Galveston Daily News - October 11, 1980

Astros one win from spot in World Series


HOUSTON (UPI) – Joe Morgan, robbed of a game-winning hit by Garry Maddox in the eighth inning, tripled to lead off the 11th inning and Denny Walling followed with a sacrifice fly to score pinch runner Rafael Landestoy, enabling the Houston Astros to end a dramatic "Duel in the Dome" with a 1-0 victory Friday over the Philadelphia Phillies in the third game of the National League playoffs.


The triumph gave the Astros a 2-1 edge in the best-of-five series for the NL championship. Houston needs just one more victory to wrap up its first pennant in its 19-year history.


Morgan, who had a certain extra-base hit taken away from him in the eighth on a sparkling running catch by Maddox, connected off reliever Tug McGraw for a long drive that hit right fielder Bake McBride's glove near the right-center field wall and went for a triple. The Phillies intentionally walked Jose Cruz and pinch hitter Art Howe to fill the bases but Walling hit a fly ball to medium left field and Landestoy had no problem beating Greg Luzinski's off-line peg to the plate.


Despite the victory, however, the Astros suffered a severe loss as center fielder Cesar Cedeno suffered a broken ankle in the sixth inning when he tripped over first base while grounding into a double play.


Joe Niekro pitched the first 10 innings for the Astros, allowing six hits, but four times the Phillies left runners in scoring position and even had a man cut down at the plate in the third.


The Phillies' best shot came in the third when Pete Rose and McBride put together back-to-back singles to place runners on first and third with one out. Rose, however, was thrown out at the plate when he attempted to score on Mike Schmidt's grounder to third baseman Enos Cabell.


The Phillies wasted a leadoff double by Manny Trillo in the second as Niekro retired the next three batters on fly balls. On the last out of the inning, Cruz badly misjudged Bob Boone's line drive to left and had to jump in the air to make the catch.


Things were just as frustrating for the Astros in the early going as they were for the Phillies. The Astros also wasted a leadoff double, by Terry Puhl in the first, and couldn't deliver a run in the fourth either after a one-out triple by Cruz.


Actually, the Astros would have had a run in the fourth if it hadn't been for a fine defensive play by Rose at first. With two out, Luis Pujols hit a slow bouncer to third which Schmidt took on the short hop. Schmidt appeared to have trouble getting the ball out of his glove and his throw to first was in to the dirt, but Rose dug it out to nail Pujols by a half-step.


The Astros blew another chance in the sixth and, in the process, lost Cedeno. Cabell led off with a single and moved to second on Morgan's groundout. After Cruz was intentionally walked to load the bases, Cedeno hit into a double-play and broke his right ankle when he caught the inside of the base.


Puhl led off the Astros' eighth with a single and was sacrificed to second, bringing up Morgan. Philadelphia manager Dallas Green then replaced Dickie Noles, who had relieved starter Larry Christenson in the seventh, with his ace, McGraw. Morgan, however, almost foiled the strategy by lining what appeared to be an extra-base hit to right center. But Maddox made a sparkling, running catch and the Phillies got out of the inning when Dave Bergman flew out to right following an intentional walk to Cruz.


Niekro's most anxious moment came in the ninth. After he retired the first two batters, the knuckleballer hit Maddox with a pitch and the speedy outfielder stole second. Niekro walked Larry Bowa intentionally to pitch to Boone and, on a 3-2 pitch, Boone hit a long fly out to left-center to Cruz.


The Phillies' final threat came against winning reliver Dave Smith in the 11th when Maddox doubled with two out. Smith, however, walked Bowa intentionally and then struck out pinch hitter Del Unser to end the inning.