The slumping Phillies, led by their deepest slumper, Mike Schmidt snapped a five-game losing streak last night on Steve Carlton's shaky 10-hit shutout of the San Francisco Giants. Schmidt, in a two-for-27 mide, opened the game with a leadoff homer in the first inning - his second homer in two nights as a leadoff man.
The Phils, three games ahead of Chicago, which lost, 9-7, to Cincinnati, now hope that Schmidt, half of their righthanded power pair, will be off on a tear.
The other half of the attack. Greg Luzinski, went hitless again last night and ran his string to six consecutive strikeouts before blasting a 15-foot check-swing popup.
The Giants, still one game behind Los Angeles, which lost to New York, 8-4, helped Carlton with at least three nutty pieces of suicidal base running.
The game ended with third-base coach Dave Bristol sending Nare Hill to his demise at the plate on a relay throw from Larry Bowa.
Carlton, another Phillie slumper, raised his record to 12-11, fanning four and walking one.
Just two night's ago, Schmidt was so despondent about a two-month sub-200 slump, capped by an 0-for-18 collar, that he sat in the Phillie clubhouse and tried to get moderately drunk.
"I've had three or four beers and I'm going to have three or four more," said Schmidt, who has hit more homers in the last four years (150) than any player. "I'm not leaving this locker room until I feel a whole lot better than I do now."
"Right now, I deserve every boo I get," said Schmidt. "If I was in the stands, I'd be carrying a 'Boo' sign in my pocket.
"I've always been able to regroup myself before," said Schmidt. "I've been so close to big games . . . People are catching balls they have no right to catch . . . Where are these outfielders playing me? On the warning track?
"If I can just get untracked, I know it'll start a month of just crushing the ball."
In hopes of getting Schmidt untracked Manager Danny Ozark batted Schmidt leadoff the last two night. On Friday, Schmidt hit four disgusting grounders straight to the third baseman. But once, with a man on, he unleashed a towering fly to center that carried 420 feet over the wall.
The oasis in the personal desert was on the horizon at least.
Last night Schmidt came alive in earnest. In his first at bat, leading off the game, a 1-2 curve ball off John montefusco jumped off his bat high into the night and landed in the Giant bullpen.
In the next half-inning, Schmidt, whose golden glove has also suffered during his dought, started a brilliant double play. Others might also have lunged and reached Marc Hill's noneout smash in the hole, but none would have transported it to second with such style.
Schmidt backhanded his flip 45 feet to second. The buzzing toss would never have gotten there so quickly with a routine windup and throw. Schmidt's momentum carried him - hatless - into shallow center field.
The Phils pushed their lead to' 3-0, courtesy of Steve Carlton's designated battery mate, Tim McCarver, in the fifth. After Bake McBride singled, McCarver swatted his second double of the night - a hit-and-run run-producer up the right-center alley.
McCarver then alertly took third on a bad sacrifice bunt attempt. After Montefusco grabbed Sizemore's bunt and faked McCarver took off again ad reached third with a slide.
The Giant defense had to pull in, and Carlton nudged a grounder into center that would have been an out if McCarver had still been at second.
Schmidt made two more brilliant defensive plays before the night was out - one a bare-hand scoop and throw of a smash off Carlton's shin.