Wilmington Morning News - September 9, 1980
Phillies win ‘big’ one over Pirates 6-2
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA – Big game? Dallas Green says they're all big at this stage of the season. But the Phillies' 6-2 victory over the slump-ridden Pittsburgh Pirates last night was bigger than most.
"Needless to say, I'm happy," said the Phils' manager. "Everybody tries to make it a big series when the Phillies and Pirates get together, but they're all big series now, no matter who you play. We like to beat the Pirates because they're one of the teams we have to beat to win."
The victory pulled the Phils within a half-game of the idle Montreal Expos, and pushed the Pirates two games behind Green's second-place Phils.
Winner Tug McGraw wasn't as nonchalant as his manager.
"You kidding?" he asked a "how-big-is-it?" questioner. "Every game you win now is absolute, no matter who you're playing. And if you don't win, you have to forget it and act like you won."
The Phils didn't need to apply for Screen Actors Guild memberships last night, though McGraw went through a series of motions – both dramatic and comedic – before getting out of bases-loaded jam in the ninth after the Phillies put it away in the eighth against the Pirates' once-invincible bullpen combo of Enrique Romo and Kent Tekulve.
McGraw thought he'd struck out John Milner to end the game but wound up walking him after umpire Gerry Crawford disagreed.
The next batter, Ed Ott, wound up singling off McGraw's glove after thinking he'd drawn a walk several pitches sooner.
Ott's disagreement with Crawford ended with a postgame confrontation that had umpires and cops separating Ott and Crawford.
The umpires giveth and the umpires taketh away," said McGraw. "You have to learn to accept what they give you to make up for what you think they take away from you."
The Phils got a lot from Romo as the first three men the reliever faced all singled, with Greg Luzinski scoring Bake McBride with the eventual gamewinner.
Tekulve intentionally walked Garry Maddox before Larry Bowa bounced a two-run double over first baseman Milner's head for the insurance runs.
McGraw's sacrifice bunt with the bases loaded got home the final run.
"Don't blame the bullpen," said Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner. "They'll come back. Bowa's double was just a matter of a high chopper over a drawn-in infield, that's all."
But that was enough.
"I didn't consider batting for Bo," said Green. "Call it a hunch but I just felt he'd find a way to do something."
The Bucs didn't find a way to do much against Phils starter Bob Walk, who kept the Pirates off-balance – and limited them to just one hit – in the first four innings.
Even Milner's line-drive homer to right that snapped a scoreless tie in the fifth didn't mar the rookie's fine effort.
And when the Phils took a 2-1 lead in the sixth, Walk looked like he might trot home. But the Pirates – and Green – had other ideas once Pittsburgh tied the game in the seventh.
Back-to-back doubles by Dave Parker (off the wall in right center) and Mike Easier made it 2-2 and the Phils' manager promptly brought in McGraw, whos been virtually unhittable since returning from the disabled list.
But Tug walked Milner, bringing up Ott. Nobody, least of all McGraw, had forgotten the grand slams Milner and Ott hit off Tugger last season.
"Don't think I didn't know it," said McGraw, smiling. "And there were 40,000 (and 576) people in the stands tonight to remind me."
This time McGraw got the left-handed Ott on a routine fly to center for the second out and Phil Garner's grounder to Bowa ended the Pirate rally.
The Phils didn't exactly hammer Bucs' starter Don Robinson, who came in with a 3-1 record against the Phillies – and 5-8 overall.
Robinson lasted just two-thirds of an inning in his last start against Houston, allowing five runs, but he blanked the Phils for five innings last night.
But the Phils squeezed two runs out of Robinson in the sixth, triggered by Mike Schmidt's 37th homer.
Actually, Bake McBride started the inning with his third hit of the game, a sizzler that came within a whisker of Robinson's head as it sailed into center field.
But McBride was out stealing on an abortive hit-and-run (Schmidt didn't swing) before Schmidt skied his 22nd Vet homer to dead center. The homer tied Deron Johnson's club mark for Vet homers in a single season (set in 1971) but, more important, seemed to strike a spark in the club's dormant bats.
Manny Trillo lofted a two-out fly to left center that Easier seemed to catch, then lost as he rolled over after, hitting the AstroTurf. That snapped Trillo's 0-for-17 tailspin.
Maddox, with just two hits in his last 26 at-bats, followed with a single to right and Trillo beat Parker's throw to the plate to give Walk a 2-1 lead that evaporated in the next inning.
"Bob pitched super tonight," said Green. He's just a little tired and it shoves up in the sixth and seventh innings, like it did tonight. But he gives you all he's got when he's in there. The way he's pitched his last two starts against L.A. and Pittsburgh is a credit to him."
And a relief for the Phillies, who got a victory from a reliever last night.
"It's always nice to get your first win," said McGraw. "I didn't get my first win in 1973 until August and we (Mets) lost in the seventh game of the World Series.
“This year I didn't get my first win until September, so we'll probably win the World Series. There HAS to be an omen in there somewhere, even if I have to make one up."
EXTRA INNINGS - McBride was 2-for-25 before rapping out four straight hits last night... Pirates have lost 12 of their last 14 games and 16 of 21... Steve Carlton faces the Bucs' John Candelaria in tonight's 8:15 game that will be telecast nationally by NBC but blacked out locally.