The Philadelphia Phillies entered the 1981 Major League Baseball season as the defending World Series champion. However, a players’ strike from June 12 to Aug. 9 that season created a split season. After the regular season, the first-half division winner would face the second-half division titlist in a playoff series to determine the division champion. When the strike happened, the Phillies held a one-and-one-half-game lead on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League East (Philadelphia had been declared the first-half division winner).
On Sept. 24, 1981, the Phillies visited the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Dallas Green-managed Phillies defeated St. Louis, 14-6. Entering the top of the third, the Cardinals had a 1-0 lead.
By the time the Phillies took the field in the bottom of the third, Philadelphia assumed a 10-run advantage (11-1). The Phillies posted 11 runs on 11 hits and left two men on base. St. Louis had gone through four different pitchers in the top of the third.
Manny Trillo led off with a double to right field. Philadelphia starting pitcher Mark Davis sent a bunt to third base for a single as Trillo advanced to third. Lonnie Smith then singled to left field to drive-in Trillo (1-1 with zero outs) and Davis moved to second).
Pete Rose record the Phillies’ fourth-straight hit off Larry Sorensen, a single to left field (Davis to third and Smith to second). Gary “Sarge” Matthews stepped to the dish with the bases load and zero outs by driving-in Smith and Davis on a single to centerfield (Rose to third, 3-1 Phillies). Mike Schmidt followed Matthews’ RBI hit with a two-run single, plating Rose as Matthews advanced to second (4-1 Phillies amd no one out in the top of the third). Sorensen would then be replaced by Bob Shirley.
Well, Shirley would only last one batter. Bake McBride joined the Phillies’ continuous hit parade with a single to right-center, Matthews scored, and Schmidt moved over to third (5-1 Phillies). St. Louis manager Whitey Herzog replaced Shirely with Mark Littell (still no one out in the top of the third).
Bob Boone welcomed Littell by lining a single to centerfield to bring-in Schmidt and advance McBride to second (6-1 Phillies). Littell then walked Larry Bowa to load the bases. Next, Trillo returned for his second plate appearance of the frame and singled to centerfield, knocking-in McBride and moving Boone to third and Bowa to second (7-1 Phillies). Littell finally recorded the first out of the inning, but Davis’ groundout to force-out Trillo at second brought home Boone and moved Bowa to third (8-1 Phillies).
Littell recorded the second out by striking out Smith. However, Littell couldn’t end the threat there as he walked Rose. Next, Matthews singled to left field, driving home Bowa and Davis (10-1 Phillies).
Jim Otten came out of the St. Louis bullpen to replace Littell. Schmidt laced a single to right-center, scoring Rose and Matthews moved to second (11-1 Phillies). The top of the third finally ended when McBride grounded-out, second to first.
Matthews, Boone, and Trillo each posted three hits. Boone sent a baseball over the wall in the top of the fifth, a two-run shot of Otten, for his fourth home run of the season. Davis tossed seven innings to improve to 1-3.
Philadelphia finished the regular season 59-48, earning third place in the NL East during the second half. Even though the Cardinals had the best overall record in the NL East at 59-43, they actually missed the playoffs. The Montreal Expos clinched first place in the second half and met the Phillies in a best-of-five series for the division championship (the Expos took three-of-five).