Errant Pitch Sends Phils Past Astros 2-1

An ill-timed wild pitch thrown by Houston pitcher Floyd Bannister allowed Garry Maddox to race home with the eventual game-winning run, and Philadelphia relief ace Ron Reed shut down the Houston offense over the final two innings to save the game for Dick Ruthven, as the Phillies edged the Astros 2-1 in a Saturday evening contest at the Vet.

In a pitching matchup that was first labeled as lopsided by pre-game pundits, Bannister held his own against no-hit hurler and All-Star participant Ruthven, giving up just seven hits and two runs over his six innings of work; after allowing an RBI single to Ted Sizemore in the second, he cruised through the ensuing four frames, during which a double steal by Maddox and Mike Schmidt provoked the wild pitch that would be the game’s deciding factor, and result in the Astros’ sixth loss in their last nine games.

Ruthven, meanwhile, was simply overpowering, scattering a handful of singles over six-plus innings of work and benefiting from the arm of catcher Bob Boone, who nailed Astro speedsters Puhl and Rafael Landestoy trying to steal in the first and fourth, extinguishing a pair of possible rallies. But a clutch RBI double by Denny Walling spoiled Ruthven’s shutout, and after Walling advanced to third on a groundout, suddenly the Astros had the tying run ninety feet from home and dangerous pinch-hitter Cesar Cedeno at the plate.

After a long conference on the mound between Ruthven, Phils manager Danny Ozark, and pitching coach Ray Rippelmeyer, Warren Brusstar was called in from the bullpen to put out the immediate fire, which he did by coaxing Cedeno to ground out weakly to catcher Boone for the inning’s third out. Ron Reed then came on to pitch the eighth and ninth, doing so flawlessly to preserve the win for Ruthven and the Phillies, and earn himself his ninth save.

For the hard-luck Bannister, it was his tenth loss on the year, in what was probably his most effective pitching performance of the past month. For the Phils, Maddox earned game MVP honors for his 3-for-3 night and game-winning run (which was set up by his 33rd stolen base of the season), while Landestoy and backup catcher Reggie Baldwin led all Astros batters with two hits apiece.

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