same designer dress.
"This," Phillies Manager Dallas Green later said, "was one of the better (baseball fights) because we couldn't break the damn thing up. It went on and on. Poor Herm he just happened to be in there in the second or third go round when they (the umps) were trying to throw people out just to get things calmed down."
Trouble, never far from surfacing when these two intense East Division rivals meet, began bubbling in the third, when Pirate starter Bert Blyleven sent a telegram to Mike Schmidt's chin. Schmidt, unhappy with the news it brought, took a couple of steps toward the mound in reply. Both benches emptied, but order was quickly restored.
"He was probably trying to crowd him," said Green. "Schmitty took exception to it and Bull (Greg Luzinski) backed him up so I guess they thought he was doing a little headhunting."
"I don't know if he threw at Mike intentionally or not," said Starette. "The first time, I didn't think so. The second time, I thought he was trying to brush him back."
Retaliation was not long in coming, Kevin Saucier retiring the Bucs in the fifth and getting the first two outs of the sixth. With nobody on and Blyleven batting the opportunity was there. And Saucier took advantage of it, plunking Blyleven on the left hip with his first pitch.
Both benches again were cleared, but this time more than debate ensued. Blyleven and Saucier quickly squared off and exchanged punches before becoming engulfed by a mass of bodies. Amid the confusion. Pirates shortstop Tim Foli had his glasses pushed against his face, opening a cut above one eye, Larry Bowa had his mouth cut by an errant hand and Phils bullpen Coach Mike Ryan went after the entire Pirate team.
"I was surprised it happened," said Starette, "but if I have to tell one of my pitchers to brush somebody back, I don't want him. I don't want him throwing at anybody's head, but if one of our guys comes back to the dugout with dirt on the seat of his pants, then they have to go back that way to."
Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner didn't see it that way. "I can't read his (Saucier's) mind, but I'd say, yes, he tried to hit him (Blyleven). Saucier has got to hit (bat) someday."
Was that a warning?
"It's just what I said."
If Tanner was verbally challenging the Phils, Green seemed ready to accept it.
"We're pumped up just playing these guys," he said. "This just pumped us up more. I hate to see things like that, but we're not going to be intimidated.
"You got to be proud of your ballclub because, when these situations occur, you got to get together and go. They got that 'Fam-i-lee' thing over there, well, we got our own family over here. We worked hard during spring training to change the character of this ballclub. This showed we're not going to back off if we're challenged. We're not going to start fights, but we're not going to back off."
If there was a message to be read between the lines in all of this it was both clubs intend to slug it out – figuratively and literally – until one emerges the dominant force in the East.
It could turn out to be one of the best battles since Rocky Balboa last took on Apollo Creed.