Reading Eagle - May 30, 1980
Green’s Pencil Duller Than Tanner’s
Pirates Hold On To Beat Phillies, 5-4
By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – Dallas Green and Chuck Tanner penciled some unexpected names on their lineup cards for Thursday afternoon’s Businessman’s Special at the Vet.
Tanner had the sharper pencil.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, breaking the first-inning 3-3 tie with two in the fifth, held on to beat the Phillies 5-4 before 30,630, and continue the game of first-place leapfrog they’ve staged here all week.
The Pirates, who came to town Monday a game up on the Phillies (but even in the loss column), left town the same way, despite falling into second place twice in the series.
With Thursday’s game starting less than 15 hours after Wednesday’s finished, Green and Tanner trotted out some of the second-liners.
Green went with George Vukovich in right and Greg Gross in center because Bake McBride and Garry Maddox are bothered with aches. Tanner put Dale Berra at short and Mike Easler in left (they’ve seen more action).
O.K., so Berra’s errors on the Phils’ first batter of the game led to three unearned runs in the first. And the Phils took some liberties with Easler’s arm.
But Berra coaxed a bases-loaded walk to cap the Pirates’ three-run first, and grounded a single to right in the fifth to score the eventual winning run. And Easler, who won Tuesday’s game in the 13th, went 3-for-4 with an RBI in the first.
Meanwhile, Vukovich went 0-for-4 (including two strikeouts and a DP) and was off-line on two throws to home on which he had a shot at the runners. Gross had a walk that led to a run and a wasted double, but didn’t get to a first-inning single Maddox probably catches.
Green argued with a suggestion that it was risky business resting two regulars in the same game against the Pirates. “I know their physical problems, and I want to eliminate as much aggravation as I can.
“It’s tough to come out after a night game; I had to struggle, and I’m just the manager. In September, it would be different. I have faith in the guys I put out there; unfortunately one didn’t have a good day.”
The other unexpected name in the lineup – because of what Green had announced earlier – was hardly a master stroke. Dick Ruthven started on the mound and left after five innings of five-run, 11-hit ball. (The Pirates didn’t get anybody past first in the four innings against three relievers.)
Dallas had originally planned to keep Ruthven out till today in Chicago, giving him four days off.
“I was going to hold him a day because he complained of stiffness the last time,” Green explained. “But he asked to pitch against the Pirates. He said the stiffness was from his fall the game before that, and we confirmed it.
“Other than the first inning, when he was undercutting the slider, he pitched pretty decent baseball,” Green asserted. “Our problem was we didn’t get the hit at the right time. We had a mess of opportunities.”
Ruthven ‘Felt Great’
“I felt great,” Ruthven insisted. “There’ll be second-guessing about my starting, but the lack of an extra day had nothing to do with the outcome.
“Maybe over the long run both Lefty and myself might enjoy a five-man rotation, if we had our druthers. But this is May – and a Pirate series. I’m one of three starters left; I’ve got to pitch in this situation.
“They’re gonna get their hits,” Ruthven stressed. “They just happened to get them in succession (four straight singles with one out in the first). It was hard to see out there (the first two might have been caught) – and then I got that fourth ball to Berra a half-inch too high.”
Green calls Ruthven (now 5-4, 4.71) “pretty consistent. Carlton (8-2) is “very consistent.” But, says Dallas, “all the rest are patchwork. We’re gonna have to get away from that patchwork.”
With Larry Christenson (3-0) operated on Wednesday and “no encouraging hope” seen on Nino Espinosa, Green must now count on Randy Lerch “backing up last night’s performance” and on the two Oklahoma City newcomers, Dan Larson and Bob Walk. He says he would prefer to keep Dickie Noles in the bullpen because of his value there.
Meanwhile Tanner went with a rather unfamiliar name as his mound choice, Eddie Solomon, the refugee from Atlanta, making only his second start. With Jim Rooker shelved and Don Robinson still not in form, Chuck has only three starters he can count on – and one of those (Bert Blyleven) hasn’t won any of his nine starts.
Solomon was little more effective than Ruthven, but the Phillies’ inability to get people home from third enabled him to last through seven – then Enrique Romo repeated his fine effort of Tuesday for the save.
The Phils had runners on third with one out in the fourth and fifth and none out in the sixth, but none scored. They also left runners on second in the first and second.
Ruthven couldn’t get the ball past the shortstop in the fourth (Green disdained trying the suicide squeeze which worked Wednesday); Vukovich hit sharply into a DP in the fifth, and Boone was out at home on a grounder and then McBride hit into a DP as a pinch-hitter in the sixth.
The Phils did get another unearned run in the seventh, but that still left them one short. Their stock fell in the late afternoon like Dow Jones, as Romo set down six straight.
“I’m certainly happy with the way we’re playing,” said Green, who saw “no reason to be discouraged” by the split. “You guys always talk about our pitching problems, but we haven’t done too badly there.”
If Dallas can say the last sentence again in a month, he’ll certainly be happy. Since the season began, he’s been able to space his pitching because of 10 off days (eight scheduled, two rain). Between now and the All-Star break July 7, there are 37 games scheduled in 38 days.
PHIL-PHILLERS – Luzinski (infield single), Vukovich (forceout grounder) and Bob Boone (double) had the first-inning RBIs… Mike Schmidt’s sacrifice fly in the seventh game him 37 to tie Steve Garvey for the major-league lead… Ed Ott’s double, two feet from a homer, scored the go-ahead run in the fifth; Ott then tallied on Berra’s hit… Telecasts are scheduled from Chicago Saturday and Sunday afternoons, from Pittsburgh Tuesday and Wednesday nights… the four games drew 141,722.