Beat L.A.: 1983 National League Championship

The Phillies finally made it past the Los Angeles Dodgers and into the World Series on their third attempt. It was 1983 and an unlikely hero emerged in the Phillies post-season.

To see the Phillies and Dodgers play in 1983, you would have held little hope that the boys of Philly would be able to make it past the boys from L.A. Not only did Pete Rose and Gary Matthews have near hideous regular seasons, but the Dodgers went 11-1 against the Phillies during the regular season.

Matthews and Rose went a combine 1-for-8 in the series opener, but with Steve Carlton on the mound, the Phillies didn't need much offense. Carlton threw 7 2/3 shutout innings, giving up seven hits and no walks to keep the Dodgers at bay. Jerry Reuss, did much the same for the Dodgers, going eight innings and giving up five hits and three walks. The only difference was a solo home run from Mike Schmidt in the top of the first and Al Holland came on to finish off the game for the Phillies in perfect fashion as Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead in the series, with a road win.

While Rose's struggles continued in Game Two, Matthews' bat came alive and he finished the game 2-for-4 with a home run. John Denny pitched well for the Phillies, but was done in by a repeat of an improbable scenario. Just as had happened five years earlier, Garry Maddox misplayed a ball in center that led to three unearned runs for the Dodgers. That miscue, combined with a masterful outing from Fernando Valenzuela, who the Phillies normally hit pretty well, led the Dodgers to a 4-1 win and a series tie as the two teams headed off to Philadelphia.

After hearing boos for much of the season at The Vet, Gary Matthews picked a perfect time to turn all of that around. In Games Three and Four, Matthews would go a combined 4-for-7 with two home runs and seven RBI, which would ultimately gain him the series MVP Award.

Young Charles Hudson was the Phillies starter for Game Three and gave the Phillies a Carlton-like performance, throwing a complete game and allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out nine. The 24 year old rookie made his Major League debut against the Dodgers in May and threw six innings, giving up two earned runs, but suffered a loss in the game. Overall, his playoff appearance against L.A. was the third time that he had faced the Dodgers that season and he came into the game with a 4.26 ERA, having thrown 12 2/3 innings, allowing 11 hits, three walks and striking out ten.

Besides Matthews, Rose also came alive in Game Three, picking up three hits and scoring two runs as the Phillies beat L.A. 7-2 and took a 2-1 lead in the series.

The next day, the Phillies hoped to lock up the series with a repeat of the Game One pitching matchup. This time around, the Phillies had figured out Jerry Reuss and scored three first inning runs to put the Dodgers backs up against the wall. The two through five hitters in the Phillies lineup - Rose, Schmidt, Sixto Lezcano and Matthews - went a combined 9-for-17 with two home runs, six RBI and seven runs scored. When Carlton exited after six innings, Ron Reed and Al Holland handled the final third of the game, as the Phillies again won by a score of 7-2 and took the series in four games.

The win set up the I-95 Series with the Baltimore Orioles, which ended badly for the gang from the northern part of the highway. The Phillies started the series with a two-game split in Baltimore, but were then swept in three straight at The Vet, giving the Orioles the World Series Championship. It would be another ten years before the Phillies would head back to the post-season, only to have Joe Carter finish them off with one stunning blow.



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