Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Phils Transformed: Worst to First 26 1/2 Games out in '92, Philadelphia Wins First NL East Title since 1983

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Phils Transformed: Worst to First 26 1/2 Games out in '92, Philadelphia Wins First NL East Title since 1983

Article excerpt

The Philadelphia Phillies waited 10 years to win the National League Eastern Division. They are not the sort to wait another night.

Len Dykstra got them going Tuesday with four hits and three runs batted in. Mariano Duncan finished it with a dramatic grand slam in the seventh inning as the Phillies clinched with a 10-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Philadelphia completed a remarkable worst-to-first turnaround. A year ago, they were in sixth place, 26 1/2 games behind the division champion Pirates.

The Phils clinched 10 years to the day since they last won the NL East.

"It's a great feeling after the year we had last year," said manager Jim Fregosi, whose club nearly squandered a 14 1/2-game August lead over Montreal. "It's really gratifying to come back and win the division. These guys wanted to win it tonight.They were going to do whatever was needed."

The Phillies could have waited for second-place Montreal to lose again, backing into their sixth NL East title since division play began in 1969. But that wouldn't have been the way for these rough-and-tumble Phils.

"They had to do it, and they did it," Fregosi said. "Tonight was an example of the way we battled tough all year. Now we can get a few days' rest and get ready for the playoffs."

The Phillies will play either Atlanta or San Francisco when the NL playoffs start Oct. 6 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

"It doesn't make any difference (who we play). We start the playoffs at home, so that's not a factor," Fregosi said.

Appropriately, it was Dykstra who showed the way with a go-ahead bases-loaded walk and his usual aggressive style.

Phils rookie pitcher Mike Williams failed to hold a 3-1 lead as the Pirates went ahead 4-3 in the sixth.

But Darren Daulton and Jim Eisenreich singled to start the seventh against lefthanded rookie Rich Robertson (0-1), who then made a crucial mistake by trying to get Daulton at third on Milt Thompson's sacrifice. He didn't, and the bases were loaded with none out. …

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