Wilmington Morning News - September 17, 1980
Phils lose again in Three Rivers tomb
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
PITTSBURGH – It's difficult to believe the Phillies won their third National League Eastern Division championship on a Saturday afternoon in Three Rivers Stadium.
Look back over the years and very little good has happened to them in the playground the Pirates call home.
Three Rivers continued to be a graveyard for the Phils last night as their run at first-place Montreal in the East Was stalled by Pittsburgh 3-2.
"It was a big game," said the Phils' Greg Luzinski. "They got the outs when they needed them. They played well, but they always play well at home."
The Pirates scored a run in the second, added two in the third and then turned the night over to Jim Bibby, who was untouchable until the Phillies threatened to pull it out in the ninth.
Bibby, Pittsburgh's winningest pitcher – he's now 17-5 – allowed the Phils just three hits and one of those was Mike Schmidt's 39th homer leading off the ninth inning. Before that, the big right-hander had retired 13 in a row.
Following the homer, Bibby walked Luzinski and pinch-hitter Del Unser, so Manager Chuck Tanner called on Kent Tekulve.
After Garry Maddox put down a perfect sacrifice bunt, Tekulve got Larry Bowa on a fly to center and Bob Boone on a fly to right and the 22,239 fans headed for the exits convinced the third-place Pirates are on their way to a comeback.
"Bibby pitched great. This was the best game in a long time for him. And it was great to see Teke get in there and do the job like that," bubbled Tanner.
Ruthven, who worked seven innings before newcomer Sparky Lyle took over, suffered his 10th loss against 15 victories.
Since 1970, the Phils have a 30-68 record here. Last night's loss was the fifth straight at Three Rivers and seventh in eight games. The only victory this year was turned in by Steve Carlton on June 4. The Phils were 1-8 here in 1970 and 1977.
Moves made by Manager Dallas Green in the ninth inning opened the floodgates for Eress box second-guessers and left many of is players grousing.
After Luzinski walked on four pitches, rookie speedster Jay Loviglio was sent in to run. Bibby then walked Unser on four pitches and the wheels began to turn. Tekulve, victim of the Phils' outburst when they won 5-4 in 13 innings last Tuesday night in Philadelphia, was summoned.
After Maddox sacrificed Loviglio to third and pinch-runner Bob Dernier to second, it came down to the sinkerballer against Bowa.
"I had to think about the squeeze because they used that in Philadelphia (Boone's bunt won the game in the 13th)," said Tekulve, who gained his 20th save and first since Aug. 22. "Even with that on our minds, I had to pitch Bowa as a regular, batter. I just wanted to keep the ball away from him."
Bowa, who stepped out of the batter's box to have the sign from Coach Lee Elia repeated, lofted Tekulve's first pitch to center. As it turned out, Loviglio could have scored because Omar Moreno's throw was off-target, but the Phils did not gamble.
Now, it was down to Boone, a .226 hitter who had had no success in three previous at-bats. Boone lofted a 1-2 sinker and the game was over.
Green had little to say about his strategy.
"Bowa hit a chopper over first base last week that scored two runs off Tekulve," said the manager. "I wanted him to do the same thing tonight. No, I didn't think about the squeeze. We needed two runs, not one. When you go after two, I guess you're a little tighter. As for letting Boone bat, he's fourth on this team with runs batted in and has six game-winners."
But not last night. The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the second on back-to-back doubles by Mike Easier and Bill Madlock and never looked back.
The Phils had a chance to pull even in the top of the third, but Dave Parker's diving catch of Pete Rose's sinking liner with Bowa on second ended the inning.
"I didn't see the ball until the last second," said Parker. "I lost it in the lights, but it came out just in time for me to get it. This is 1979 Pirate baseball you saw tonight. We're on the move."
The Pirates made it 3-0 in the third and it was obvious it was going to be a long night for Ruthven. With one down, Tim Foli singled to center and stopped at second on Parker's sharp single to right. Easier brought Foli home with a single to right and Parker scored on John Milner's two-out double to right-center.
The Phils scored a run in the fourth, but Bibby got out of further trouble when Boone hit a soft liner to right with the bases loaded.
"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 ball games."
With one down, Schmidt walked and advanced to second when Luzinski was hit by a pitch. Manny Trillo lined to right, but Maddox's broken-bat bloop dropped in shallow center as Schmidt scored. Bowa walked on a 3-2 pitch before the slumping Boone made the third out.
The Pirates threatened in the sixth and seventh innings, but Ruthven worked out of trouble and left for a pinch hitter in the eighth.
EXTRA POINTS – After checking with the National League office, the Phillies learned rookie pitcher Marty Bystrom, called up from Oklahoma City on Sept. 1, will be eligible for the playoffs. But to make Bystrom eligible, another pitcher must be put on the disabled list... If the Phillies get that far, Larry Christenson probably will be the pitcher to be dropped. Christenson is recovering from a groin injury and his progress is not good... Rose said before the game he was aching all over from the flu... Parker has a seven-game hitting streak and he's hitting .381 in September... Bert Blyleven, who has never beaten the Phillies, will go against Steve Carlton in tonight's season-series finale... After 144 games last year, the Phils were 73-71, in fifth place, 14 games out.