Annapolis Capital - October 9, 1980

Astros Topple Phils


Nickels and dimes add up


By The Associated Press


PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Houston Astros nickel-and-dime attack looked like a million dollars in the 10th inning Wednesday night as they evened their best-of-five National League Championship series against the Philadelphia Phillies at one game apiece.


Houston, recognized by many as the anonymous Astros, snapped a 3-3 tie with four l0th-inning runs for a 7-4 victory.


The Astros got what they came for, a split in the two games at Philadelphia, and now go home to their Astrodome where they were 55-26 in 1980. They'll have their best pitcher, Joe Niekro, 20-12, working the third game Friday.


But the home field advantage doesn't necessarily give the underdog Astros a big edge, since the Phillies this season were one of the best road clubs in baseball. Philadelphia won 21 of its last 28 road games and posted a 48-33 away record enroute to the NL East Division title. They were 4-2 in the Dome while compiling a 9-3 regular-season record against Houston.


Larry Christenson, 5-1, is scheduled to pitch for the Phillies Friday in an effort to set up a potential pennant-winning situation for its 24-game winner. Steve Carlton, on Saturday.


The Astros had just five hits going to the 10th inning and still managed to hold tight in a 3-3 game. The Phillies had 12 hits at that point.


But in the 10th against reliever Ron Reed, Houston erupted for those four runs, and then turned back an abbreviated rallyby the Phillies, who left 10 runners on base
over the last four innings.


Terry Puhl, who drove in the first two Houston runs, opened the 10th with a single. He was sacrificed to second by Enos Cabell. Joe Morgan was intentionally walked loading the bases, bringing up Jose Cruz.


Cruz singled to right, scoring Puhl, and Morgan came home on a fielder's choice grounder by Cesar Cedeno. Then Dave Bergman, who was inserted for defensive purposes in the eighth, drove a two-run triple in the right-center field gap for two more runs and it was all over.


The Phillies did throw a scare into Manager Bill Virdon and his Astros in the last of the 10th, scoring one run and bringing Mike Schmidt to the plate with two on and two out. The NL's home runand RBI-leader, however, flied out to right field to end the game.


Asked if he considered it a must game, Virdon replied, "Not really. But it is a pleasure to go home with a victory."


Houston took a 1-0 lead in the third off Phillies starter Dick Ruthven, when the right-hander walked .226 hitter Craig Reynolds, who was sacrificed to second by Houston starter Nolan Ryan, and scored on Puhl's single.


The Phillies, however, went ahead 2-1 in the fourth when Schmidt opened with a double and scored on Greg Luzinski's two-bagger. Luzinski was sacrificed to third and raced home on Garry Maddox' single.


Houston tied it in the seventh on a walk to Ryan and Puhl's double, and went ahead 3-2 in the eight as Morgan doubled and scored on Cruz' single.


The Phillies came back in the bottom of the inning when Luzinski singled in the eighth. Lonnie Smith ran for Luzinski, and reached second on a sacrifice bunt. Maddox again came through with a runscoring single.


The Phillies had a big chance to win in the last of the ninth as Bake McBride lashed a one-out single. Schmidt also singled, McBride stopping at second. Smith then singled to right, and McBride rounded third, but held up after going part way home.


McBride appeared to have a chance to score, but he said he was held up by third base Coach Lee Elia.


Elia said, "There was a little delay on his (McBride's part), but it was no fault of Bake McBride's. My hands went up as if to say stop and at the same time I said, 'no come on'. He saw my hands go up and stopped."


Phillies Manager Dallas Green said he wasn't worried about having to win two in the Astrodome.


"We were in the same position in Montreal and we didn't do too badly up there," said Green, referring to the Phillies' two-out-of-three conquest that wrested the East title from the Expos.


"We've played down there before you know. It's not as if we're doing something completely new ... Check our road record for the month of September. We haven't done too badly," Green said.