"Bruce Sutter, where are you when we need you?" the beleaguered Cub fans of this town cried today.
The Philadelphia Phillies won their 10th straight game, clobbering inept Cub relievers for home runs in the eighth, ninth and 11th innings for a 10-7 victory.
It was lefty Willie Hernandez who gave up the two-run blasts to Jay Johnstone in the eighth (to cut a 6-3 Cub lead to 6-5) and pinch-hitter Dave Johnson in the ninth (to tie the game 7-7).
But ancient Dave Giusti, acquired to ease the pain until Sutter, the bull-pen superman, returns Aug. 23 from the disabled list, dished up a three-run clout to Bake McBride with one gone in the 11th to decide the game.
In all, it was a dismal day for the Cubs, who fell five games behind the Phils, the folks they led by 8 1/2 games on June 28.
Cub manager Herman Franks threw in the towel in the fourth inning. And gloves, helmets and batting gloves. In fact, Franks threw everything within his chubby reach onto the grass after umpire John Kibler ejected him for questioning a checked-swing strike call.
As if giving up two gopher balls in the clutch were not bad enough. Hernandez also tried to field a Mike Schmidt double down the line as it rolled through the bullpen while he was warming up. He flubbled that, too.
The Phils played the game under portest, arguing that Schmidt should have been awarded an extra base, because Hernandez got his glove on the ball while it was still in play.
Johnstone made the protest a short one, driving both Schmidt and himself home with a drive into Sheffield Avenue.
The Phils tried their best today to snap their winning streak. First-baseman Richie Hebner missed a popup, letting it fall for a single that led to two unearned runs. Third baseman Schmidt bothced a grounder in the eighth that let another unearned run score to give the Cubs a 7-5 lead going to the ninth.
But Ted Sizemore led off the Phils' ninth with a double into the left-field vines and Johnson, who a year ago was playing in Japan, lofted a none-out drive that a 15 mile-per-hour, straight-out wind helped over the fence in the left-field corner. It was the only one of nine Phil homers in the first two games of this series, that did not go to right.
The Phils tried to help in other ways. Center fielder McBride, subbing for Gray Maddox, who is out at least three weeks, let two routine long flies fall in for back-to-back triples that led to two runs.
But the Cubs, who have now lost 10 of 14 games to drop from first to third place, were even more generous. Phils starter Randy Lerch, a 22-year-old lefty with a world of stuff and no poise or confidence, allowed five walks, five singles, a double, two triples, a 420-foot Manny Trillo homer, a balk and a sacrifice fly to the first 26 Cub batters. Somehow, he left the game trailing only 3-2.