Syracuse Post-Standard - October 8, 1980

Luzinski 'Bulls' Home 3-1 Win For Phillies


By Hal Bock


PHILADELPHIA (AP) - It sounds like a minor adjustment, really, but it has made a world of difference to Greg Luzinski, home run hero of Philadelphia's 3-1 victory over Houston Monday night in the first game of the National League Championship Series.


Luzinski, built more like a linebacker than a left fielder, looks strong enough to squeeze the stitches right off a baseball. But his bat had been silent for much of the season and now he thinks he's figured out why.


"We had a long rain delay in Montreal last week," he said, "and I made some adjustments with my hands on the bat. I have a habit of going with too much right hand."


That's Luzinski's top hand on his bat and the result was beating the ball into the ground. So lie tried to change the pattern.


"I tried to make my the hall a little shorter and quicker," he said. "So far it's worked out pretty well."


The short, quick approach produced a two-run homer that turned this opening game around and gave the Phillies their first-ever playoff victory at home. "It's not only at home," said Luzinski. "We've had trouble in the playoffs, period. This was a big game for us for just that reason. These two at home are important and jumping out in front is especially good."


The Phillies were beaten in the NL playoffs in 1976-77-78 but Luzinski had been one of their better post-season hitters. The homer was his fifth in playoff action, tying him for second place behind Steve Garvey of Los Angeles, who has had six.


Houston had left Garvey and the Dodgers behind, beating Los Angeles in a West Division playoff Monday and (lien flying all night from the West Coast to the East. But until the homer, it was the Phillies who looked bleary-eyed, not the Astros.


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.