Corpus Christi Times - October 8, 1980

Phillies finally win a playoff game at home


PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The first 64 years are always the toughest.


If you don't believe that axiom ask the Philadelphia Phillies.


Greg Luzlnski's two-run homer in the sixth inning triggered the Phillies to their first post-season victory at home since Grover Cleveland Alexander beat the Boston Red Sox in the 1915 World Series.


The Phillies beat the Houston Astros 3-1 Tuesday night In the first of their best-of-five National League Championship series for a ticket to the World Series.


The Phillies had lost nine straight post-season games at home, including one in that 1915 Series, two in the 1950 World Series to the New York Yankees and six in divisional playoffs in 1976, 1977 and 1978.


Steve Carlton, the Phillies' 24-game winner, was credited with the victory although he wasn't as overpowering as during the regular season.


Still, Carlton worked seven innings and allowed just one run.


"He wasn't the Steve Carlton we've seen in the past," said Phillies' manager Dallas Green. "But that's why Lefty is such a great pitcher. He wins without his best.


"He lets them hang on the bases," Green said, referring to the seven Astros stranded in the first four innings.


Green lifted Carlton for a pinchhitter in the seventh despite a 2-1 lead. The Phillies had a runner on third and two out.


"I just felt he (Carlton) was a little sluggish. There was no use wasting him with the 'chief’ in the bullpen," said Green.


The "chief” was reliever Tug McGraw, who had four wins and three saves in September and one victory and two saves this month in the Phillies' drive to the NL East title.


McGraw came in and retired six of seven batters to save the game for Philadelphia.


McGraw was asked how much he could pitch since he's been out there almost every day for a month.


“I'm not ready to fall out of the tree," replied the zany lefthander. "I feel fine physically."


McGraw said he had a lot of confidence in himself right now, but not so much that he'd let it eat him up.


"I think going out there every day breeds fun and enthusiasm not cockiness," McGraw said.


Luzinski's home run came on a two pitch and landed high in the first tier of seats in left field. It was the only hit of the game for the Phillies' outfielder, who has struggled most of the season.


"I usually slump in September, but for some reason get charged up in the playoffs," said Luzinski, who has had hits in all 12 of the Phillies' playoff games.


The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on singles by Jose Cruz, Cesar Cedeno and a two-out base hit by rookie Gary Woods, that both Manny Trillo and Green said the second baseman grabs 99 of 100 times.


Astros' pitcher Ken Forsch held onto the slim lead until the sixth when Pete Rose opened with an infield single, Bake McBride struck out and Mike Schmidt flied out.


Forsch then went to 3-2 on Luzinski and boom. The ball flew out of the ball park for a 2-1 Phillies' lead. The Phillies added an insurance run in the seventh on Garry Maddox' single, a sacrifice bunt from Larry Bowa, Maddox' steal of third and a slicing single to left by pinchhitter Greg Gross batting for Carlton.


The disconsolate Forsch went the distance, allowing eight hits, striking out five and walking just one. He said of the pitch to Luzinski, "It was down lower than I wanted it. He was able to extend his arms. I challenged him with a fastball and he hit it."


Houston manager Bill Virdon refused to use the Astros all night flight as an excuse. The Astros came from Los Angeles where they beat the Dodgers in a one-game playoff Monday for the West Division title.


"I don't think that had much effect," said Virdon. "We played well. We just got beat.”


The Astros will pitch Nolan Kyan (11-10) in the second game of the series tonight. The Phillies plan to use righthander Dick Ruthven (17-10).


Ryan said tonight's game is important for Houston since a split would send them home to the Astrodome all even and the Phillies would have to win two of three to capture the NL pennant.


The Phillies are 4-2 this year in the Dome, and took the season series from the Astros 9-3. They're not planning on wailing another 64 years to win a post-season home game.