Wilmington Evening Journal - May 28, 1980

Bucs ‘Hit Man’ guns down Phils in 13th


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA – Dallas Green rolled the dice last night and they came up snake eyes.


The Phillies' manager had a decision to make in the 13th inning: pitch to pinch-hitter Ed Ott and take is chances or walk Ott, get reliever Enrique Romo out of the game and go after another pinch hitter, Mark Easler?


Green chose the latter and lost.


Easler roped a single to right field to score Bill Madlock from second base in the 13th and the Pittsburgh Pirates walked off the field with a 3-2 conquest of the Phillies at Veterans Stadium.


The Phillies had sent a murmur of hope through the crowd of 35,489 when Mike Schmidt blasted a dramatic two-run homer in the ninth to tie a game the Phils never had a strong hold of.


"I really felt when Schmitty homered we were going to win it," said Green in the quiet clubhouse. "That gave us the momentum we needed."


The Pirates, however, have two of the best relievers in baseball and one of the best benches in the National League. Manager Chuck Tanner reached back and came up with the correct combination.


In the end, it was Tanner's decision in the 13th that gave the Pirates the victory to end a three-game losing streak.


Bill Madlock opened the inning with a shot back to the mound that bounced off Dickie Noles' leg. The young reliever had trouble finding the ball at his feet and when he did, he could not get a hold of it.


Lee Lacy sacrificed Madlock to second and after Phil Garner fanned and Green elected to walk Ott, Tanner had to decide whether to leave Romo in the game or send up another pinch hitter.


Tanner snowed why the Pirates are world champions.


He sent up his "Hit Man," and seconds later the Pirates had ended the Phillies' five-game winning streak.


"I have a strong bench and we won last year by utilizing all our players," said Tanner. "I put somebody up there who can crack the ball. Plus, I had Kent Tekulve ready in the bullpen."


But the night before Tekulve had caved in as the Phillies stormed from behind to win 7-6. Last night he stalked to the mound in the 13th and one-two-threed the Phils.


"I had to try and win it right there, with runners on first and second and two out," added Tanner. "It was my only move."


And Green's only move was to walk pinch-hitter Ott no matter what Tanner did.


"Over the years Ed Ott has murdered us," said Green. "I'd rather pitch to Easler than Ott. Besides, we got Romo out of the game."


Romo pitched a perfect 13th, striking out Schmidt and Greg Luzinski, to gain the victory. Tekulve got his sixth save.


"They call me 'Hit Man' and I think that's good," said Easler, who has three pinch hits in nine at-bats. "You know, you're supposed to come in and get the big hit. I've never faced Dickie Noles before, but I know he has a slider and curve. He threw me a slider down, a good pitch. I watch the pitcher and try to get some idea of what he throws, then go up there aggressive and try to pick up the ball out of his hand."


"Yeah, it was a good pitch," agreed Noles. "Easler swings the bat real good. Give him credit. That wasn't the key, though. I should have fielded that ball Madlock hit. I didn't know where it was at first, then when I found it, I couldn't get a handle on it. I overreacted."


The Pirates, who moved back into first place in the National League East by a full game over the Phils, took advantage of shoddy fielding to take an early 2-0 lead against Steve Carlton.


With one down in the first, Tim Foli reached first on shortstop Larry Bowa's throwing error. He stole second and scored on Madlock's single to left.


In the fourth, with one out, Lee Lacy tripled off the wall in left field and Garner was walked intentionally. Steve Nicosia hit a smash to Schmidt that looked like an easy double play, but Manny Trillo's throw to first hit Garner's arm and the runner was safe at first.


Jim Bibby was working on a five-hit shutout when he walked Bake McBride with one out in the ninth. Schmidt then blasted a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left and it was tied.


EXTRA POINTS - Carlton fanned 11 batters for the third time this year... The Phils hit into four double plays, including one by Pete Rose in the 11th with a runner on first and nobody out... The Pirates were shouting at home-plate umpire Andy Olsen most of the night and he eventually ejected pitcher John Candelaria... The Pirates are 6-2 in extra-inning games; the Phils are 0-2... Easler's first two pinch hits were homers... Carlton leads the National League with 80 strikeouts... Randy Lerch, who has not pitched since May 18, goes against ion Robinson tonight... Rick Ruthven faces Eddie Solomon tomorrow afternoon at 12:35... Luzinski's seven-game hitting streak came to an end.