Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - May 27, 1980

Phillies Wrestle First Place Away From Bucs


By Charley Feeney, Post-Gazette Sports Writer


PHILADELPHIA – The post-game fireworks display promised to the crowd at Veterans Stadium last night came early.


There was a rumble in the third inning, when Bert Blyleven brushed back Mike Schmidt with a shoulder-high fastball. There was a free-for-all after Kevin Saucier hit Blyleven in the side with a pitch in the sixth inning. And there was a second knockdown, wrestling battle shortly after it appeared that peace had been restored in the sixth inning.


It was a brawl game, first class. It was one whale of a baseball game, too. The Phillies, scoring two runs in the ninth inning off Kent Tekulve, defeated the Pirates, 7-6, before 45,394 fans.


The victory, the Phillies' fifth straight, moved them into first place ahead of the Bucs, who have lost three in a row and seven of their last 10. Statistics. Store them.


The brawls were the things the large crowd was sure to remember. They will remember the third inning when Schmidt, after being brushed back by Blyleven, pointed a finger at the Pirate pitcher and took a step toward the mound. Plate umpire Doug Harvey stopped Schmidt as the players from both dugouts strolled near home plate. Nobody, except Schmidt, appeared angry.


When Saucier hit Willie Stargell in the back with a pitch in the fifth, there was no incident. Stargell had hit a two-run homer off rookie Bob Walk in the first inning.


Blyleven, leading, 5-3, when he came to bat with two out in the sixth, might have been thinking that he would finally win his first game of the decade. He had been unsuccessful in seven starts in a split season. He opened the season with the Pirates, quit the team on April 30, returned on May 9, but continually insists that he does not like the way his manager, Chuck Tanner, handles him.


Few of Blyleven's teammates sided with him when he jumped the club. Last night, there was Pirate unity after Blyleven was hit by Saucier's pitch. Blyleven tried to pick up the baseball, apparently to fire it back to Saucier. Harvey grappled with Blyleven, grabbing his right arm. By this time, players from both benches were on the field, and, this time, they were angry.


There was a mob scene on the mound, and it seemed that some Pirate tackled Saucier. The scramble lasted about five minutes.


"I thought we had things under control," Harvey was to say later.


The best brawl was yet to come. According to Harvey, Pirate utilityman Lee Lacy started shouting at an unidentified Phillie.


"I told Lacy to stop trying to instigate things," Harvey said. "He was cursing, and I threw him out of the game. The next thing I knew, Herm Starrette (Phillies pitching coach) was shouting at someone, and I told him to stop instigating. He kept yelling, and I threw him out of the game."


Harvey said he did not notice some Pirates jawing with Mike Ryan, the Phillies' bullpen coach who once played for the Bucs. According to Lacy and Bill Madlock, Ryan started the biggest fight of the evening. After it ended, some players were seen rubbing their faces where they had been hit by punches.


"Somebody socked me in the face," Phillies shortstop Larry Bowa said.


"It was Ryan's fault," Lacy said. "He ran into a pile of players and started kicking everyone, even his teammates."


"Ryan. It was him," said Madlock. "Who is he? I never heard of him."


"I didn't kick anyone," Ryan said. "As a coach, I was trying to be a peacemaker. Some of the Pirates, two or three of them, started pointing at me. I said OK, if you want a piece of me, try me."


Phillies Manager Dallas Green said Ryan responded to some curse words directed at him.


Saucier, who earlier said he had no comment, later said: "I'm just glad we won. That's the main thing."


Blyleven, grim-faced, walked past newsmen in the clubhouse when they attempted to ask for his side of the fight.


Tanner said he thought Saucier purposely hit Blyleven.


Harvey said that, under the rules, he could not eject Saucier for hitting Blyleven.


"I must give a pitcher a warning first," Harvey said. "I would've warned Saucier even if the pitch had not hit Blyleven. Blyleven's pitch to Schmidt earlier was a legitimate brushback. A pitcher has the right to move a batter off the plate."


Blyleven, who was 0-6 in his first two seasons against the Phillies, managed to make enough mistakes on the mound to get himself in trouble.


The Pirates, with two in the first inning and three in the third, gave Blyleven a 5-1 lead. It became 5-3 in the bottom of the third when Garry Maddox hit a two-run homer. After the sixth-inning fight, the Pirates made it 6-3 in the seventh on Stargell's sacrifice liner off Tug McGraw.


Greg Luzinski's RBI double in the seventh shaved the lead to two runs, and Manny Trillo's RBI single in the eighth cut it to one run and knocked out Blyleven. Grant Jackson pitched out of the eighth and Tekulve, who had been rested in the three-game weekend series against the San Francisco Giants in Pittsburgh, faced the heart of the Phillies' batting order in the ninth.


He did not retire a batter as he suffered his third straight loss.


Schmidt lined a double to left and Luzinski singled behind the second-base bag. Bob Boone's single tied the game at 6-6 and, after Maddox was given an intentional walk to fill the bases, Bowa bounced a hit to right to end it.


The post-game fireworks began, but most of the fans were celebrating the victory.


NOTES – Don Robinson, scheduled to start for the Pirates tomorrow night, has been having problems with his teeth. He is taking medication and hopes the pain ease enough for him to remain in the rotation.