Reading Eagle - September 17, 1980
Pirates Beat Phils; Expos Don’t Help
PITTSBURGH (AP) – On September nights in seasons past, a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies would be all that really mattered in the National League East.
However, both sides confessed to scoreboard watching Tuesday night after the Pirates beat the Phillies 3-2 behind the three-hit pitching of Jim Bibby and Kent Tekulve.
It was for good reason because the Montreal Expos, leading the division, were sweeping a doubleheader from the Mets in New York. The victories boosted Montreal 2½ games ahead of the Phils and five in front of the Pirates.
“Yeah, I was looking at the scoreboard tonight. I looked for the first time,” admitted Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner. “But we have no control over that. We’ve just got to keep winning.”
“Sure, everybody does at this stage,” said Philadelphia’s Greg Luzinski. “With this many games to go, you’re always looking for a little help.”
The Pirates and Phils thought they were getting help early in the evening when the scoreboard showed the Mets leading the first game, but then came word that the Expos had rallied to win 5-3.
“You don’t even have to watch the scoreboard. You can tell from the crowd’s reaction. They go “Awwwww” or “Yea!” said Dave Parker of the Pirates.
“But we’ve to play the Phillies. We aren’t playing Montreal now. We can’t be looking ahead.”
Three Rivers Stadium was vacant by the time the Expos completed their sweep. But most of the Phils and Pirates undoubtedly got word of the Expos’ success before going to bed.
“As long as we keep winning, we force Montreal to keep winning” said Pirate catcher Ed Ott. “That’s all we can do.”
The Pirates have just two games left with the Expos, both here next Monday and Tuesday. The Phillies have six games left with Montreal, three at home and three on the road.
Meanwhile, the Pirates and Phillies conclude their season series here tonight. The Pirates have an 11-6 lead in games, and Pittsburgh is 7-1 at Three Rivers Stadium.
“It’s been a graveyard for us. That’s for sure,” Phils’ Manager Dallas Green said after Tuesday night’s defeat. “But we’ll play some offense tomorrow. We’ll be all right.”
Tuesday night’s game marked the 17th pitching triumph this season for Bibby and the 20th save for Tekulve – and both of those Pirate aces had been in a hole in recent weeks.
“Give Bibby credit. He pitched a good game,” said Luzinski. “It was a big game, and they got the outs when they needed them. They always play well at home.”
Bibby, 17-5, had lost three of four pitching decisions, and he had failed to pitch more than six innings in his last five starts.
But he had a two-hitter through eight innings before yielding a solo homer by Mike Schmidt in the ninth.
“If I win the rest of my starts, I’ll probably win 20 games, but that’s not the main thing on my mind right now,” said Bibby. “The main thing is the Pittsburgh Pirates winning ballgames.”
Tekulve notched his first save since Aug. 22. The Pirates had lost nine straight games in which Tekulve had pitched, and he had been 0-4 in that span.
“Hopefully now, I’ve got it back together,” Tekulve said, knocking on the wood of his locker stall. “The ball is at least moving the way I want it to, and that’s a step in the right direction.”
The Pirates took a 3-0 lead through three innings off loser Dick Ruthven with the aid of an RBI-double by Bill Madlock and run-scoring singles by Mike Easler and John Milner.
With a runner at second in the third inning, Parker made a diving catch of a drive to right by Pete Rose to deny the Phils a run. But they scored in the fourth on an RBI-single by Garry Maddox.
Bibby had retired 13 in a row until Schmidt led off the Philadelphia ninth with his 39th homer. Then Bibby allowed two walks.
After Maddox sacrificed the runners to third and second, Tekulve retired Larry Bowa on a first-pitch pop fly to shallow center.
“A little more patience in that situation would have helped,” Green said of Bowa’s pop-up. “Bowa has to chop the ball. It’s that simple.”
Bob Boone then popped out to second baseman Phil Garner to end the game.
“They didn’t do it tonight, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow,” said Green.
Tonight, the Phillies will pitch Steve Carlton, 22-8, against Bert Blyleven, 8-11.