When Nolan Ryan took the mound against the Dodgers on that Saturday in late September, his primary goal was to win and keep the Astros at least 1 1/2 games ahead of the Reds in the National League West. Even though the Astros had started the season poorly, the mid-season strike in 1981 and the resulting "split season" playoff format had kept alive the Astros' hopes of reaching the post-season. Ryan's start against the Dodgers was the NBC Game of the Week and was broadcast to a national audience. NBC was not disappointed. Ryan hurled the fifth no-hitter of his career, breaking a tie with Sandy Koufax for the most career no-hitters. Most of all, the win kept the Astros ahead of the Reds with just eight games left to play. The Astros would go on to win the "second half" and meet the Dodgers in the first-ever National League Divisional Series. Although the Astros were unable to beat the Dodgers, Ryan finished the season as the National League's ERA leader with a microscopic 1.69 ERA.