Camden Courier-Post - September 27, 1980

Phils nip Expos, up lead to 1½


By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post


PHILADELPHIA – More than 50,000 fans were on their feet, stomping, cheering, screaming for a small miracle. The first in a series of September showdowns between the Phillies and the Montreal Expos had gone into the bottom of the ninth tied.


And those thousands of fans, who had politely watched from the edges of their Veterans Stadium seats, were now vocally demanding a hero to step forward.


The Phillies' Bake McBride, the ninth's first hitter, heard them and – for a moment – was distracted. "The crowd was so loud," he later said, "I almost wished they would be more quiet so I could concentrate."


BUT THE DIN only swelled when McBride stroked David Palmer's first pitch over the right field wall for a home run that gave the Phillies a dramatic 2-1 victory over Montreal. The homer touched off an emotional celebration that had not been seen in this town in years.


Even when the Phillies were winning three straight National League East Division championships from 1976-78, they did it almost clinically. Emotion was something not associated with this club. But the Phils last night were as emotional as a team that had just clinched a pennant.


They have not, of course. The victory puts them in the driver's seat, 1½ games ahead of the Expos, but nine games still remain and five of them are with Montreal.


The numbers, however, do not detract from the magic of the evening. McBride merely provided the climax. Before him, pitchers Dick Ruthven and Tug McGraw had been superb, and Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Manny Trillo and Greg Luzinski had all turned in outstanding plays in the field.


STILL, THE night belonged to McBride. "I went up there looking for a breaking ball – and I got it," he said. "I hit it good and went into my home run trot. Then I realized the wind was blowing in. That's when I took off. I really would've been embarrassed if I had ended up on second base on that ball."


McBride instead happily completed his home run trot and was greeted at the plate by a mob of joyous teammates. The party hardly ended there. Well after McBride had gone into the clubhouse, the fans were still on their feet, still applauding, demanding that McBride make a curtain call.


Manager Dallas Green was the one who told McBride of the fans' demands. But McBride would have none of the hero's role... unless his teammates accompanied him back to the field.


"No way I go back unless we all go," McBride told Green.


AND SO THEY went, the entire team, and stood in the shadows of the dugout as McBride stepped onto the field and acknowledged his ovation.


"I have seen our team try to be emotional and it wasn't us," said McGraw. "It was what people expected us to be. But the emotion this team has shown lately has been sincere."


McGraw retired all six batters he faced in the eighth and ninth to get credit for his fourth win of the year, second in three days. McGraw, the foundation of the Phillies' bullpen, now has had a hand in four of the club's last six wins.


"Tug's strong," said Green. "I don't know where he's getting it from, but he's throwing like he'll never need a rest."


RUTHVEN, TOO, produced one of the finest games of his season. The righthander one-hit the Expos for the first 5 innings before allowing Jerry White a double and Rodney Scott an RBI single.


Scott's single was a ground ball in the shortstop hole that Larry Bowa should have stopped. Green, in fact, later said he thought the play should have been scored an error. But Bowa, who probably would not have had a play at first anyway, was in position to stop the ball. It simply skipped between his glove and his foot.


The run did no more than tie the game because center fielder Garry Maddox had put the Phillies up with a two-out homer to the seats in left-center in the second.


Ruthven had one more close shave in the seventh, Andre Dawson sandwiching a double between two outs. With first base open, Ruthven intentionally walked lefthander Warren Cromartie to pitch to Larry Parrish, a righthander.


"I STARTED him off with a fastball inside that he fouled straight back," said Ruthven. "That told me that he was looking for a fastball there."


So Ruthven threw Parrish a succession of breaking balls, working the count to 3-2. It was then that Ruthven made his best pitch of the game, freezing Parrish with a fastball that caught the outside corner for a called third strike.


"We needed one about then," Ruthven said.


Those same words could apply well to McBride's climactic home run.


PHIL UPS – Game-and-a-half lead is Phillies' biggest of season... They are 17-8 this month, 10-2 in one-run games... McGraw has four wins and three saves out of the 17 wins... Homer was McBride's 14th game-winning RBI of the season, giving him the club lead over Schmidt... McBride needs one more home run to become the only National League player in double figures in extra-base hits... Phils have won seven of their last 10 home games... They've won three straight by scores of 1-0, 2-1 and 2-1... Steve Carlton opposes Scott Sanderson this afternoon.