October 8, 1980 - Frederick News
Phils Win Opener, 3-1
Luzinski's Homer Beats Astros
By the Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Greg Luzinski, battling a near season-long slump, hammered a huge, two-run homer that carried the Philadelphia Phillies to a 3-1 victory over Houston in Tuesday night's opening game of the 1980 National League Championship series.
Luzinski's sixth-inning shot off Ken Forsch erased a 1-0 Astro lead and set off fireworks over Veterans' Stadium as a playoff-record crowd of 65,277 howled.
The second game in the best-of-five series will be played Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
Forsch had been locked in a tight duel with Steve Carlton, ace of the Phillies' staff, but after Luzinski's homer gave Philadelphia the lead, it fell to relief ace Tug McGraw to nail down the victory.
Carlton struggled through the Astros' seventh, allowing two hits. A neat pickoff throw by catcher Bob Boone short-circuited the Houston rally and then, in the bottom of the seventh. Phillies Manager Dallas Green lifted his top starter for a pinch-hitter.
It was a bold move that paid off when Greg Gross stroked an RBI single to left, giving Philadelphia a 3-1 lead.
The rest was up to McGraw, and the veteran left-hander preserved the victory, retiring the last three Houston batters in order after walking leadoff man Luis Pujols in the ninth.
Carlton, carrying Cy Young credentials that include 24 regular-season victories and a major league-leading 286 strikeouts, was shaky early in the game.
Houston left two runners on base in each of the first two innings and then nicked Carlton for a run in the third.
With one out, Jose Cruz lined a single off Carlton's glove. The ball was hit so hard it rolled almost all the way to first base. Cesar Cedeno followed with a single to center, moving Cruz to second.
After Art Howe flied out. Gary Woods drilled a 2-2 pitch off second baseman Manny Trillo's glove, scoring Cruz. It was the second hit of the game for Woods, who spent the 1980 season in the Pacific Coast League and had played just 18 games for the Astros after being purchased from Tucson on Aug. 30.
Armed with the lead. Forsch was brilliant. He allowed a leadoff single to Pete Rose in the third, but catcher Pujols called for a pitchout on the next pitch and gunned Rose out on an attempted steal.
The next eight Philadelphia hitters went down in order as Forsch used the entire strike zone. He pitched in, out, up and down and had the Phillies clearly off balance.
In the sixth. Rose led off again and drove a ball deep in the hole at shortstop. Craig Reynolds ran it down and tried to throw him out, but Rose beat the play. But this time, Rose stayed close to first base.
Forsch struck out Bake McBride and got Mike Schmidt, the major leagues' home run leader, on a fly to center. That brought up Luzinski, who had struggled to a .228 batting average this season and spent better than a month sidelined by surgery on his right knee.
Forsch had handled the Phillies' left fielder easily in his first two at-bats, striking him out and getting him on a pop fly. This time, the count went to 3-2 and the man Philadelphia fans call "The Bull" jumped on an inside pitch and sent it on a line into the first deck in left field, beyond th« 371-foot sign.
Suddenly the Phillies had the lead and it was sweet vindication for Luiinksi, mired in a deep slump for most of the summer.
The Astros tried to come right back at Carlton in the seventh. Forsch, batting for himself, opened with a single. Rafael Landestoy went up to bunt and when he failed, Forsch was caught leaning toward second. Boone gunned his throw to Trillo, trapping the pitcher off first. With two out, Enos Cabell banged a hit off Schmidt's chest at third base, but Carlton got Cruz on a grounder, ending the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, Garry Maddox opened with a single. Larry Bowa sacrificed, bringing up Boone, the No. 8 hitter in the Phillies' lineup. The Astros chose to pitch to him and the gamble worked when Forsch got him in on a fly to left.
Now the strategy was up to Green and the Philadelphia manager went to a pinch-hitter for Carlton. Gross was the choice and Maddox stole third. Then Gross looped a single to left, for Philadelphia's third run.
With Carlton gone, it was McGraw's turn. The left-handed reliever, who had been close to unhittable down the stretch, mowed the Astros down, yielding only a leadoff walk in the ninth. When he finished off Landestoy on a grounder to second, it sealed the first home playoff victory in history for the Phillies.
As he came off the field, McGraw traded handslaps with the "Phillies Phanatic" who led cheers throughout. Both bad earned that brief celebration.