Stan Musial, the National League record holder for total career hits, came to town to join in the Pete Rose watch, waiting for the inevitable moment when the Phillies' first baseman surpasses his total of 3,630 hits.
But tonight Musial stayed in his hotel -- presumably watching Rose on television -- and his record stayed intact. Rose entered the game five hits short of breaking the record and, although he has had eight five-hit games since joining the major leagues in 1963, tonight he got just one hit in three official at bats to increase his total to 3,627.
While Rose was extending his current hitting streak to 12 games, the Phillies held on to first place in the NL East with a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros.
More than two weeks ago, Rose predicted he would establish the NL record for total hits against Nolan Ryan, the right-hander who is scheduled to face Steve Carlton and the Phillies Wednesday night.
"The only thing that would bother me," Rose said then, "is if we were to go on strike for the rest of the season. That would be hard to take.
"I've known the record would come. It's just a matter of when and against what pitcher. I'd say I have a shot to do it against Nolan Ryan. I might as well set the record against a future Hall of Fame pitcher."
Typically, Rose suggested that journalists talk to teammate Larry Bowa, "because Bowa was the star of the game with his three hits and three RBI.
"I don't want this turning into like it was in Cincy when I had the hit streak going," said Rose, who came to Philadelphia from the Cincinnati Reds. "Guys came in from all over and forgot what the games were all about. All they did was spend time with me and they didn't pay attention to the other players. I never like that, and I don't want it to happen here."
He grounded out to second base his first time at bat against loser Don Sutton (4-7). In the third, Rose hit a single through the box.
"I told Sutton I hit a pretty good pitch," Pete said. "All he said to me was, 'Yeah, but that's what they pay you all that money for.'"
Rose drew his third intentional walk of the season in 213 times at bat in the fourth inning, much to the disgust of most of the 31,664 fans on hand. In the seventh inning, he grounded out to second again, this time off relief pitcher Dave Smith.
The Phils gave winner Dick Ruthven (8-3) a 2-0 lead in the second when Dick Davis singled, Garry Maddox doubled him to third and Bowa hit a two-run single to left center.
Jose Cruz hit his 10th homer of the year in the fourth to make it 2-1, but the Phils scored twoce in the fourth.
Davis beat out an infield hit to second and rookie Joe Pittman booted Maddox's grounder for an error. Bowa then drove in his third run of the game with a single, Maddox going to third and scoring on Bob Boone's sacrifice fly.
Cesar Cedeno's two-out, two-run single made it 4-3 in the fifth.
Sparky Lyle, Mike Proly and Tug McGraw finished up, McGraw getting his sixth save by keeping the tying and winning runs at second and third in the eighth.