Wilmington Evening Journal - September 2, 1980

Phillies take Giant step into first place


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


SAN FRANCISCO – It was a blend of gutter talk and a high-level brainstorming seminar. Scotch flowed and profanity flowed and as the decibels increased, sharp, cutting opinions vibrated up and down the Airport Hilton corridors.


The Phillies' war room was in session.


Sometime in yesterday's early morning hours, Manager Dallas Green went to sleep and Player Personnel Director Paul Owens stopped cussing and all was fine with the Phillies. Well, almost.


Two lackadaisical losses at San Diego were pushed aside by emotion and anger and a certainty that come September this multi-talented team would pick up the pieces and take charge in National League East.


The Phillies didn't exactly burst through a brick wall yesterday, but they eased by tough San Francisco 6-4 at Candlestick Park to take over first place in their division by 1 percentage point.


Before they turned back the Giants, Owens held a team meeting. It was not pleasant, but honest and conducted in ballplayers' language.


As a result of Sunday night's soul searching inside .and outside of Owens' suite, Green decided to scrap his plans to go with a five-man pitching rotation the rest of the season. Instead, the manager will use only four starters – Steve Carlton, who won his 21st game with a routinely professional seven-hitter yesterday, Larry Christenson, Dick Ruthven and Bob Walk.


That means rookie phenom Marty Bystrom, just arrived from Oklahoma City, will not face Vida Blue tonight. Christenson gets that assignment.


"I have talked with the four pitchers involved and they feel they can dolt," said Green. "They're the four guys we want out there from now on. I think it's time we run the guys out there who have brought us this far. I think they're very capable and I think the four-day thing will actually help everyone but Carlton, and he feels it won't hurt him. He recognizes the fact he's thrown a lot of innings (247), but he also recognizes where we're going.


"I think pitching every three days will help the control, especially Bobby Walk's. I think it will get him out their more quickly and not give him so many days to think about what's going on. A four-day rotation always sharpens up the pitchers. There's not so much breathing time. You pitch one day and you're out there in a hurry. With a five-man rotation and a few off days, some of them get six or seven days rest. We don't need that anymore."


With the Phils finally easing into first place, Green reiterated he thinks the Eastern Division will go to the wire.


"That's what I thought in spring training and the way I feel now," he said. "It's going to be a lot of fun and I think we're going to win it."


After taking over first place for a couple of hours Saturday night, the unpredictable Phils shut off the f au-1 cet. They let dreadful San Diego embarrass them in the second same of a double-header 5-1, then virtually handed the Padres Sunday's contest 10-3.


Owens could not believe what be saw Sunday. Gold Glove center fielder Garry Maddox watched two routine fly balls drop in front of him and It became obvious once the Padres wiped out a 3-0 Philadelphia lead, the Phillies called it a game.


The Pope was on the phone with owner Ruly Carpenter, who was back in Wilmington, Del., several times. He had shouting arguments with members of his staff and some players after the team arrived here from San Diego. He and Green yelled and shouted about the past two games far past Sunday midnight.


Carpenter, Owens and Green nave pampered this multi-talented group like doting parents. The players have been given fantastic contracts; most of the regulars are set for life.


Then, to see them perform as they did in San Diego left Owens bitter, hurt and on fire.


Green's historic tirade came on Aug. 10 between games of a doubleheader loss at Pittsburgh. The Phils found themselves six games behind the Pirates and Expos after that four-game tailspin.


Many people thought they were finished. It was time to write them off.


But since then, Montreal and Pittsburgh have stumbled. The Phils' record since then has been 14-8, good enough to make up the six games.


Losing two straight in lackluster fashion to San Diego, however, gave little indication the Phils were ready to take command of the division.


Owens was loud, emotional and profane during his lecture. He forgot about sensitive feelings and criticized Larry Bowa and Maddox in front of their teammates for their performances of late.


"You've played the first five months of this season for yourselves," he said. "I want you to play the next month for Ruly Carpenter and Paul Owens. It's about time you did something for all the things we have done for you."


