Galveston Daily News - October 9, 1980

Houston shoots by falling Phillies 7-4


PHILADELPHIA (UPI) – Jose Cruz, Houston's unheralded power source, singled home Terry Puhl with the tie-breaking run in the top of a four-run 10th inning Wednesday night, enabling the Astros to even their National League playoff series against Philadelphia at one game apiece with a 7-4 victory over the Phillies.


The best-of-five series switches Friday afternoon to Houston, where all remaining games will be played. Philadelphia won four of the six games between the team during the regular season in the Astrodome. Larry Christenson will pitch for the Phils against knuckleballer Joe Niekro.


A playoff-record crowd of 65,476 watched Cruz drive in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to give Houston a 3-2 lead and then bounce a single through the right side of the infield to deliver Puhl in the 10th for a 4-3 lead.


Puhl led off the 10th with his third hit of the game, a sharp single to right, and was sacrificed to second by Enos Cabell. Joe Morgan was intentionally walked and Cruz, a 33- year-old native of Arroyo, Puerto Rico, delivered Puhl. Morgan took third on the throw to the plate and Cruz went to second when right fielder Bake McBride's throw eluded catcher Bob Boone.


After Rafael Landestoy ran for Morgan, Cesar Cedeno produced an insurance run by hitting a fielder's choice grounder to Larry Bowa, who failed in an attempt to get Landestoy at the plate. Kevin Saucier then replaced Reed and allowed a two-run triple to Dave Bergman.


The Philadelphia fans, knowing only too well that the Phillies have never won a postseason series and must now win 2-of-3 in Houston, began leaving by the thousands. One of them, however, did take time to throw what appeared to be a golf ball toward the center of the mound.


Frank LaCorte, the fourth Houston pitcher, worked out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth but was taken out with none out in the 10th after the first two runners reached base and he went 2-0 on pinch-hitter George Vukovich. Joaquin Andujar came on to get the final three outs to preserve LaCorte's victory. Philadelphia's fourth run scored in the inning of a throwing error by shortstop Craig Reynolds. Ron Reed, the third of four Philadelphia pitchers, took the loss.


The final out came when Mike Schmidt flied out deep to right on a 3-0 pitch.


Cruz, a left fielder, might rate as a leading MVP candidate if he played in a city with more media attention. Besides batting .302, he was one of the top run producers in baseball, driving in 91 runs and scoring another 79 during the regular season. Cruz also stole 36 bases to add both power and speed to what is generally recognized to be a nickel-and-dime offense for the Astros.


The Phils tied the score 3-3 in the eighth with Garry Maddox, quietly making his case after a long dispute with Manager Dallas Green, singling in the tying run. Greg Luzinski led off with a single and pinch-runner Lonnie Smith moved to second on Manny Trillo's second sacrifice of the game.


Maddox then lined a single to center to score Smith and took second on the throw to the plate. After Bowa received an intentional walk, the runners were stranded when Bob Boone struck out and pinch-hitter Del Unser flied out to left.


Houston snapped a 2-2 tie in the top of the eighth, giving reliever Tug McGraw his first rough outing since the beginning of September. Morgan, revitalized by an injection into his aching left knee, lined a double to right-center and Cruz delivered him with a single.