Wilmington Evening Journal - September 4, 1980

Phils earn 1st-place lead and new image


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


SAN FRANCISCO – Not since 1977 bad the Phillies swept a series in the graveyard that is Candlestick Park.


But they held off the stubborn San Francisco Giants 4-3 last night and skipped out of town with a three-game winning streak and anew image.


The winning streak has put them atop the National League East by a half-game over Pittsburgh, but in the long run the image may be more important.


From the ashes of two disastrous losses in San Diego, the Phils have risen and they now honestly believe they are going to win the race to the wire with the Pirates and Montreal Expos, who lost last night and fell out of a first-place deadlock.


The Phils open an important four-game series with Los Angeles tonight in Dodger Stadium, the final competition against Western Division teams against which they have a 40-28 record, compared to 31-32 versus the East.


Manager Dallas Green has been preaching all year about grinding out victories and building character. After the two embarrassments in San Diego, there is every indication all his yelling and shouting has not gone for naught.


On Monday, the Giants shook off a 4-2 Philadelphia lead to tie in the late innings. But the Phils shifted gears and scored two more runs to win 6-4.


Tuesday night's 2-1, 13-inning success was almost incredible. Warren Brusstar, who was given little or no chance to pitch in 1980 back in spring training, threw a double-play ball when the Giants had runners op first and third and one out In the ninth, then worked out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the 11th.


A week ago, the Phils probably would have lost that game.


After easing to a 4-0 lead last night, the Phils had to fight for their life in the ninth inning when rookie Chris Bourjos blasted his first major-league homer, a two-run shot that pulled the Giants to within a run against winner Dick Ruthven.


The game ended with Terry Whitfield on second and relief ace Tug McGraw striking out Mike Ivie.


Ever since that lost weekend in Pittsburgh when the Phils dropped four straight to the Pirates, they have been coming off the ropes. Maybe that is the destiny of this team.


They were six games back that Sunday night, but now they are in first place. They have been there for three days, their longest reign since last May. And they reached that summit after virtually falling apart in two games in San Diego.


"You have to be pleased with the three games here," said Green. "We have bad our troubles winning here the last few years. But they were important games and these guys showed me what they are made of, I think it's going to be one helluva race, probably decided on the last weekend of the season (the Phils will be in Montreal). And I think we are going to win it."


Green didn't know it at the time, but a suicide squeeze bunt by Larry Bowa against reliever Tom Griffin in the sixth inning turned out to be the winner last night.


With one out, Manny Trillo singled, stole second and went to third on Greg Gross' single. Bowa looked at Griffin's first pitch, then put down a perfect bunt and the Phils had a 4-0 lead.


"We got three quick runs off Allen Ripley, then it looked like we were scuffling," said Green. "I thought the squeeze would be a good play j there, but you have to worry about ' the pitchout. That's why I had Bowa take the first pitch, then I flashed the squeeze sign."


Ripley had been a puzzle for the Phils in four previous appearances that included three starts and a 3-0 record against them. He had allowed just one earned run and 15 hits in 21 innings, and had struck out 12.


The Phils reversed that trend in the second when Trillo singled and went to second on Gross' infield out. Bowa beat out a chopper to Darrell Evans, but when the third baseman threw wildly to first, Trillo scored and Bowa went to second. Bob Boone's infield out allowed Bowa to take second, and he raced home with the second run when Ruthven jumped on Ripley's 0-2 pitch, lining it to left for a double.


After Pete Rose was hit by a pitch, Bake McBride was safe on an-infield single and Mike Schmidt, who had fanned six of his previous 10 at-bats, singled to left. Ruthven easily scored from third, but Rose was out trying to make it from second.


The Giants had runners on second and third with one out in the fifth, but Ruthven got Max Venable and Terry Whitfield to fly out.


In the bottom of the sixth, after getting two quick outs, Ruthven walked Milt Mav. Guv Sularz collected his first major-league hit with a single to right, and a Giant run scored when Joe Pettini roped a single to left. Pinch-hitter Jim Wohlford ended the threat with a fly to right.


In the ninth, Pettini singled to left and Bourjos hit a 1-2 hanging breaking ball over the left-field fence for his first major-league hit.


After Bill North flied to center on a 3-2 pitch, Green brought in McGraw. He got pinch-hitter Larry Herndon to fly to center, but Whitfield doubled to the gap in right-center.


After fouling off two 3-2 deliveries, Ivie fanned an a nasty screwball.


EXTRA POINTS - The Phils have not hit a home run since Schmidt and Greg Luzinski blasted back-to-back shots off Bob Knepper on Aug. 24 at Veterans Stadium... That's a span of 10 games, two less than the club record of 12... Trillo has a six-game hitting streak, while Rose has batted safely in 10 of 11... The Phils have a 20-14 record on grass fields... The Phils ended the season series with a 6-6 record against the Giants... They were 4-2 here and 2-4 at the Vet... The Phils flew to Los Angeles after the game where they will try to improve on their 2-0 Dodger Stadium record... The Phils will send Bob Walk (9-4) against Jerry Reuss (16-4) in tonight's opener... Steve Carlton seeks his 22nd victory tomorrow night against Don Sutton (9-4).

