Allentown Morning Call - September 26, 1980

Phillies defeat Mets, 2-1, to climb into first place


By Ted Meixell, Call Sports Writer


PHILADELPHIA – Dallas Green dropped a plate of meatballs and potato salad on his desk a few minutes after the Phillies had won their ninth one-run victory in 11 decisions this month, a 2-1 squirmer over the punchless New York Mets last night. 


In view of the fact the Montreal Expos lost 5-4 earlier in the day to the Cubs and the dreaded Pirates were clobbered 10-2 by St. Louis, the Phils were now in first place in National League East, a half game ahead of the Expos and 4½ in front of the Buccos. 


"I'm finally ready to admit that the next three days (against the Expos) are critical," said Green, who'd been brushing aside that notion for nigh unto two months. "But they've gotta' beat us now. We're in first place – not them. 


"We're ready for 'em, although I'm sure they're ready for us, too." 


If Wednesday's 1-0, 10-inning job belonged to the graybeards, the Phils became the first-place Phils last night largely due to the efforts of rookie starter Marty Bystrom, rookie outfielder Lonnie Smith and one oldster – newly acquired reliever Sparky Lyle. 


Bystrom, who shut out New York 5-0 in his first major league start a couple weeks ago, carried a one-hitter into the seventh inning last night and picked up his fourth straight win despite needing help from Dickie Noles and Lyle. He departed after yielding four hits, striking out six and walking no one. 


Smith, playing so slump-ridden Greg Luzinski could get his mind off his troubles for a day, drove home Larry Bowa with what proved to be the winning run in the fifth inning, although Garry Maddox's RBI a few minutes earlier; was the official game-winner since the Mets never caught up.


Lyle picked up his second save sonce coming here from Texas, working out of an eighth-inning jam and breezing through a 1-2-3 ninth. 


"I'm always happy to get back in there," Smith said, "although my bat felt a little slow. In fact, my whole body felt slow, but I just felt good about getting a chance to play again and contribute." 


Green was asked if he were a genius or lucky with regard to using Smith. "Both," he answered. Then he added, "No, I just wanted Bull to take a day and just go down to the batting cage and get some swings without the pressure of a game. Besides, it was a wet day and it was slippery out there." 


The Phils, who hadn't exactly been tearing the cover off the baseball the past three games, finally got off the schneid in the fifth by bunching four hits for two runs. The way the Mets were "attacking" Bystrom to that point, there was already ample reason to think the deuce would be plenty. 


However, with Le Expos due here at 8:05 tonight, it behooved the guys in red and white pinstripes to get crackin'. So Manny Trillo began the crackin' with a triple that bounced off the 330 sign in right. The ball rolled halfway back to first base before Claudell Washington could beat it with a stick and kill it. 


Maddox promptly roped a single past the lunging Hubie Brooks at third for a 1-0 advantage and Bowa followed with a bouncer past shortstop Wally Backman. (Are you getting all these Mets' names?) 


After Bob Boone flied to left and Bystrom bunted into a force, Smith sent a seeing-eye single to center to score Bowa. 


But Bystrom, who hadn't really allowed a loud foul other than Brooks' looping double to right in the third, suddenly lost his stuff. While the Mets did get the rookie righty out of the game, the Phils were happy New York got only one run out of the flurry. 


Backman stroked a single to right and, one out later, Steve Henderson roped another to left. Washington ripped one up the middle, but Bowa made a fine stop in short center and his backhand flip to Trillo almost nipped Henderson for a force. Alex Trevino fouled off a half dozen pitches and rapped into a force at second, with Backman scoring. 


Green figured he'd seen enough, so he yanked Bystrom and brought in Noles, who retired pinch-hitter Joel Youngblood on a wicked liner to Bowa for the final out.


Lyle replaced Noles for the eighth and promptly found himself in a passel of trouble. Doug Flynn dropped a flare just out of Bowa's reach and, with two out, pinch hitter Dan Norman ripped a double to left center. Smith saved the tying run by cutting the ball off before it could slip through to the wall. 


When Green decided to let Lyle pitch to Lee Mazzilli with a base open, the crowd moved to the edge of their seats. Lyle went to 3-0 on "The Italian Stallion" before getting him on a lofty popup to Trillo in short center.


Green was asked if he'd considered walking Mazzilli to set up a force. "Why?" he shot back. 


Why, indeed. These ARE the first-place Phils. 


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NOTES : Dick Ruthven opens the three-game showdown with the Expos tonight against Dave Palmer. Then it's Steve Carlton " against Scot Sanderson at 2: 15 p.m. tomorrow and Bob Walk vs. Steve Rogers at 3:05 p.m. Sunday.