Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
With the help of God, a couple of newspaper clippings and Tommy John's fast balls, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League championship tonight, smiling through rain that left the Phillies sad and soggy losers, 4-1.
Thus spoke Tommy Lasorda, a true believer in the Great Dodger in the Sky.
"It was a tremendous script and had to be written by God," said Lasorda, the Dodger organization man who ascended this year to the managerial throne held 23 seasons by Walt Alston. "To replace a man like that and get in the World Series the first year, it's the greatest thrill of my life."
Becoming the first team in National League championship history to win the playoffs after losing the opener at home, the Dodgers did it in three straight games - the last two in the Phillies' ballpark, daily stuffed with more than 63,000 crazies.
Winning the Dodgers' sixth pennant in the 20 L.A. years - their 15th in a proud history that began in Brooklyn - Lasorda said it was nice to do it in Philadelphia because of the silly things he'd read in the newspapers.
"Somebody sent me a clipping where Luzinski said we didn't belong on the same field with them." Lasorda said, irritation interrupting his normal ecstacy. "Any my brother sent me a clipping where Ozark said it'd be over in three games."
Greg Luzinski is the Phillies' bull of a hitter, Danny Ozark is the team's manager. They were not alone in their miscalculations on this best three of five series, for objective analysts said the Phillies matched up on the mound and were the Dodgers' superiors at bat and afield.
They reckoned not with what? Fat? Luck? God? Only a pitch away from victory in Game 3, two runs up and two men out, the Phillies suddenly fell apart and let the Dodgers win 6-5. Tonight trying to get even, the Phillies seemed lifeless and were, in fact, nearly helpless against John.
A 20-game winner in his second season after arm surgery that replaced a ruptured ligament in his pitching arms with a tendon borrowed from the other arm, John gave the Phillies only seven hits tonight, struck out eight men and even did a wonderful impression of Al Hrabosky, the St. Louis Cardinals' mad relief pitcher.
John did that in the second inning. In the top of the inning, left fielder Dusty Baker had struck his second home run of this playoff, giving LA a 2-0 lead and setting a playoff record for runs batted in (eight, one more than Hank Aaron in 1969). Baker, by the way, was named the playoffs outstanding player.
In the bottom of the second, the Phillies used three singles to load the bases. With two out, John faced the Phillies' starting pitcher, Steve Carlton, perhaps baseball's best hitting hurler.
Nibbling at the corners as is his style, John found himself at a 3-and-2 count. Save for the handful of Dodgers' fans allowed in the park, the 64,924 paying customers did a reprise of their vocalities of the day before when their roars so unnerved Dodger pitcher Burt Hooton that he walked four straight men, giving the Phillies three runs.
But Hooton is 27, John is 34, and the old man didn't crack. He backed off the mound.
"Joe Namath taught me that when you can't hear the catcher's fingers, back off," Al Hrabosky would've done there."
What John did was throw a third strike past the swinging Carlton. Then John lightfooted it toward the Dodger dugout, a fist raised in defiant reply to the yowling that he transformed into a great silence.
Two hours before the scheduled game time, the artificial turf field had been covered with a tarpaulin against a steady but light rainfall.
The start of the game was delayed 17 minutes and the umpires thought to delay it after two innings, but changed their minds. The rain never stopped and the Dodgers, winners, said they'd played in worse conditions. The rain seemed to make no difference in the outcome, though some Phillies groused about the conditions.
In the rain, the Dodgers were able to score four runs against Carlton, the Phillies' 23-game winner. Their last two runs came in the fifth inning when they used one solid hit and assorted Carlton difficulties to make a rainout seem the Phillies' best hope.
Baker, on with a walk, and Steve Yeager, who singled, were on first and second with two out when Carlton threw a wild pitch on a 3-and-2 count to Davey Lopes. The walk was bad enough, but to make it worse, the ball bounced crazily off the backstop and eluded Phil catcher, Tim McCarver so long that Baker was able to score all the way from second base.
With Yeager then a third, Bill Russell put down a bunt that Carlton, slipping on the muddy mound, couldn't reach. That was L.A.'s last run of the night.
John gave up his only run in the fourth inning when Richie Hebner's double followed a Luzinski single, putting the Bull in position to score on an infield out. Only once after that did the Phillies get two men on base, that happening in the eighth inning when Maddox beat out a two-out chopper. But pinch-hitter Jerry Martin tapped weakly into a force play. That failure elicited boos from the Philly faithful.
And in the ninth, John set the Phils down in order, striking out the game's last hitter.
For the Dodgers, sorry runners-up to the Cincinnati Reds a year ago, victory was sweet and Lasorda loved it.
God's "tremendous script," as Lasorda recited it, including Ron Cey's record 29 April RBI, a major-league record four men with 30 home runs, a Tommy John who won 20 games with a left arm made possible by his right, and a record attendance of nearly 3 million at home.
"And," Lasorda said, ecstatic again, "we knocked out the Big Red Machine that was supposed to be a dynasty. I just thank God. It's been a wonderful season."