Phillies Suffer Fight-marked Loss To Mets

Posted: August 10, 1990

NEW YORK — In the middle of the fifth last night, the Phils had a two-run lead over the Mets. Pat Combs was pitching well. Dwight Gooden, pitching before a huge Shea Stadium crowd, was not. His control was erratic. He had hit two batters.

After Gooden stepped into the batter's box to lead off the bottom of the fifth, Combs hit him with his first pitch. Then Gooden hit Combs with his fist. Then a 20-minute brawl broke out. The game, which the Mets won, 5-4, was never the same.

Gone was the Phillies' battery of lefthander Combs and catcher Darren Daulton, ejected from the game. In was the battery of righthander Darrel Akerfelds and catcher Tom Nieto. The Mets are vulnerable against lefthanders. Their big bats devour righthanders. They scored four sixth-inning runs off Akerfelds, who took the loss.

"We needed that," said Mets catcher Mackey Sasser, who wore his defensive equipment during the brawl. "We needed something to spark us."

Mets manager Bud Harrelson said there was no question that the two hit batsmen by Gooden were mistakes.

"He had his worst control of the year," Harrelson said.

Gooden concurred.

But Combs said he didn't know what Gooden was trying to do. What mattered, Combs said, were the facts: Gooden, one of the hardest throwers in baseball, had hit two Phils.

"It's a family business," Combs said. "When you have a team, you have a family - they're like your brothers. That's baseball."

Asked if anybody had gotten hurt in the melee, Phillies manager Nick Leyva said: "Only our roster."

After the melee, Combs was thrown out, Daulton was thrown out and Cook was thrown out.

"We lost our pitcher, our catcher and our next pitcher," Leyva said.

That's why Leyva had to go to Akerfelds.

Akerfelds did fine in the fifth, but in the sixth, the Mets connected for four post-fight runs off Akerfelds and took a 5-3 lead. The runs came on a two-run homer by switch-hitter Howard Johnson, batting from the left side, and a two-run double by 30-year-old rookie Kelvin Torve, a lefthanded hitter.

Leyva wished he could have used Cook. But he couldn't. Combs, Cook, Daulton and Phils bullpen coach Mike Ryan were thrown out of the game. So were three Mets - Gooden, Tim Teufel and Darryl Strawberry, who was the major force in the melee.

"We've had our scuffles with these guys in the past," Sasser said. ''Dwight told me he wasn't trying to hit anybody, and I believe him."

Leyva wasn't so sure.

"I've got two players with welts," Leyva said. "He's got better control than that."

The Phillies made the already intriguing game fascinating in the eighth and ninth innings. The score was 5-4 in the eighth after Len Dykstra, who had his fourth four-hit game of the year, stroked a two-out single to left to score Charlie Hayes from third.

Then came the ninth. Facing Mets southpaw John Franco, Von Hayes singled to left. Dale Murphy followed with a bloop single to shallow center, moving Hayes to second.

John Kruk was due up, but Leyva sent up a righthanded hitter, Sil Campusano, instead. His assignment was to bunt the runners over. He was in search of his first successful sacrifice of the season. He whiffed.

"He didn't even come close," said Leyva.

Tom Herr was next. He hit a checked-swing ground ball, moving Von Hayes to third, while Murphy was being forced at second.

Franco got two strikes on Charlie Hayes, who already had gotten hits three times. But not this time. Hayes grounded out, and the game was over.

The brawl had cost the Phils dearly.

In the third, the Phillies tied the game on a Dykstra-created run.

Dykstra began the inning with a double to left and took third on a Daulton single. When Von Hayes hit a ground ball to first, first baseman Dave Magadan grew distracted by Dykstra's antics on the third-base line. The Phillies' best baserunner was more than a third of the way down the line, sort of jumping up and down, bobbing his head toward home. Magadan froze to catch Dykstra's act, then threw to second to get Daulton. Dykstra dashed home with the game-tying run.

In the fourth, when the Phils took a 3-1 lead, Dykstra produced again. With two out and runners on first and second, Dykstra went to the opposite field again, lining a double into the left-field corner to score two runs.

The Phillies were not facing vintage Gooden. His location was poor as he worked count after count full. He hit Dickie Thon on the left elbow in the second inning and hit Herr in the back in the fifth.

Logically, it would seem that the hit batsmen were mistakes.

Thon's career nearly ended when he was hit in the head in 1984, and he has been hit by pitches only three times since then, counting last night. If a pitcher is going to throw at somebody, it's not likely to be Thon. Moreover, Gooden had two out and a runner on first, and there was no score in the top of the second - not the time to hit somebody.

And when Herr was hit, there were two out in the fifth, the Phils leading, 3-1, and Charlie Hayes on deck - not the time to hit somebody, either.

But there was bad blood left over from Wednesday's game - and there is a tradition of fierce competitiveness between the Mets and Phils. On Wednesday, Von Hayes was brushed back and sent spinning by a Dave Cone pitch in the first. On Cone's first trip to the plate, Don Carman threw his first pitch behind Cone's head.

When Gooden came to the plate in the fifth, he seemed to expect that Combs would hit him, and that's what happened. Combs' first pitch was directly at Gooden's left leg, and Gooden didn't budge. The ball struck him on the knee, and he charged out to the mound and assaulted Combs, who attacked back. Then Daulton jumped on both of them.

Immediately, all the players and coaches came running out of the dugouts and bullpens, and a true brawl occurred. Strawberry, who is one of Gooden's best friends, and Daulton started swinging - hard - at each other. Sixty men were shoulder-to-shoulder and chest-to-chest. When, after a few minutes, the melee would seem to subside, it would start again, usually with Strawberry breaking loose from the two or three players holding him back, to go after a Phillie.

After the explosion, Akerfelds retired the side in the fifth.

But in the sixth, the righthander gave up four runs to the Mets. Johnson cranked a two-run homer to tie the game at 3. After the homer, Akerfelds allowed a single to Tom O'Malley and a double to Sasser, bringing pinch-hitter Torve, seeking his first National League hit, to the plate. Torve found it in a significant way, lashing a double to the gap in right-center, scoring the two baserunners and giving the Mets a 5-3 lead.

*

The Phillies yesterday acquired a pitching prospect from the Atlanta Braves organization, 23-year-old righthander Tommy Greene, in exchange for 24-year- old outfielder Jim Vatcher.

Both were part of Friday's Jeff Parrett-for-Dale Murphy trade. The Phillies still owe the Braves a minor-leaguer. Phillies general manager Lee Thomas said yesterday that the player would be named next month. He is expected to be shortstop Victor Rosario.

Greene will report to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons in triple A tomorrow, and Vatcher reported to the Braves yesterday. The deal could not become official until both cleared waivers, which they did this week.

Tonight's pitchers in Montreal will be Terry Mulholland (6-5, 4.24 ERA) for the Phillies and Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd (6-4, 3.05 ERA) for the Expos.

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