Wilmington Morning News - May 6, 1980
Carlton’s ‘friend’ crashes no-hit party
By Rod Beaton, Staff Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA – So many times he has knocked on the door as a no-hitter beckons from within. But every time he strides through the portal a base hit flies out.
Last night at the Vet, Steve Carlton came closer than ever to securing that one, elusive no-hit gem. For 7 innings, he baffled the Atlanta Braves with a fastball even more dazzling than his customary fire and a slider that nicked the edges of the plate.
The Braves were hitless. Only Jeff Burroughs (second inning) and Luis Gomez (sixth and eighth) reached base, coaxing walks from the 35-year-old, 6-foot-5 lefthander.
With four outs left, former-Phil Bill Nahorodny, blissfully unaware of Carlton's no-hit bid, stroked a two-out, line-drive single to center. Carlton settled for a 7-1, three-hit triumph.
Backed by two solo home runs from Mike Schmidt, supplemented by the Braves' shoddy fielding, Carlton lifted his record to 5-1. His ERA plunged to 1.84.
Manager Dallas Green and catcher Bob Boone are Carlton's designated diplomats, reviewing his efforts while Super Steve stews in the trainer's room. The Carlton spokesmen were zealous in their praise.
"He had such super stuff, I knew he was going to get it," said Green. "I feel bad for him. And I know he wanted the one-hitter when he missed that."
Carlton did not get the one-hitter, which would have given him seven, extending his modern National League record. Dale Murphy, who struck out in his first three trips, opened the ninth with a long homer to right. In one blow, Lefty lost the shutout, too.
"He had a real good fastball and an excellent slider," said Boone. "You could tell how good the fast ball was because they kept fouling it off."
A lot of Braves simply missed the serves entirely. Carlton struck out 11. Until Nahorodny singled in his second at-bat since entering the game in the sixth, only Chris Chambliss and Bruce Benedict managed hard outs.
Nahorodny admitted he was fortunate – in this case, truly dumb luck.
"I really wasn't aware of anything," said the stocky catcher who played out his option as a Phillies minor leaguer and was sold to the White Sox in a 1977 waiver deal. "I was just excited about getting into the game and trying to hold the Phillies close.
"I found out about it when I got to first base."
He got there by stroking a high, outside fastball back through the box, disappointing Carlton, the Phils and 26,165 fans.
"I was looking breaking ball on the outside part of the plate. His was slider so good, the best I've ever seen. I was lucky to pop it through the middle. You can't usually do that."
But Nahorodny, who caught Carlton several times over four years as a Phillie prospect, did it. This time a man who calls Carlton "a friend" spoiled Steve's party.
As tough a time as the Braves had with Carlton, they were just as befuddled by the balls hit to them. Lackluster fielding contributed to single Phils' runs in the first and second innings. Two errors opened the gates for the Phils' four-run fourth.
And in case the Braves starting eight got too down on itself, Schmidt was on hand to smack two 400-level homers to left off starter and loser Rick Matula (2-2).
Bake McBride got the Phillies going in the first, dropping a bunt down the third-base line. Larvell Blanks is manning third for the Braves while Bob Horner sits and bristles in the dugout doghouse.
Blanks plays third with little more elan than the pudgy Horner. He charged, slowly, and hit McBride with his throw.
Schmidt hit into a force, as Jerry Royster's anemic relay subverted a potential double play. Luzinski then powered a drive to right center that eluded Brian Asselstine and fell for an RBI double.
Opening the second inning, Chambliss slipped on Larry Bowa's line-hugging grounder past first. Bowa dusted himself off at third, after beating right fielder Dale Murphy's throw for a triple. Carlton singled him in.
Schmidt hit homer No. 7 to open the third, and capped a four-run fourth with No. 8. That poke wrested the major-league lead from Luzinski and Otto Velez of Toronto.
The Braves did their part with throwing errors by Chambliss and Royster on successive plays, helping two runs across.
PHILS FACTS - Schmidt's-second homer gave him 22 two-homer games. The team record is 23, by Chuck Klein... It was also the 243d of his career, tying Klein for second on the all-time list... And Schmidt extended his hitting streak to seven games... Boone fell into the Braves' dugout pursuing an eighth-inning foul by Luis Gomez. Had he caught it, Carlton would have been out of the inning. Gomez drew a walk before Nahorodny's hit, the Brave's first of the year... Put in for defensive purposes, George Vukovich dropped a simple pop to right in the ninth... Ramon Aviles replaced Luis Aguayo at second. Aguayo strained his right thigh in Sunday's game. He may have also strained Green's patience with some poor play afield... Tonight's 7:35 game matches the Braves' Doyle Alexander (0-1) and Dick Ruthven (1-2)... Tomorrow night features Phils' nemesis Phil Niekro (1-4) against Larry Christenson (2-0)… Phils pinch-hitting has been productive – 11 hits in the last 19 at-bats... Farmhand Bob Walk, a hard-throwing right-hander, has not yet allowed an earned run in 19 innings with the Phils' Triple A team.