Phillies spell relief T-u-g M-c-G-r-a-w


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


SAN FRANCISCO – During that tense ninth inning on Aug. 25, Tug McGraw was ordered to intentionally walk Joe Ferguson.


Remember the night?


The Dodger pinch hitter looked at the first pitch, then leaned across the plate and roped a two-run single to right that helped Los Angeles to a not-soon-to-be-forgotten 8-4 victory over the Phillies.


Bill Russell was the next batter. The first pitch was close, the second closer, the third almost hit him and the fourth drilled him on the shoulder. The Dodger shortstop charged the mound and both benches emptied. The brawl lasted five minutes, with Russell and Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda eventually ejected.


This is not the best place to start when discussing McGraw's outstanding 1980 season. McGraw, however, is quick to bring it up and get it out of the way before talking about his relief work that has kept the Phils in the thick of the National League East race.


McGraw just can't get that game out of his mind. He mentioned it again last night after he put out a ninth-inning fire that enabled the Phils to edge the Giants 4-3.


"That was the first time in my entire professional career that I ever lost my temper on the mound because of something I allowed to happen,'' said the 38-year-old McGraw. "Trying to intentionally walk a guy and throwing a pitch close enough for him to hit was my fault. I've always felt it was unprofessional to intentionally try to throw at a batter for the purpose of hitting him. I still feel that way.


"I was very embarrassed and ashamed I allowed myself to lose my temper like that on the mound. After it was all over and I went home that night, I was extremely disappointed in myself. The next day I sent an apology to Russell. I have seen other pitchers do it and never could understand how they let themselves be that way, but now I think I understand it a little better. I will always look back on that as one of the most embarrassing moments of my career."


Russell was ejected because he charged the mound; Lasorda was thumbed by umpire John McSherry because he argued about his player's ouster.


McGraw was allowed to remain in the game.


"There should be some sort of a rule change in there," said McGraw. ' Maybe they should follow the National Hockey League rules. When two guys are involved in something for any reason, if any other players interfere, they are automatically ejected. That would eliminate the bench-emptying episodes."


With that off his chest, the zany McGraw was agreeable to discuss his great year out of the bullpen.


During July and August, McGraw allowed just two earned runs during 26 innings of work for an 0.69 earned run average during that span. Last night he struck out Mike Ivie for the third out in the ninth inning to preserve Dick Ruthven's Uth victory. Last year McGraw was in 65 games, had a 5.14 ERA and even though he led the staff with 16 saves, tied a National League record by giving up four grand-slam home runs.


"My kids would come home from school and ask what their friends meant when they said I was One-Pitch McGraw," Tug kidded. "I told them I would tell them when they got older."


BECAUSE OF INJURIES, especially to reliever Warren Brusstar, the Phils' pitching staff in 1979 was a shambles. The use of the bullpen followed no pattern at all.


"And because of that, says McGraw, "I think we were all inconsistent. This may sound like a ioke, but if you could take away those home-run innings, I would have had a helluva year. Jim Kaat used to say that when you're real young and have a year like that, they say it's because of inexperience. When you're up to my age. they say it's because you're getting old."


All last winter the Phillies' front office searched for a left-handed reliever and kept telling people strengthening the bullpen was their main objective.


"I didn't let that bother me because I only learned of things like that from the newspapers," said McGraw, who came to the Phillies from the New York Mets prior to the 1975 season. "I had a good off-season conditioning program, worked hard at it, and was determined to have a good year.


"I don't look at what has happened this season as a comeback or a surprise. I am a good pitcher. I have a lot of experience (13 years) and know how to get batters out. When I was in Japan last November, all the other players on the tour told me I was throwing as good as ever and they didn't know why everybody was worried about me.


"This year Dallas (Manager Dallas Green) is using the bullpen much more consistently. Everyday is just as much fun for me as it was when I first started. The only thing that is tough for a veteran is learning the new hitters."


McGraw, who built his reputation with the screwball, does not use it as much as he used to. He has excellent command of the scroogie, fastball, curve and slider and because of that, is more effective against right-handers than lefties.


"Two years ago I injured my arm in Montreal," he said. "When I returned. I could not extend it as much as I used to. So, I was able to start throwing my curve instead of the scroogie: As a result, I got my old curveball back. That gave me four pitches and once the screwball came back, I didn't have to use it as much and that took a lot of strain off my arm."


McGraw is on the final year of his contract with the Phillies and there is a good chance he will become a free agent to test his market value.


"I prefer to stay in Philadelphia." he said. "I do not have an agent and have asked the Phils not to negotiate my contract during the season. Last year Greg Gross, who wanted to stay in Philly, tested the market, felt the Phils' offer was fair and remained here. I might do the same thing. If they give me an offer that is comparable to what other teams think I am worth, I will stay.


"But right now I do not want to think about that. I have been frustrated since 1976 because this is the greatest group of players, talent-wise, I have ever been associated with. The fact that we have not won more than three division championships is something that gnaws at me. I think with the talent and the experience we have, we are in an excellent position to win it this year. It's going to go down to the wire, but we're going to be on top."