While Pete Rose was trying to see how many swings he could take at balls during the major league strike, teammate Mike Schmidt was trying to see how few he could take.

While Rose was in Cincinnati, taking at least an hour of batting practice every day, Schmidt was playing golf near his home in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Now, Schmidt says one of the reasons for his recent home-run success -- six in the 12 games since the strike was settled -- is that he's applying the same mental process at home plate that he used on the links.

"The dynamics of the two sports are exactly the same," Schmidt said Sunday night after taking over the major-league lead with his 20th home run of the season, a grand slam that helped the Phillies beat the Astros, 6-0. It was his second home run in two days.

"The key to both sports is to relax and not try to overswing," said the third baseman. "If you try to crush it, you'll pop it up or hit it on the ground.

"In golf, you try to have a crisp, smooth, compact swing, as opposed to jumping at the ball, and it's the same thing hitting a baseball. If you make good contact, the ball will go.

"When I play golf, I just concentrate on hitting through the ball, making a smooth, fluid weight shift and not overswinging. And that's what I'm trying to do now."

Schmidt, 31, was hardly an instant success when he returned after the 50-day work stoppage. He struggled with the rest of the Phillies, who lost seven of their first nine games.

"I'm not thinking home runs now, which is probably why I'm getting them," he said. "If you go up there trying to knock it out of the park, it's usually not going to happen. I have to keep reminding myself that if I just hit the ball solid, make good contact, it will go . . .

"The ultimate temptation for a long-ball hitter is to go for the home run. I have to fight it all the time. I have to force myself to think contact, not hitting the ball out of the park."

If anyone in the National League has reason to think of home runs, to dream of the ball soaring over the fence, to believe he can do it any time, it is Michael Jack Schmidt.

In the last seven seasons, Schmidt, 6 foot 2, 203 pounds, has hit more home runs than anyone else in the major leagues -- 264, compared with 221 for No. 2, the New York Yankees' Reggie Jackson.

Schmidt leads the National League in slugging percentage and runs scored, as well as home runs. He's second to Cincinnati's George Foster in RBI and second to Pittsburgh's Bill Madlock in on-base percentage.

"The more success you have, the more you learn," he said. "Right now I have it, but a week ago I didn't."

How can an eight-year veteran who has led the league in home runs four times, a perennial Gold Glover, lose confidence?

"If I could answer that, I'd be a genius," Schmidt said, with a smile. "I'd also be driving in 500 runs a year. Hey, nobody has the answer to that.

"What separates Jack Nicklaus from another guy on the tour who can't get the ball in the fairway on the last hole when he's got a chance to win the PGA? I don't know, it's just something you feel, something you gain through experience. It's poise, I guess."

When asked the last time he thought he had lost his poise in a crucial situtation, Schmidt had a quick answer.

"It was last Tuesday in Cincinnati," he recalled. "We were struggling in that series and I came up with the bases loaded against (Tom) Seaver. It was the eighth inning and we were losing, 2-0.

"I went up there overeager," he said. "Seaver had hit me in the back with a pitch my last time up and I couldn't wait to get at him. I was thinking, 'Just let me up there so I can hurt him.'

"I was overanxious, I had lost my poise, I wasn't under control. So what happened? He jammed me, almost broke the bat off in my hands and I hit a little dribbler back to the mound for the third out. It showed a total lack of poise on my part."

Pressure is one of the biggest burdens of successful hitting and Schmidt says it was easier to hit last weekend after Larry Bowa's two-run single in the ninth gave the Phillies a 5-4 victory over Houston in the series opener.

"There was all this talk about us not trying because we have already clinched a playoff spot," he recalled. "We came home 2-7 and a lot of people were on us. Then, here we were, losing that first game to Houston. When Larry came through and won the game for us, it took a big load off of everyone's back. I know I relaxed a little and that's when I started hitting."

And how about the Schmidt house? What's the environment like in suburbia when daddy's in a slump?

"My performance doesn't affect my life away from the ballpark," said Schmidt, the father of a 3-year-old girl and a 1-year-old son. "Oh, I might have a frown on my face once in a while if I'm in a slump, but I'm a family man. I have a good home life and that's what's helped me have a good career."