Wilmington News Journal - September 20, 1980

Nightmarish ninth may haunt Phillies


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


CHICAGO – It was a nightmarish ninth inning the Phillies will not soon forget. In fact, it was an excruciating 4-3 loss that may make the long off-season less enjoyable.


Start at the top – top of the ninth, that is.


The Phils, beginning a three-game adventure in Wrigley Field, eased into the ninth inning yesterday with a 3-2 lead and many in the meager crowd of 4,352 were heading home.


The Phils loaded the bases with one out and you might have thought both managers, not just the Phils' Dallas Green, were playing for a championship. But the bottom line was that Lonnie Smith was called out on strikes and Bake McBride grounded out to leave the bases loaded.


Now, it's the bottom of the ninth. The bottom line here is that the Cubs scored two runs off relievers Warren Brusstar and Tug McGraw and wobbled off the field with the 4-3 victory. Old friend Jerry Martin stroked a single to right off McGraw to bring home the winning run and, end the tension.


The Phillies' clubhouse was quieter than it has been all season. The angry and sad-looking athletes knew the score would be flashed on, the message board in St. Louis last night before Montreal played the Cards and certainly would give the division-leading Expos added incentive.


"I don't like to lose like that," muttered Green, who was forced to swallow his anger and go on a Chicago post-game radio show because of an earlier promise. "We could have put it away earlier and didn't.


"You can talk about the relief pitching, but what bothers me more than anything else is the fact we didn't put many runs on the scoreboard. We're just not hitting."


In the Chicago cubicle, the reporters and players were insisting that Joey Amalfitano out-managed Dallas Green.


In the Phillies' room, Green explained each of his moves and you couldn't argue with them. It all goes back to something the skipper said in Pittsburgh after an equally distasteful loss to the Pirates: "There comes a time when the personnel you put out there has to win ball games for you."


Yesterday, after the Phils built up a 3-1 lead against starter Rick Reuschel, that did not happen.


Bake McBride's single and Mike Schmidt's triple to the left-field corner produced a 1-0 first-inning lead with one out. But after Greg' Luzinski walked, Manny Trillo fanned and Garry Maddox flied to shallow left field.


Steve Dillard homered off Bob Walk with two out in the second to pull the Cubs even, but Ramon Aviles, subbing for the injured Larry Bowa, homered in the fifth and the Phils were back on top.


They made it 3-1 in the seventh when Pete Rose's bloop single to left brought home Aviles, who had beaten out a bunt single, from second.


Maddox started the ninth by drawing a walk from reliever Dick Tidrow. Bob Boone, who had two earlier singles, drilled one through Tidrow's legs and when the center fielder bobbled the ball, Maddox raced to third. Moments before Aviles was called out on strikes, Boone stole second base.


Now, the wheels began to spin. As Amalfitano summoned left-hander Willie Hernandez, the scene in front of the Phillies' dugout looked like something from "To Tell ' The Truth."


Greg Gross was the scheduled batter, but rookie Ozzie Virgil picked up a bat. Then Lonnie Smith picked up a bat. Finally Keith Moreland came up the steps with bat in hand.


Moreland was walked intentionally and, when Green sent Smith up to bat for Del Unser, Amalfitano called on rookie Lee Arthur Smith, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander who appears overpowering even before he throws his fastball.


It's doubtful Lonnie Smith even saw the third strike as it streaked by.


McBride got a piece of a pitch and grounded it to second base to end the inning.


"I felt Lonnie Smith was as good as anyone to send up there in that situation," said Green. "He's hitting .337, hits right-handers and lefthanders, has a good eye and I didn't think he was going to hit into a double play."


Green said he considered sending Smith, not Moreland, to bat for Gross.


"That's why there was all that confusion in front of the dugout," he said."I don't know what Joey would have done had we switched Smith and Moreland. I just felt Lonnie would stay out of the double play better than Keith. We knew they would walk Keith."


The Cubs took advantage of pinch-hitter Lenny Randle's single and stolen base and Ivan DeJesus' single to right to score their second run in the seventh. Newcomer Sparky Lyle, pitching in his fourth consecutive game, put out the fire, a rriove that reduced Green's bullpen corps for the ninth.


Brusstar one-two-threed the Cubs in the eighth, but pinch-hitter Larry Biittner led off the ninth with a double to right, a sinking liner that bounced away from McBride.


With the rotation play working to perfection, the Phils cut down pinch-runner Mick Kelleher at third after Dillard put down a bunt.


With Dillard on first, Brusstar walked Cliff Johnson, bringing up DeJesus. McGraw was ready in the bullpen, but Green stayed with Brusstar.


DeJesus drilled Brusstar's first bitch to left and Dillard scored. There was a throw to the plate, but (left fielder George Vukovich had hobbled the ball and there was little chance to cut down the runner.


Here, Amalfitano called on left-handed-hitter Scot Thompson to bat for Lee Smith. As soon as Thompson was announced, Green brought in McGraw and Amalfitano countered with Martin, the former Phils' outfielder, who was batting .225.


Martin hit a 1-2 McGraw fastball to right field. McBride bobbled the ball, delaying his throw to the plate as the winning run scored.


"I was looking for a screwball," said Martin, a fastball hitter. "I was out over the plate, preparing for the scroogie, that's why I hit the ball to right.


"I've gotten a lot of batters out with the fastball," lamented McGraw. "I just fouled up the inning to complete a fouled-up ball game."


EXTRA POINTS - Bowa, who pulled a left hamstring against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, is on a day-to-day basis... The Phils now have a 7-4 record since the showdown against Eastern Division teams started on Sept. 8... They have 16 games remaining to Montreal's 15... The crowd was the smallest of the season to see the Phils play... The Phils-Expos game on Sept. 28 at the Vet will begin at 3:05 p.m. to accommodate ABC television... Rookie Marty Bystrom, tries to extend his 17 scoreless innings today when he faces Lynn McGlothen... Dick Ruthven against Dennis Lamp tomorrow.