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EXCERPT | October 3, 1983

Waiting for Lefty

Steve Carlton earned his 300th victory, in silence

He had won two of his four Cy Young Awards in the past three seasons, but the 38-year-old lefthander was showing some wear, even as Philadelphia was running away with the National League East. Steve Wulf reported.

Underneath a full moon on Friday, Sept. 23, the Phillies' Steve Carlton beat St. Louis, his old team, 6--2 for his 300th career victory. But, though Carlton became only the 16th pitcher in history and the fifth in the last 59 years to reach that milestone, the accomplishment came off as flat as last night's champagne. Carlton may be headed for the Hall of Fame, but he bolted for the corridors under Busch Stadium like a common criminal, his hands shielding his face from camera flashes. Lefty hadn't said much of anything to the outside world in 10 years, and he wasn't going to start now.

The victory was the Phillies' eighth straight in a streak that would reach 10 by week's end. Through Sunday, Philadelphia had a four-game lead on Pittsburgh, with a magic number of three and a week to go.

This hasn't been the best of seasons for Carlton. He was 14--15 going into the game and had relinquished his role as staff ace to John Denny, who was 17--6. "Lefty has had a funny kind of year," says Claude Osteen, the Phillies' pitching coach and also the losing pitcher in Carlton's eighth, 44th and 68th victories. "His strikeouts are right up there, so you know he's not getting old. But his concentration hasn't been as sharp. He's made mistakes on pitches that he didn't used to make. But he's still the most amazing pitcher I've ever seen."

The Phillies would fall to the Orioles, four games to one, in the 1983 World Series. Carlton retired during the '88 season, his 24th, with 329 wins.

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Photograph by MANNY MILLAN

WHIFF OF SUCCESS Carlton finished his career with 4,136 strikeouts, a record for lefthanders until it was broken in 2004 by Randy Johnson.