Wilmington Morning News - September 24, 1980

Phillies fall to 2nd after loss to Cards


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


ST. LOUIS – Against the Phillies, he's nothing short of Sandy Koufax.


Put Al Olmsted on the mound and the Phils' bats suddenly go quiet. It's no contest.


The 23-year-old left-hander, who grew up in the St. Louis suburbs, completely baffled the Phils for eight innings last night as the Cardinals won the season-series finale 6-3 on a cool night at Busch Memorial Stadium.


The loss was a costly one for the Phils. They dropped back to second place in National League East behind Montreal by a half-game. The Expos bombed Pittsburgh 7-1.


It was Olmsted, you'll remember, who in his first major-league start blanked the Phils over 9 innings in the second game of a double-header on Sept. 12, won by the Cards 5;0 in 11 innings. Last night, he won his first game in the majors, but needed relief help from John Littlefield.


"He's a mystery man to us," said Phillies' Manager Dallas Green. "You have to give him a lot of, credit. He does not throw hard and does not throw many strikes, but he gets us out. He's got that sinkerball and a lot, of breaking stuff. He's tough for us to hit."


The Phils, who had managed only three hits over eight innings, came to life in the ninth, but it was too late. The Cards had padded their lead to 6-1, adding two runs off reliever Ron Reed in the eighth.


Olmsted was working with just two days' rest. He worked 5 innings on Saturday against the Expos and was not involved in the decision.


With one down in the ninth, Mike Schmidt, who had an earlier double, blasted his 43rd homer. Greg Luzinski followed with a double and the Phils loaded the bases when Manny Trillo was safe on an error and Garry Maddox singled.


Here, the Cardinals called on Littlefield to face pinch-hitter Del Unser. Unser sent a fly to the warning track in deep center, but it was caught for a sacrifice fly.


"Del gave us a pleasant scare,' Said Green of the deep fly. "We thought for a second it was going to get out of the park, but he didn't pull it enough, He hit it to the deepest part of the stadium."


Pinch-hitter Greg Gross then flied to shallow center to send the meager crowd of 6,915 home.


The Cards, who managed 13 hits, opened strong against loser Bob Walk, scoring three runs in the second inning. They added another in the fifth off reliever Kevin Saucier and two more in the eighth. Olmsted added insult to injury when he singled in the fifth run.


Garry Templeton, the National League's leading hitter with a .326 average, lashed out three singles, scored two runs and stole two bases.


"It just wasn't Bob Walk's night," said Green. "He just couldn't get his act together tonight. And when you pitch against a hard-hitting team like St. Louis, you better have your act together."


"I'll tell you one thing," said catcher Bob Boone. "I'm glad we don't have to play St. Louis again. With their hitters, they can really be spoilers. They're nice and loose up there. Montreal has three more games with them and Pittsburgh two. They can be tough."


Walk was fortunate the Cards did not score in the first, but in the second the roof caved in when he gave up three runs.


In the first, with one out, Templeton singled and stole second. Keith Hernandez hit a liner that bounced off Walk, but the pitcher recovered in time to throw to third where Schmidt made a brilliant tag on Templeton. Ted Simmons followed with a single to right and went to second on the throw. After George Hendrick was hit by a pitch, Leon Durham fanned.  


In the second, Dane Iorg opened with a single to left and, one out later, was sacrificed to second. Ken Oberkfell ripped a single to center to score Iorg and continued to second on the throw. Templeton's second single of the night brought Oberkfell home.


Templeton, who went to third on Hernandez' single, scored on a Walk wild pitch with Simmons batting. With the count 2-2 on Simmons, , Green brought in Saucier who got the catcher to line out to right on his first pitch.


"I just didn't have any feel out there tonight," said Walk, now 10-6 and without a victory since Sept. 4 in Los Angeles. "I’d throw two pitches and then not be able to do anything with the third. I just couldn't get it going."


Saucier put the Cards down in order in the third and fourth innings, but in the fifth Templeton singled to right, stole second, went to third on an infield out and scored on Simmons' single to right.


Olmsted walked Schmidt with two out in the third and lost his bid for a no-hitter when Bake McBride led off the fourth with a single. Other than that, he put the Phils down in order until Schmidt led off the seventh with a double to left-center.


After Luzinski lined out to center, Trillo singled through the middle to bring home the Phils' first run. Maddox flied out and Larry Bowa grounded out to end the inning.


Sparky Lyle, who took over for the Phils in the sixth, appeared in his 801st game. He is only the seventh pitcher in baseball history to appear in 800 or more games.


EXTRA POINTS – The Phils left immediately after the game for Philadelphia where they will open a two-game series against the Mets tonight... Larry Christenson (5-1J will make his first start since Sept. 6 against rookie right-hander Ed Lynch at 7:35 p.m.... Marty Bystrom will go against Pat Zachry tomorrow night... After that, the Expos come in for the three-game weekend series... The Phils will send Dick Ruthven, Steve Carlton and Walk against the Expos' Dave Palmer, Scott Sanderson and Steve Rogers... The Phils had won three straight and five of eight games before last night and had won 19 of their last 24 games on the road.