Wilmington Morning News - September 12, 1980
Ruthven’s tightrope act keeps Phillies clinging to Expos’ heels
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
NEW YORK – Dick Ruthven is the first to admit it wasn't a masterpiece, but to the Phillies it looked like a Rembrandt.
Ruthven repeatedly, walked a tightrope last night as he pitched the Phillies to a 5-1 victory over the Mets at Shea Stadium.
"It was a scuffling performance on my part," said Ruthven, who now has a 7-3 lifetime record against the Mets. "I just couldn't do much with my breaking ball in the early innings, so I went with my fastball. I had pretty good pop on it."
Phillies manager Dallas Green liked the way things popped for Ruthven – and the club – last night.
"Dick gave us just what we needed tonight," added Green. "It was a professional job. He kept us close until our bats came around. To me, it was a great performance."
The triumph was the third in a row for the Phils and eighth straight at Shea. It enabled them to remain a half-game behind Montreal, a 5-4 winner over Chicago at Olympic Stadium.
Before the Phils exploded for three runs in the ninth against reliever Juan Berenguer, Ruthven nursed a 2-1 lead and the Mets were outhitting their visitors 8-3.
But a run-producing, ground-rule double by pinch-hitter Del Unser and Pete Rose's two-run single gave the Phils their best cushion of the night.
"I was looking for some more runs," said Green, who reluctantly pulled Ruthven. "I just had the feeling Unser would get a hit. If he is ever going to get a hit, it was going to be off Berenguer. No, there was nothing wrong with Ruthven."
After that, Green turned the ball over to Tug McGraw, the Mets' former matinee idol who was given a loud ovation by those remaining in the meager crowd of 6,376.
McGraw dug a hole for himself when he hit Hubie Brooks to start the ninth and, after Wally Bockman grounded out, Bill Almon singled, but Tug got the next two batters.
"I just wanted to make it exciting at the end," McGraw kidded. "That's all I was trying to do."
"You have to, be pleased the way Ruthven battled them tonight," said Green. "He was in trouble at times but worked out of it."
Ruthven, now 15-9, allowed eight hits during his eight innings and struck out eight, matching his season high. Mets' starter Ray Burris, who lasted seven innings, suffered his 11th loss compared to seven victories.
"Rufus has a lot of trouble with the mound here," said Green. "It's a high one and you have to pitch over a hump. He prefers a mound that is nice and smooth. I thought I was going to have to go out and get him in the fifth inning (when the Mets tied 1-1). It looked to me like he had lost it."
But Ruthven had few doubts.
"After that my breaking ball began to come," said Ruthven. "I could have gone out in the ninth; I wasn't that tired."
Rose, who came to this two-game series wearing an 0-for-10 collar, had two singles and each turned out to be important. He singled home the eventual winning run in the sixth when the Phils snapped a 1-1 tie, then came through with his clutch hit in the ninth.
Rose, who has seen his average dip below .290, says he is finally getting in a good groove again. He had a double Wednesday night to go with the two singles last night.
"I am hitting the ball hard, even the outs," he said. "That is what I judge my swing on."
Mike Schmidt's 38th homer of the year ruined a perfect game for Burris with two out in the fourth and, after the Mets tied the game in the fifth, the Phils jumped in front to stay in the sixth.
Burris, who combined with Neil Allen to blank the Phils 3-0 on April 21, retired the first 11 batters he faced before Schmidt crushed a 2-0 pitch, sending it high over the left-field fence. It was Schmidt's third homer this season at Shea.
Ruthven gave up four singles through the first five innings, working out of two-on jams in the first and third innings.
In the fifth, Bockman opened with a walk and Almon followed with a single to center. Burris, attempting to sacrifice the runners, bunted back to the mound and Ruthven threw Bockman out at third.
Rookie Mookie Wilson, who had three singles, ripped one to center to load the bases. Joel Youngblood then lofted a sacrifice fly to right and the Mets had ended a scoreless string of 24 innings.
The Phils snapped the 1-1 tie in the sixth. With one down, Ruthven doubled to right field. Rose followed with a sharp single to right, giving the Phils runners on first and third. Bake McBride's sacrifice fly to center scored Ruthven, who knocked the ball out of catcher Alex Trevino's glove on Wilson's throw to the plate.
The Mets sent a wave of hope through the crowd when Trevino singled with one out in the eighth, but Ruthven fanned Lee Mazzilli and Steve Henderson. The Phils' three-run rally in the ninth ended any faint hopes the New York fans had.
EXTRA POINTS – The Phils have two remaining games with the Mets on Sept. 24-25 at Veterans Stadium... Schmidt has batted safely in 18 of the last 22 games... The Phils open a four-game series with St. Louis tonight with a double-header at 5:35... Pete Vuckovich (10-9) and Al Olmsted (0-0) go against Bob Walk (10-4) and Nino Espinosa (3-5)... Olmsted is a lefthander who will be making his first major-league appearance. He was 10-5 at Springfield and 2-0 in the American Association playoffs... After 139 games last year, the Phillies were 69-69, in fifth place 13 games out of first.
Phillies would host playoff with Expos, travel for Pirates
NEW YORK (AP) - The Cincinnati Reds are the only team among the top six contenders that would not be home for one of the possible one-game playoffs in the event of two-way ties in the National League East and West Divisions.
The sites of the tie-breaking games, announced yesterday by NL President Chub Feeney, are Montreal at Philadelphia, Pittsburgh at Montreal and Philadelphia at Pittsburgh in the East and Houston at Los Angeles, Cincinnati at Houston and Cincinnati at Los Angeles in the West.
The sites were determined by the toss of a coin with all the participating clubs represented via a conference call. In the event of two-way ties, the games Would be played on Monday, Oct. 6, at 1 p.m. local time. If there is a three-way tie, an announcement of game sites and dates will be made later.