Wilmington Morning News - May 30, 1980
Phillies ride NL coaster another dip
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA - Dick Ruthven joined the Phillies' All-Volunteer army yesterday.
The right-hander asked to face the world-champion Pittsburgh Pirates with only three days' rest in yesterday's matinee that wound up a four-game roller-coaster ride for first place in the National League East, which the Pirates have reclaimed.
It would be terrific to report that Ruthven earned the Medal of Honor for Manager Dallas Green's shell-shocked pitching staff, but he didn't.
In fact, he lost 5-4 in a surprisingly listless game by both sides. And none of the Phils' four runs off winner Eddie "Call me Buddy Jay" Solomon was earned.
Ruthven, however, wasn't buying any suggestions that the three days' rest contributed to the Bucs' unsettling three-run first inning.
"I felt better today than I did four days ago against Houston," Ruthven said of Sunday's 6-2 victory over the Astros. "One less day's rest didn't have anything to do with it. This was just a day when the Pirates put the bat on the ball and it landed where no one was standing.
"Listen, I'd rather beat the Pirates than the Cubs (Ruthven's original foe in today's Wrigley Field opener). So would the team. They're the world champs. I'm one of three starting pitchers we have left. I have to pitch when I can."
Green didn't seem that convinced, considering Ruthven allowed 11 hits in five innings.
"I didn't like what I saw in the first inning, if that's any indication," said Green of using his surgically repaired right-hander every four days, ala Steve Carlton. "That was the reason for the extra day's rest.
"Steve can handle the three-day thing. I may have to juggle the rotation till I get something I can live with. Pitchers don't like to get jumped around but I'll play it by ear and they'll have to understand it."
The teams traded three-run first innings, the Pirates getting their three on four straight hits and two walks, while the Phils got their three courtesy of an error.
Consecutive singles by Phil Garner, Dave Parker, Willie Stargell and Mike Easier put the Pirates ahead 2-0 before Ed Ott was intentionally 'walked to load the bases with two out.
But Ruthven unintentionally walked Dale Berra to force home the third run of the inning.
"If I could have done one thing different, I would've thrown that fourth ball to Berra one-half inch lower," said the pitcher, who argued with umpire Fred Brocklander on the call.
Berra repaid the favor by booting Pete Rose's leadoff grounder in the bottom of the first. A walk to Greg Gross and Greg Luzinski's high chopper to short loaded the bases against Solomon.
George Vukovich, playing right field while Bake McBride took the day off, got Rose home with a chopper to short that forced Luzinski at second.
Then Bob Boone, who is finally shaking off the negotiating blues and regaining his batting stroke, hopped a double over Parker's head in right to tie the game.
"I thought Dick pitched pretty decent baseball after the first inning," said Green. "He was undercutting his slider but Herm (pitching coach Starrette) made a suggestion and Dick pitched pretty well after that."
At least until the fifth when the Pirates bunched three more hits for their final two runs.
Bill Madlock singled and scored on Ott's double off the top of the wall in right center. Ott then scored on Berra's single to right, aided by Vukovich's off-line throw to the plate. A good throw would've had the runner by 10 feet.
"I didn't see anything wrong with the throw," said Green, though Vukovich took an extra step before throwing the ball on two plays and missed both runners.
The Phils got their fourth unearned run off Solomon in the seventh. Again Rose got on base via an error, this time Solomon's bullet past first base that was touched by a fan after Rose collided with first baseman Stargell.
Rose was dispatched to second base and moved to third on Gross grounder to the right side. Mike Schmidt, hitless in three at-bats, lined the ball to Parker in medium right.
Rose challenged Parker's super arm and beat the throw.
Despite the loss, the Phils still have won 11 of their last 16 games and don't seem to have their manager worried.
"I'm happy with the way we're playing," said Green. "We're not giving up when we get behind, we've been getting good pitching. There's no reason to be discouraged with a split with the Pirates. Sure, you'd like to sweep all four but this is early. There s still a long way to go."
And only a game between the world champions and the second-place Phillies. Act Two in this N.L. East drama begins Monday night in Pittsburgh with three more games.
Never a dull moment.
Yesterday's game notwithstanding.
EXTRA INNINGS - Enrique Romo, who pitched the last two innings for his second save, has given up just one earned run in his last nine appearances, covering 16 innings... His stuff's nasty," said catcher Ott. "I can sympathize with the hitters because sometimes even I don't know where it's going."... Bucs' Grant Jackson hasn't allowed a run in his last 11 outings (11.1 innings)... Lee Lacy, who batted just once yesterday, extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single to left off Tug McGraw... Dan Larson will pitch against Chicago's Rick Reuschel today at 2:30 in Wrigley Field, with Carlton vs. Lynn McGlothen tomorrow.