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Dodgers-Phillies playoff primer

Back at it after 25 years

October 07, 2008|Jim Peltz | Times Staff Writer

The playoff series between the Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies for the National League pennant comes 25 years after the teams last met in postseason play.

But from 1977 to 1983, the clubs faced off three times in the NL Championship Series, when it was a best-of-five playoff instead of the current best of seven.

The Dodgers beat the Phillies to win the pennant in 1977 and again in 1978. But the Phillies prevailed when the teams met in 1983. All three series were decided in four games.

It was the era of the Dodgers' Tommy John, Dusty Baker, Steve Garvey and Bill Russell against such Phillies stars as Steve Carlton, Greg Luzinski, Gary Matthews and Mike Schmidt.

The series also included the Dodgers' Davey Lopes, now a coach with Philadelphia, and the Phillies' Larry Bowa, now a coach with the Dodgers.

Here are some highlights of those three series:

1977

With new Manager Tom Lasorda, the Dodgers reached the series with a quartet of batters who slugged 30 home runs or more in the regular season: Baker, Garvey, Reggie Smith and Ron Cey.

After the teams split the first two games at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers won the third, 6-5, when they scored three runs in the ninth inning -- all with two out -- at old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

"They [the Dodgers] seemed to get the big hits" in the series, Bowa said during the Dodgers' workout Monday ahead of Thursday's opening game of this year's series.

The comeback started when veteran Vic Davalillo stunned the Phillies by dropping a bunt and another veteran, Manny Mota, followed with a double.

"That rally just came from out of the blue," recalled Dodgers historian Mark Langill.

Los Angeles then won the pennant in the rain, 4-1, when John -- who had a superb sinker -- threw a seven-hitter to out-duel another left-hander, future Hall of Fame member Carlton.

Baker hit his second home run of the playoffs and, with five hits and eight runs batted in overall, was selected the series' most valuable player.

The Dodgers then lost the World Series to the New York Yankees in six games.

1978

This time the first two games were in Philadelphia, but the Dodgers swept both.

Garvey hit two home runs in the opener, which the Dodgers won, 9-5, and John worked his magic again in the second game, tossing a four-hitter to win, 4-0.

It was Carlton's turn to shine in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium, as he beat Don Sutton and the Dodgers, 9-4.

The stage was set for more drama in Game 4. The score was tied, 3-3, and, with two out in the 10th inning and Cey on second base, Russell went to the plate.

On the Dodgers bench, Sutton turned to his teammates and said, "It's all over. Where's the champagne?"

Sure enough, Russell lined a single against reliever Tug McGraw, Cey scored, the Dodgers won, 4-3, and Los Angeles had its second consecutive league championship.

"Everybody remembers Cey chugging around the bases for that run and clinching the pennant," Langill said.

Garvey, with seven hits and seven RBIs in the four games, won the MVP honors.

But the Dodgers then lost their second consecutive World Series to the Yankees, again in six games.

1983

Carlton was still the Phillies' ace, which he demonstrated in Game 1 at Dodger Stadium by going 7 2/3 innings and beating Dodgers' starter Jerry Reuss, 1-0. The run came on a first-inning home run by Schmidt.

The Dodgers rebounded, 4-1, in the second game as Fernando Valenzuela -- a 15-game winner that year at age 22 -- shut down the Phillies with relief help from Tom Niedenfuer.

After the Phillies beat the Dodgers' Bob Welch in the third game, 7-2, Philadelphia delivered the knockout punch in Game 4 when Matthews hit a three-run home run against Reuss in the first inning.

At the same time, Carlton -- at age 38 and pitching on three days' rest -- surrendered only one run in six innings and the Phillies won the game, 7-2, and the pennant.

Matthews had six hits in the series, batted .429 and was selected MVP. One of his teammates, Pete Rose, also had six hits, and Schmidt had seven.

Philadelphia moved on to the World Series, but lost to the Baltimore Orioles in five games.

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james.peltz@latimes.com

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