World Series: Phillies 3, Rays 2
By Ronald Blum
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. ó Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and the rest of the Philadelphia Phillies shook off a week’s worth of waiting and turned it into a World Series win.
Hamels escaped trouble to win his fourth postseason start, Utley hit a two-run homer in the first inning and the Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 in the opener Wednesday night.
The worst-to-first Rays flopped in their first game in baseball’s ultimate event, managing just five hits.
The Phillies showed little evidence of rust. They’ll try to make it two in a row at Tropicana Field when Brett Myers pitches against James Shields in Game 2 Thursday night.
The team that won the opener has captured the Series 63 of 103 times, including 10 of the last 11. But the team with home-field advantage has taken 18 of the last 22 titles.
“It’s huge,” Phillies closer Brad Lidge said. “You try and downplay it, but obviously you’re coming into a place like this, you want to make sure you get the first game, especially because you got your ace on the mound. It’s really important to do that.”
Hamels, MVP of the NL championship series, improved to 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA this postseason. He had only a pair of 1-2-3 innings, but the composed 24-year-old left-hander allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings.
Ryan Madson pitched a perfect eighth. Lidge worked the ninth for his 47th save in 47 chances this year, silencing the Rays and their cowbell-clanging fans.
Carl Crawford homered for Tampa Bay, but playoff stars B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria went a combined 0-for-8. The Rays didn’t get a hit over the final four innings.
Scott Kazmir, selected two picks ahead of Hamels in the first round of the 2002 amateur draft, struggled with his control and gave up three runs, six hits and four walks in six innings.
The Phillies could have romped but went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Their other run even scored on an out, an RBI grounder by Carlos Ruiz.
Philadelphia, seeking the city’s first major title since the NBA’s 76ers in 1983, had six days off after beating the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL pennant, while the Rays didn’t finish off the Boston Red Sox until Game 7 on Sunday night.
The Phillies also won the opener in 1980 against Kansas City, starting them to their only title since starting play in 1883.