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A-Rod, Johnny Damon put Yankees on brink of 27th Series title

Big League Stew

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Score and situation: Yankees 7, Phillies 4 Yankees lead series 3-1

Leading lads: Alex Rodriguez got the big hit to put the Yankees ahead in the ninth, but it doesn't happen unless Johnny Damon(notes) singles and then steals two bases on the same play in one of the "What-the-heck?" World Series moments.

Damon's at-bat against Brad Lidge(notes) was killer, too, where he spoiled a hard slider on 1-2, then worked the count full until he laced a 3-2 fastball into left field for a single.

Mariano Rivera(notes) jumped right in a half-inning later and retired the Phillies in order. He's needed only 13 pitches to get five outs over two appearances so far.

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Head hanger: Bushy bearded Lidge hadn't allowed a run in over a month (eight straight appearances, playoffs and regular season).

Key play: Of course, Damon's single and steals are mere footnotes unless A-Rod comes through with the double against Lidge. A-Rod came into his ninth-inning at-bat 1-for-13 in the World Series.

Key stat: The Yankees are one victory from their 27th championship and first since 2000.

What they're talking about: It appeared Charlie Manuel's tactic of using Joe Blanton(notes) instead of Cliff Lee(notes) was working out. The Phillies hit CC Sabathia(notes) just enough and got to Joba Chamberlain(notes) in the eighth, tying the score on Pedro Feliz's(notes) solo homer — putting themselves in great shape to win in the bottom of the ninth. Lidge just couldn't get that third out without giving up the lead.

What they're saying:

"I saw Feliz, the way he caught the ball; I knew third base was wide open." — Johnny Damon

What's next: It's Cliff Lee Day again in Philly on Monday, as the Phillies try to force the Series back to New York starting at 7:57 ET. Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett(notes) can apply the knockout punch.

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