Danny Ozark was fired today as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. The defending National League East champions who are mired in fifth place.

Dallas Green, a former Phillies pitcher and currently director of minor leagues and scouting for the club, was named interim manager for the final month of the season.

General manager Paul Owens made the announcement at a news conference shortly before the Phillies, who had dropped five straight and eight of nine games and fell under .500 for the season, faced the Braves in Atlanta.

Ozark, 55, who in his seven seasons with the Phillies had guided them to three consecutive East Division titles, saw the ax as his club slipped 12 1/2 games behind division-leading Pittsburgh. He was the senior manager in the National League.

"This change is an organizational move that owner Billy Carpenter and I decided to make after two or three days of deliberation," Owens said. "We were disappointed in the way the club has performed the past few weeks and felt that something had to be done."

Green, 45, who had a 20-22 major league record with the Phillies, New York Mets and Washington Senators in the 1960s, said he wants the team "to grind it out for the next 30 days and as professionals take a look in the mirror and see if they can't accomplish something with pride and dignity."

Ozark said he felt "disappointed in the way the players performed for me this year. I think I could have gotten more out of them but I couldn't find the answer."

Several key players were sidelined for extended periods during the season, including shortstop Larry Bowa, second baseman Manny Trillo, outfielder Greg Luzinski and pitchers Dick Ruthven and Larry Christensen.

Ozark said Owens informed him of his dismissal earlier in the day.

"It was a shock, of course, but I can't fault the organization for the way we played. I hope for the best for the ball club," Ozark said.

Bowa agreed that injuries and below-par performances by many of the players were the reasons for the Phillies' poor record, not Ozark.

"There were a lot of tears in the clubhouse," reported Bowa, who said he considered Ozark "not only my manager but a close friend. He was a players' manager who always stuck up for you. Don't blame him. It was the guys on the field and the injuries."