Chicago Tribune - October 4, 1980

Dodgers and Phillies duck the bullet


Dramatic homers win for both


From Tribune Wire Services


TWO HOME RUNS, hit a continent apart, pushed the champagne, corks farther into the bottles and chilled the hopes of the Montreal Expos and Houston Astros, who could have wrapped up their division titles with victories.


In Montreal, a couple of hours before the Dodgers' Joe Ferguson drilled a dramatic 10-inning leadoff homer in Los Angeles to stun the Astros 3-2, Mike Schmidt provided everything the Phillies needed with a sacrifice fly and his 47th home run to edge the Expos 2-1, denying them the one win they heeded to take the National League East title.


Now it's the Phils who can finish on top with their sixth straight win on Saturday.


In the other race still alive, rain in New York and Baltimore kept the Orioles alive in the American League East for another day and staved off what looked like a defeat for the Yankees. Baltimore and Cleveland never got off the ground, but the Tigers had a 4-0 lead with two on in the top of the fifth when the game was washed out after a 50-minute delay. Both will play double-headers Saturday.


The Dodgers, who need a three-game sweep to force a one-game playoff with Houston, moved to within two games of Houston with Saturday and Sunday games left in their season-ending series.


Ferguson's homer, his 9th, came off Ken Forsch [12-13], who went the distance for the Astros.


AFTER HOUSTON took a 2-1 lead in the 8th inning on Alan Ashby's sacrifice fly, the Dodgers tied the score in the bottom of the ninth on a two-out RBI single by Ron Cey. Rick Monday started the 9th-inning rally with a single, his third hit of the night and then Astro second baseman Rafael Landestoy booted Dusty Baker's slow roller, putting runners at first and second.


Steve Garvey flied to center, but then Cey singled through the middle, scoring pinch-runner Rudy Law to tie the score.


After that it was all Ferguson.


"That was definitely the biggest home run of my career but it's only the first leg of what we have to do," he said. "I knew it was going out as soon as I hit it. I think it was a fastball high, but who can remember after one like that? I hope if we ever had momentum we've got it now. We've got a lot going for us. We've had a lot of guys hurt, but it doesn't count now.


"I think this is the most emotional game I've ever been involved in."


Cey also tried to keep the game in perspective.


"Right now the only thing that's important is tomorrow's game," he said.


ALTHOUGH THE Phillies had turned the tables on Montreal, they played it as low-keyed as the Dodgers.


"There's a lot of good baseball still to be played," said a somber Schmidt after knocking in both Philadelphia runs with his sacrifice fly in the first inning and the homer in the sixth.


"There's still all that pressure. I have to admit I was nervous. The Expos say they are relaxed, but not me. But I like to be nervous. When the butterflies stop jumping in my stomach and the adrenalin stops pumping, I'd better get out of this game."