Philadelphia Inquirer - May 3, 1980

Ruthven better as Phillies beat Dodgers by 9-5


By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer


Dick Ruthven's line in his last two outings looked like something out of the Life and Times of Boom-Boom Beck.


Twelve outs. Fifteen hits. Ten runs.


But last night at the Vet, Ruthven finally got his stuff together, lie threw six very decent innings at the Dodgers, left after two rain delays with a 5-2 lead, and should have had the pleasure of watching the Phillies' bullpen preserve his second win.


Not this time, folks. All Ruthven got out of the Phils' 9-5 victory over the Dodgers was the chance to go out next week and start again.


Ron Reed was sent on to get Ruthven home and, instead, got him a no-decision. Reed served up back-to-back doubles for one run in the seventh, walked the leadoff man in the eighth, grooved a two-run homer for Steve Garvey (21 RBIs, only 20 hits) and – whoops – it was 5-5.


But at that point the Phillies were saved from a very dour fate by the sheer unpredictability of that pitch known as the knuckleball.


Charlie Hough brought his version of the knuckler out of the Dodgers' bullpen in the bottom of the eighth, walked three batters, threw a wild pitch, gave up a two-run pinch single to Greg Gross and two RBIs to Bake McBride. Dickie Noles then survived a harrowing bases-loaded mess in the ninth to stop the Dodgers' 10-game winning streak.


But despite the comeback against that bullpen, despite homers by l.uzinski and Mike Schmidt, the big story of this game was still Dick Ruthven.


He started his evening by walking Davey Lopes. And that earned him some massive grumbling from a crowd weary of those horrifying box-score lines.


But Ruthven rebounded. He allowed just five hits. He kept the Dodgers from turning on their base-stealing machinery. And he might not have allowed any runs were it not for one Reggie Smith.


Smith, who is having a phenomenal year, homered in the third to generate one run, and doubled in the sixth, eventually producing another. Smith is leading the league in hits and has driven in runs in eight straight games.


But Ruthven otherwise was fine. His forte in recent years has been his knowledge of how to pitch as much as it was his Stuff. And he mixed it up, threw strikes and never let the Dodgers start one of those steamrollering line-drive festivals he has seen a lot of lately.


It would be an overstatement to say the performance saved Ruthven his spot in the rotation, because both Dallas Green and pitching coach Herm Starrette had insisted they had no plans to take him out of it. But Starrette also said the other day that there was no way Ruthven could stay in there if he kept getting battered.


At least Ruthven had some company in his pitching misery last night. Dodgers starter Rick Sutcliffe, the 1979 Rookie of the Year, hasn't exactly been Don Drysdale himself so far.


Sutcliffe started the game with a 6.86 earned-run average and failed for the fifth straight start to win his first game of the year.


He walked Garry Maddox with two outs in the first. Then Schmidt wrapped a 2-and-0 pitch around the foul pole in left for his fifth homer and a 2-0 Phillies lead.


The homer soothed a 3-for-20 streak for Schmidt. It was his eighth off the Dodgers in two seasons.


Sutcliffe got himself in more two-out trouble in the second. Ruthven started it with a single. Pete Rose reached first on catcher's interference. And McBride lined an RBI double into the right-field corner.


It was almost a two-run double. But Rose charged past a Lee Elia stop sign at third, got to the plate and found Mike Scosia down in his blocking crouch, like Jerry Sisemore on third-and-eight.


It took Scosia a while to make the tag as Rose was struggling to poke a foot around or through the catcher to touch the plate. He finally did, but ump Joe West ruled him out.


Still, it was 3-0. And in the Dodgers' 10-game winning streak, three runs was as many as anybody had scored off them. But L. A. also had a bunch of come-from-behind victories in that blitz, so this was not quite over.


Ruthven was one strike away from his first 1-2-3 inning of the year in the third. He had two outs and almost had Smith struck out on a 1-2 fastball. But Smith barely checked his swing, then ripped the next pitch just below the scoreboad in right-center.


Ruthven then survived the first rain delay (53 minutes). But he came out of it strong, even getting that elusive 1-2-3 inning in the fifth.


NOTES: Danny Ozark, who hits fungoes and everything in his new Dodgers coaching job, threw out his first Ozarkism of the season yesterday. Speaking on WCAU radio, Ozark said he still wants to manage and that the Dodgers know that. "They even put a stipulation in my contract that I'm welcome to leave any time," Oze said. Presumably, they don't have to say "please."... Ironically Ozark's No. 33 was formerly worn by Vic Davalillo.... Nino Espinosa threw on the sidelines before the game and looked good again.