Wilmington Morning News - September 25, 1980
Rose helps Phils keep pace in NL East
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – Pete Rose sat across the table in a St. Louis coffee shop late Monday night, trying to joke about one of his worst hitting slumps in 18 major-league seasons.
"At least I'm helping with my glove," he said. "That's the only thing that keeps me from worrying about it."
The drought was a shocking 0-f or-15 when Peter Edward came to bat with a runner on second in the 10th inning of a scoreless struggle with the Mets at Veterans Stadium last night.
Rose, who always likes to take a strike against a right-hander, took the first pitch, then ripped Neil Allen's next delivery through the middle to score pinch-runner Jay Loviglio and give the Phillies a tough 1-0 victory.
"If you're going to win a division championship, you have to win games like this,” said Rose, whose brilliant defensive play in the sixth got starter Larry Christenson out of a jam. "Even though the hits weren't falling in, I thought I was hitting the ball hard. I really hadn't worried too much about the slump because we have been winning and I have played good defense. When you're losing and not hitting, it bothers you."
The victory, the Phils' 11th in their last 16 games, enabled then to remain a half-game behind first-place Montreal in National League East. The Expos whipped Chicago 8-4 yesterday.
Clutch performances by several Phils, in addition to Rose, made last night's return to the Vet for nine games a success.
Larry Christenson, making his first start since Sept. 6, blanked the Mets for eight innings on just four hits while striking out six.
Tug McGraw continued his outstanding stretch drive, pitching two strong innings to gain his third straight victory this month.
Pinch-hitter Del Unser led off the 10th with a single to right and after Loviglio was sent in to run, old folks Tim McCarver, making only his second appearance of the autumn, put down a perfect bunt to advance the runner.
Rose followed with his 12th game-winning run batted in and the Phils had their ninth straight victory over the Mets.
If last night was any indication, the Phils five games with the also-rans are going to be struggles.
"It's always tough to play non-contenders in situations like this," said Rose. "They're loose and doing a lot of experimenting. They have nothing to lose."
"It's fun coming in here and playing a team that has to win," said New York Manager Joe Torre. "We played an excellent game tonight. The only difference was they got a run and we didn't."
Rookie right-hander Ed Lynch, making his first start against the Phils, allowed them only two hits over seven innings before he left for a pinch hitter. Allen, one of the league's top relievers with 22 saves, arrived.
In the ninth, with two out, Garry Maddox singled. As he stole second, catcher Alex Trevino's throw bounced into center field, allowing Maddox to take third. Larry Bowa then fanned on a nasty curve.
"I was watching on television in the clubhouse when Bowa struck out," said Unser. "It was almost an impossible pitch to hit. I had a pretty good idea I was going to bat in the 10th, so I was ready for a breaking pitch."
Unser lined Allen's 0-1 delivery to right and the Phils had their first runner on with nobody out.
Three out of the first four times Rose came to bat last night, he hit the ball hard. Line drives in the first and third were caught and in the eighth, his first time up against Allen, a wicked liner was snared by third baseman Elliott Maddox.
"That ball to third base was the hardest ball I have hit in a month,"' said Rose. "He was guarding the line. Just before that, I came into the clubhouse and got a heavier bat. When you face a pitcher who throws a lot of breaking balls, you tend to swing a lighter bat faster. I figured with the heavier bat, I would wait longer on the pitch.
"I just went up there trying to hit the ball as hard as I could. I didn't want to think about what he might be throwing me or try to out-guess him. I just wanted to hit it hard. When you win a game like this, against such a good reliever, I think it is a good sign."
McGraw, who put the Mets down in order in the 10th, gave up a one-out double to Lee Mazzilh in the ninth, but got Claudell Washington looking at a third pitch and Steve Henderson hit a high chopper that Manny Trillo turned into the final out.
"I know I have been pitching well the last couple of months," said McGraw, "but to tell you the truth, I felt better tonight than I have in a long time. It was scary when the count went 3-2 to Washington. I hate to fall behind in the count to left-hand hitters, but I snuck a fastball by him. He wasn't looking for that."
Christenson, somewhat of a surprise starter, said he conferred with pitching coach Herm Starrette in Chicago last weekend and said he wanted a chance to start a game. The Phils more or less had not counted on the right-hander since he severely injured bis groin in Los Angeles on Sept. 6.
"My leg felt OK and I felt I deserved a chance," said Christenson. "It's difficult to come into this clubhouse and have guys look at you. They're probably thinking that I am not going to be able to help the team the rest of the way. I wanted to prove that my leg was OK."
Christenson's most serious trouble came in the sixth when the Mets put runners on first and second with two out and Washington batting.
"In spring training L.C. and I worked on a pickoff play for situations like that," said Rose. "I told him I'd whistle when I wanted to put it one. I whistled and he winked and we caught Mazzilli off the bag."
It was not an orthodox pickoff play. Rose ended up chasing Mazzilli to second and after he stood on the bag, Pete continued chasing Wally Backman, who was finally tagged out after Rose threw to Mike Schmidt.
EXTRA POINTS - Rose says his longest hitless streak was 21 or 22 games four years ago with the Reds... He couldn't remember whether It was 21 or 22, but quickly recited Reds' Publicity Director Jim Ferguson's private phone number... "Call 513-421-2990 and Fergie will tell you what it was," said Pete... The Mets have lost 12-straight one-run games... The Phils are 15-8 in September... Since returning from the disabled list on July 17, McGraw has allowed just three runs in 41 innings... Unser is hitting .297 as a pinch hitter... Pat Zachry vs. Marty Bystrom tonight... Then, the Expos come in for the weekend series.