"He was a hundred percent correct in everything he said," commented Pete Rose. "He , asked anybody who didn't want to play to just leave."


"The Pope's the general manager and he has every right to come down here and say what he said," admitted Bowa, who had two singles and drove in two runs yesterday. "He jumped on Garry and me. We have not been playing well."


Bowa, who has refused to talk with reporters for the most part since the blown-out-of-proportion drug stories hit the newspapers in July, has been hitting well the last few weeks and has raised his average to .259.


His inconsistent play – for Bowa – at shortstop has been one of the eyesores of late. He has 14 errors compared to six last year.


"But I'm not going to have a year like 1979 again," he said. "All you have to do is check the fielding statistics. None of the regular shortstops in the league has fewer errors than I have.


"As for my hitting, I have been swinging the bat well. It has been a difficult adjustment hitting near the bottom of the lineup (moved down from second), but I have done it and not complained. Dallas Green says that that is the best lineup and if we win the division, more power to him. But that doesn't mean I like hitting there."


"Out of bad things sometimes come good things," said Green. "I think out of Sunday's game we got some positive things done, teamwise. I think we are closer together as a ballclub right now than we have been in a long time. I don't think it's necessary to elaborate. Just say the people involved recognize what we're trying to do and have said publicly that that's what they want to do – win. Hopefully that will carry through the next 30 days.


"The Pope's talk was very constructive, when he meets with the team it's always constructive. He reaffirmed his beliefs and I think it was good for them to hear his thoughts. They have been hearing them from me all year. It was his honest feelings about the ballclub and what we're doing that he talked about. He believes that we're a good ballclub and that we're on the right track to winning.


"He asked them to put away their own individual problems and get down to playing.


"I went in to talk to Dallas today," said Maddox, who did not start yesterday's game, but who came in as a late-inning defensive replacement for Lonnie Smith. "I apologized to him and offered to apologize to the team, but he said that wasn't necessary.


"There's no reason I didn't make those plays on Sunday. Normally, I do not need sunglasses. In both instances, the ball went into the sun and never came out. Usually, I do not look directly into the sun, I look to the side of it when the ball is up that high and wait for it to come out to the side of the sun. This time, the ball never came out. The only difference the sun glasses would have made would have kept me from being blinded if I had looked directly into the sun. I didn't do that. But I have no excuses, I should have caught both balls."


Rose said few general managers could hold a team meeting and be as effective as Owens was.


"He brought most of these players into the game," said Pete. "He is a former player and a former manager. They respect him. He's not a guy out of Yale or Harvard who has not been there (in uniform). He's more like a player. He's more like a father to this team than a general manager.


"He takes a beating and a victory more serious than some of them. He hates to see us play poorly, I mean non-aggressive, lackadaisical baseball. He talks ballplayers' language. We just haven't been playing very well the last couple of days and he wasn't about to let us stay in the same pattern."


The Phils, who collected 13 hits, snapped a 4-4 tie in the eighth, scoring two runs at the expense of loser Greg Minton.


With one down, Bowa beat out a single behind second base. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Bob Boone's single to center. Boone, who had taken second on the throw, tried to score from second on Carlton's single to deep shortstop, a bouncer Johnnie LeMaster momentarily bobbled. Boone, however, was cut down at the plate, but Greg Gross hit a shot off second baseman Rennie Stennett's glove that allowed Carlton, who had moved to second on a wild pitch, to score the second run of the inning.


The Giants' biggest inning came in the seventh when they wiped out a 4-2 Philadelphia lead. Pinch-hitter Joe Strain singled, went to second when Bill North walked, and both runners moved up on Joe Pettinl's two-strike sacrifice. Strain scored on Jim Wohlford's sacrifice fly and North came home on Mike Ivie's single.


After that, Carlton, who recorded his 21st victory, allowed the Giants just one hit.


"Steve has pitched better," said Green, "but he turned in a good, professional effort. He was having trouble with some of his pitches, but came up with a big one when he needed it."