Washington Post writer Thomas B. Edsall and Post photographer Linda Wheeler have been named the top winners in the 1981 Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Front Page Awards contest.

Edsall won the Grand Award and first prize in the category of national news for his articles on the subject of tax leasing. Wheeler received the Grand Award and first prize in the picture story category for her photographs of a street robbery.

Other writing awards went to Patricia E. Bauer of The Post, who won first prize in the local news category for her stories on Virginia lieutenant governor candidate Nathan Miller; Mike Sager of The Post, who won first prize for overall excellence in the features category, and Larry Carsen of The Baltimore Sunpapers, who won first prize in the investigative category for an expose on subsidized housing. The award for public service went to Glenn Frankel of The Post for his stories on Virginia's Western State Hospital.

First prize in commentary went to Dan Rodricks of the Sunpapers, while Post writer Dave Kindred won first prize in the sports category for his story on a crippled jockey. Jane Leavy of The Post won the Frank Porter Labor Reporting Award for her coverage of the baseball strike, and James Shevis of the AFL-CIO won first prize in the category of nondaily labor reporting.

Other first prize photography awards went to The Post's Douglas Chevalier for "Amy's Goodbye," winner in the national news category, and to The Post's Larry Morris, who won in both the feature and pictorial categories. First prize in sports photography went to Irv Phillips Jr. of the Sunpapers, while Jed Kirschbaum of the Sunpapers won first prize in the portrait category.

Honorable mentions in the various writing categories went to Post writers Howie Kurtz, then of The Washington Star; Blaine Harden, Tony Kornheiser, Chip Brown, Loretta Tofani, Al Kamen, Joe Pichirallo, Sandra Boodman, Michel McQueen and Jane Seaberry, and Sunpapers writers Paul Mindus, Nancy Minkoff, Dan Berger and Sandra McKee.

Honorable mentions in the photography categories went to Post photographers Gerald Martineau and Ray Lustig and Sunpapers photographers J. Pat Carter, Walter McCardell Jr., Irv Phillips Jr. and Jed Kirschbaum.

Judges for the writing awards included Saul Friedman of Knight-Ridder, Greg Gordon of UPI, Dale McFeatters of Scripps-Howard and Marlene Cimons of The Los Angeles Times. Photography judges included Maurice Johnson of the Senate Press Gallery; free-lancer Fred Maroon and Norm Matheny of The Christian Science Monitor.