Don Carman, in his eighth start for the Philadelphia Phillies, was almost perfect.
A long fly ball by Bob Brenly to open the bottom of the ninth Wednesday at San Francisco that an experienced center fielder might have caught, went for a double and ruined the 6-foot 3-inch left-hander's bid for a perfect game.
Carman (6-4) became the winner when Juan Samuel homered off Mike Krukow (12-7) in the 10th to give the Phillies a 1-0 victory over the Giants. Steve Bedrosian pitched a perfect 10th for his 17th save.
Through eight innings, Carman needed only 100 pitches to retire 24 Giants in succession. But Brenly hit his second pitch in the ninth for a high drive to center. Milt Thompson appeared to have trouble finding the ball in the late afternoon sun, and it bounced off his glove just before he reached the fence in center.
It was the second time Brenly has broken up a no-hitter by a Philadelphia pitcher. In 1982, he singled with two out in the eighth to spoil Steve Carlton's bid.
"When Brenly first hit it, I was sure it was going to be a home run," Carman told the Associated Press. "I was thinking about going from a perfect game to a loss in one pitch.
"I started him off with a curve. The second pitch was a fastball that was supposed to be down and away, but it was chest high and right over the middle. I was lucky."
Thompson, obtained from Atlanta in an off-season trade after playing 73 games for the Braves last season, was brought up from Portland of the Coast League last week.
"I thought I had a bead on it," Thompson said. "But the sun and wind confused me. When I put my glasses down I lost it. I feel real bad."
Carman, who was 27 last week, was the Phillies' best relief pitcher last season. But with the addition of Bedrosian and Tom Hume, two veteran relievers, Carman was used mainly in a mop-up role through the first half of the season.
Finally, when it became apparent the Phillies weren't about to challenge the New York Mets in the National League East, it was decided to try Carman as a starter.
On July 11 he made his first start. His first four were impressive. He won three and gave up only three earned runs in 25 innings. In his fifth start, he pitched well, but he made two balks and each of them cost him a run and a 2-1 defeat. Probably shaken by the experience, Carman was hit hard in his next two starts. Then came the almost perfect game.
The combined one-hitter was the third time the Giants have been shut out in a week. They have lost four of their last six and fallen 7 1/2 games behind Houston in the West.
Pittsburgh 4, Houston 1--Earlier in the season, the Astros had a chance to get Rick Rhoden, pitching ace of the Pirates. They decided the Pirates were asking too much for the 33-year-old right-hander.
Maybe the Astros made a mistake. Rhoden pitched a five-hitter at Pittsburgh, singled in a run to ignite a four-run second inning and pitched his eighth complete game. For the Pirates (48-72), the club with the worst record in the majors, Rhoden has a 14-7 mark.
Since the last time he begged the Pirates to trade him, Rhoden has won six of his last seven decisions.
Until Rhoden singled in the first run of the four-run second that beat Bob Knepper (15-9), Astro pitchers had a string of 34 scoreless innings against the Pirates.
Atlanta 8, Chicago 3--The Cubs are having as much trouble getting Braves' pitchers out as they are getting hits off them.
In two consecutive games at Chicago, Atlanta pitchers have had big days at the plate. Tuesday, Doyle Alexander hit a sacrifice fly and a key double.
On Wednesday, David Palmer (9-8) did even better with the bat. He had two singles, a double and drove in three runs.
Cincinnati 3, St. Louis 1--Bill Gullickson, pitching with just three days' rest because Mario Soto's arm was sore, had the Cardinals shut out at Cincinnati until Andy Van Slyke hit a home run in the ninth.
Van Slyke had half of the eight hits given up by Gullickson (10-8) before John Franco came in to get the final out.
Buddy Bell, whose 16-game hitting streak was halted Tuesday night by the Cardinals, hit a two-run home run in the fifth to put an end to Bob Forsch's six-game winning streak. It was the 15th homer for Bell and his sixth in the last six days.
San Diego 3, Montreal 2--Kevin McReynolds hit two home runs at San Diego to account for all the Padre runs. McReynolds, who has three home runs in two games, has driven in 12 runs in the last five games.