Phillies outlast Rays, capture World Series title

PHILADELPHIA (TICKER) —The Philadelphia Phillies emerged from two days of rain and brought sunshine to the City of Brotherly Love.

Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz each drove in a run in the resumption of Game Five on Wednesday to lift the Phillies to a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, clinching their first World Series title since 1980 and the second in franchise history.

J.C. Romero (2-0) picked up the win and Brad Lidge completed his perfect season with a scoreless ninth for Philadelphia, which took the series, four games to one.

“It’s honestly very hard to control the emotions right now,” Lidge said. “I mean, this is so incredible, I’m so happy to be here. These fans are amazing and my teammates are the best in the world and I couldn’t be happier right now.

“I just did everything I could to try and take (my regular season success) into the postseason. I never thought about the alternative. I just felt like I had no fear this year, because I had already been through everything.”

With the game knotted at 2-2 in the middle of the sixth inning on Monday as rain poured onto the field and showed no signs of letting up, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig decided to suspend the game until the weather cleared.

The conditions finally became playable on Wednesday, and the Phillies showed absolutely no rust.

“(Manager) Charlie (Manuel) does a great job in keeping us mentally prepared, he has all year long,” shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. “And even though we’ve had a day and a half off, we all went home, with the game still playing in our minds. We never sat down. We had that attitude.”

“I think that the layoff didn’t hurt either team,” Manuel said.

Much was made after Monday night about who Manuel would choose as his pinch hitter to lead off the bottom of the sixth, with the pitcher’s spot in the batting order due up. Geoff Jenkins, Greg Dobbs and Matt Stairs each bat lefthanded and could have been deployed in that situation against Grant Balfour.

“Actually, I wanted to keep Dobbs and Stairs both back if a righty was in the game,” Manuel said. “When I sent Jenkins up, if they brought in a lefthanded pitcher, I already made my mind up I was going to let him hit because he’s capable of hitting the ball out of the yard.”

Jenkins was the least likely of the bunch, having accumulated just three at-bats - no hits - so far in the postseason after appearing in only seven games in September. But Jenkins proved to be the perfect choice against Balfour, a noted fastball pitcher who reaches the high 90s and has thrown very few breaking balls in the playoffs.

The one thing Jenkins always has been able to do is turn around on a fastball, and after seeing five of them while working the count to 3-2, he took the sixth and planted it off the wall in right-center field for a leadoff double. He advanced to third on Jimmy Rollins’ sacrifice and scored when second baseman Akinori Iwamura could not make a play on Werth’s pop-up to shallow center.

“Before (Jenkins) got up and hit that big double I told him, ‘It’s not the bottom of the first, it’s the bottom of the sixth, so act like it,’” Rollins said. “I told him if he got that double, I’m bunting him over to third. So after he got the double I looked over at Charlie just in case, because sometimes he let’s you swing, but I wasn’t gonna swing either way.”

“That’s an awesome feeling,” Jenkins said. “I’ve had a lot big hits in my career. I’ll tell you right now, that’s the greatest feeling in my life right now to get that double right there.”

The excitement was short-lived, however, when Rocco Baldelli came up with one out in the seventh and deposited the first pitch from Ryan Madson over the left field wall to knot the game at 3-3.

Tampa Bay threatened to take the lead when Iwamura sent a grounder up the middle with two outs and Jason Bartlett on second. But second baseman Chase Utley, who was shading Iwamura to pull, raced up the middle, fielded the ball and, realizing he would not be able to get the runner at first, fired home to nail Bartlett for the final out of the frame.

“When I seen him throw the ball I was like, (darn), that’s a (heck) of a smart play,” Rollins said.

The Phillies carried the momentum from Utley’s play into the bottom half.

Pat Burrell led off with a double off J.P. Howell (0-2) before leaving for pinch runner Eric Bruntlett, who moved to third on Shane Victorino’s groundout. Feliz followed with a single off righthander Chad Bradford to push across what proved to be the winning run.

“Somebody’s got to do it,” Feliz said. “You’ve just got to be ready for your time. I came through and I did it at the right time. Bradford’s not an easy (pitcher) to face.”

“Actually, all the things that happened we had planned out before the game.” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “They just kept getting timely hits.”

Lidge allowed a broken-bat single to Dioner Navarro with one out in the ninth, and pinch runner Fernando Perez put the tying run on second with a stolen base before pinch hitter Ben Zobrist lined out to right for the second out.

“I knew when I hit it, I hit it pretty hard,” Zobrist said. “I was hoping for it to get knocked down, but it was right at (Werth).”

The Rays went to another pinch hitter, Eric Hinske, with their final chance, but Lidge struck him out on a nasty slider to set off a raucous celebration.

“I faced (Hinske) in the past,” Lidge said. “I knew that if we got ahead (in the count), we were gonna go with the slider. He’s got a lot of talent. Obviously, he hit a home run against us earlier in the series and I just wanted to make sure that I threw my best pitch.”

This is the first major sports championship for the city of Philadelphia since the NBA’s 76ers captured a title in 1983.

“(The drought’s) over, it’s over,” Rollins said.

“This is for Philadelphia,” Manuel said. “This is for our fans.”

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was gracious in defeat.

“I want to say congratulations to the Phillies,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “(I) look in the mirror and I see us a little bit. They’re a lot like us. We’re a lot like them. (The Phillies are) truly a wonderful team and deserving to win the World Series.”

Cole Hamels, who pitched the first six innings - allowing two runs and five hits while striking out three - on Monday and earned a win in Game One, was named the World Series MVP.

“To come away with a World Series ring is more important to me than an MVP, because truly I’m one of 25 guys on the team,” Hamels said. “So I think winning the World Series is a far more greater accomplishment than anything I can do. I feel like a winner now.”

It was Victorino’s two-run single in the first that put the Phillies on the board on Monday, with RBI hits by Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena accounting for the Rays’ runs.

“I don’t really feel, as a club, we have anything to be ashamed of,” Longoria said. “I think we went out there and represented the American League pretty good and played our best. They just beat us.”

“I always though we’d win the World Series,” Manuel said. “I knew we could beat anybody in our league, and when I look at my guys, I see our chemistry and our attitude, our makeup, how much we like to play and how much the Philadelphia fans back us. I knew we (could) win the World Series.”


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Updated Thursday, Oct 30, 2008