Wilmington Evening Journal - September 26, 1980

1st-place Phils meet Expos in main event


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA – Forget the backdoor approach. If the Phillies are to survive this National League East fight, they're going to have to do it by beating Montreal in the same ring.


The first of two, three-game showdowns begins at Veterans Stadium tonight and to Pete Rose, you can forget about the other five games, at least for the moment.


"I think Friday night's is a big, big game," said Rose after the Phils reclaimed first place with a 2-1 victory over New York at the Vet last night. "I hate to say one game is the key, but if we can beat the Expos tomorrow, they'll be two back in the loss column and have to face the best pitcher in baseball (Steve Carlton) on Saturday."


Manager Dallas Green, who has been dodging questions about key games and crucial series all year, was finally ready to admit the importance of this weekend after Sparky Lyle nailed down last night's victory for rookie Marty Bystrom.


"I am finally willing to say the next three days are critical," said Green. "We're ready for them and they're ready for us. If we get the pitching I expect, we will win it."


Dick Ruthven will match his 17-10 record tonight against Dave Palmer's 7-5 mark. Ruthven has a 1-1 record against Montreal this year and is 6-7 lifetime. Palmer has not been involved in any decisions against the Phils this season.


Overall, the Phils and Expos have divided 12 games this year, but the Phils have won two of the last three and three of the last five. The Phils have a 47-39 record against Montreal since the Vet opened in 1971.


"If we win Friday night, they cannot regain first place with one win," said Rose. "At no time this year can I remember a time when we were guaranteed first place for more than one day. That has a big psychological edge for us."


Montreal suffered a jarring 5-4 loss in Chicago yesterday that enabled the Phils, with their victory, to move a half game in front.


"The shoe's on the other foot now," said Green. "They have to catch us; we are in first place now. I am very, very pleased where we are. I couldn't be happier for the team and the organization. They've worked very hard. The job's not done yet and it won't be until we get where we're going."


Green's only concern entering the weekend is the team's hitting slump. It managed only six hits against New York, but made the most of them.


Nine of the Phils' 16 September victories have been by one run.


"I think that's the sign of a good team," said Green. "It shows to me that we're getting outstanding pitching, especially in the late innings."


"You have to give the other team credit," said Rose. "Good pitching will stop good hitting anytime. Tonight, our pitching was just a little bit better.”


Lonnie Smith, in the lineup so Greg Luzinski could go to the batting cage and work on the mechanics of his swing, singled home Larry Bowa in the fifth inning last night with what proved to be the winning run. Moments earlier, Garry Maddox' single had given the Phils a 1-0 lead against reliever Roy Lee Jackson. Jackson replaced Pat Zachry when the starter bad to leave after straining a leg when he stumbled running to first base in the third inning.


"I wanted to give the Bull a night where he could concentrate on swinging the bat and not worry about the game," said Green. "Besides, the footing out in left field was slippery and we didn't want to take any chances of him hurting bis knee again."


Since returning from the disabled list and knee surgery on Aug. 24, Luzinski has been batting .198, 19-for-96. He has had just one hit in his last 12 at-bats and has struck out six times.


But to win the division, Green says he needs the Bull's power in the lineup. Even when he is slumping, his presence takes some heat off Bake McBride and Mike Schmidt. They are not pitched around as much.


Smith, who had not started since Sept. 14, has tried to understand Green's reasoning, but said last night he had hoped to play more, especially since he is batting .337.


"I haven't even played in seven days," said Smith. "I know what Dallas thinks, but it's tough to sit on the bench. I'm not sure I deserved that."


Bystrom was brilliant for six innings, allowing only Hubie Brooks' leadoff double in the third. That threat was quickly snuffed when Zachry bunted into a double piay seconds before he was hurt.


In the seventh, Bystrom dug himself a hole and after the Mets ruined his shutout bid, Dickie Noles was summoned to put out the fire with runners on first and third, two out. He got pinch-hitter Joel Youngblood to line out to Larry Bowa.


"I thought Green might let me pitch to Youngblood," said Bystrom, who is now 4-0. "He didn't, so there was nothing I could do."


When the rookie left the diamond, he was given an ovation by the smallest crowd of the year, 20,525. Many of the fans stood.


"I wasn't about to tip my hat," the rookie said. "I know how these fans . can boo you when you go bad. I might have a bad game, so I wasn't about to tip my hat tonight.


EXTRA POINTS – Lyle, who gained his second save with the Phils, says he is still not throwing his slider as hard as he would like... The victory was the Phils' 10th straight over the Mets and they are 16 over .500 for the first time this year.