Camden Courier-Post - September 23, 1980

Moreland’s clutch hit puts Phils in first…


By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post


ST. LOUIS – Suddenly ,'the Phillies are in first place, leading – if not controlling – the National League East.


They assumed an advantage of a scant one-half game over Montreal by taking a taut 3-2 win in 1 0 innings over the Cardinals last night while the Pirates where beating the Expos.


The Phillies' win could easily be termed miraculous, so many and varied were the components of its creation. Indeed, it seemed that destiny had singled out the Phillies as its choice to lead the anarchist East.


KEITH MORELAND drove in the winning run in the top of the 10th with a pinch double that would have given a tennis linesman pause for thought, so close was it to the right field foul line. Steve Carlton won his 23rd, but only after tiptoeing through tight spots in four of the nine innings he pitched. And first baseman Pete Rose, who went 0-for-5 at the plate, made himself the game's savior with two stunning plays in the field.


Moreland, who later declared his double the "biggest hit" of his short career, sliced a 2-2 pitch off losing reliever Kim Seaman to the opposite field, scoring Larry Bowa with the game-winner. Bowa, who was 3-for-4, began the 10th with a single and was advanced to second by a Bob Boone bunt. Moreland then hit for Carlton.


"He (Seaman) started me off with a breaking ball, then he threw me a change-up that I really pulled off of," said an exuberant Moreland. "He threw me another slider down, then tried the run a fastball away from me. It was a nasty pitch and I thought then he would throw me another breaking ball. But it was a change-up and I was fortunate enough to hit it where they weren't.


"Since I was little, I've wanted to be on a championship team in professional baseball. And I think we're there. I think we took it (first place) over for the last time. I think it's ours the rest of the way."


THIRD BASEMAN Mike Schmidt, having been through a few more pennant races than Moreland, was understandably more cautious in his approach to the 13 games that remain.


"It doesn't feel different to me, whether you're a half in or a half out," he said with a smile. "If the world ends tomorrow, then I guess we win the division.


"But our prospects are good. We're healthy, we're keyed up and the schedule favors us even though we do have to go to Montreal (for the final three games of the year).


"The last 10, 12 games will seem like an eternity, but all we can do is play our hearts out one game at a time and let the chips fall where they may."


SCHMIDT slammed an awesome home run with one out in the fourth off St. Louis starter Pete Vuckovich to tie the game, 1-1. The homer, Schmidt's 42nd of the year and third in three days, cleared the wall in dead center field some 414 feet from home plate. It landed about halfway up the rows of bleachers beyond the wall. It was the first home run to that part of Busch Stadium this season.


"That," said Schmidt, "was a good one. I've never hit a ball out of here to dead center. When I hit it, I thought it had a chance, but I didn't think it would go because every time I hit the ball here to center it gets run down."


Rose first protected the 2-1 lead, then saved a loss with his glove. With two out and a runner on second in the seventh, Rose somehow gloved a hard ground ball off the bat of Ken Oberkfell that hit a seam in the AstroTurf and bounced wickedly toward Rose's head.


In the eighth, with a run in, the bases loaded and two out, Rose dug a Schmidt throw out of the dirt to just nail Tommy Herr. Herr had hit a twisting grounder that Schmidt had to back away to get, ruining any chance for a force at another bag.


"HE (Herr) was out, too," said Rose. "I was waiting for the ball over the bag and I think he slowed down a little so he wouldn't run into me. I think that was the difference. He could have planted me into right field."


Said an admiring Schmidt: "I got into a funny position, so the best I could to do was underhand the ball to first. I wasn't in the right position to throw to second. I had the easy part, Pete did the rest. The man went 0-for-5 and won the game for us."


And put the Phillies a half step in front of the Expos m the mad East race.


PHIL UPS - Phils got a break in eighth when George Hendrick bounced a ground rule double over the right-center field wall... Had it not gone over the wall, two runs would have scored to give the Cards a 3-2 lead... Last time Phils were alone in first was Sept. 4... Carlton beat Cards for sixth time, becoming the first Phillies pitcher to go 6-0 against a team since Robin Roberts beat the Brooklyn Dodgers six times in 1952... Bob Forsch, who was scheduled to start tonight's game for the Cards, left for his home in Sacramento, Calif., because his mother died last night... Al Olmsted replaces Forsch as Bob Walk's opponent.