Phillies outlast Rays 5-4 in thrilling ninth inning finish
PHILADELPHIA (AP) ó First it was wet, then it got wild for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Carlos Ruiz finished off a madcap ninth inning with an infield single with the bases loaded, and the Phillies outlasted the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 early today in Game 3 of the World Series for a 2-1 lead.
This was midnight madness and then some on a rainy night that pushed the start to 10:06 p.m. and it wrapped up at 1:47 a.m. Ruiz, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard homered for the Phils, but it took three kooky plays to win it on a bases-loaded trickler with no outs.
It all came down to this: Rays reliever J.P. Howell hit Eric Bruntlett with a pitch to start the ninth. Enter Grant Balfour, who threw a wild pitch that caromed off the backstop to catcher Dioner Navarro, whose throw trying to get Bruntlett skipped into center field.
With Bruntlett on third, the Rays issued two intentional walks and brought in right fielder Ben Zobrist for a five-man infield. Ruiz followed with a nubber down the line and third baseman Evan Longoria charged. He dived for the ball, and rushed an underhanded flip home that sailed over Navarroís head.
The single was just the Philsí second hit in 33 chances with runners in scoring position this Series.
The Phillies rushed from the dugout to congratulate Bruntlett at the plate and Ruiz at first base. The giant Liberty Bell in center field clanged in celebration ó no cowbells here at Citizens Bank Park.
Game 4 is Sunday night and the weather forecast is fine for the matchup between the Philsí Joe Blanton and Andy Sonnanstine.
A 91-minute rain delay resulted in the latest start time in Series history, and most everyone in the sellout crowd was still at the park and standing when Philadelphia won.
The Phillies built a 4-1 lead for Jamie Moyer on an early home run by Ruiz and consecutive shots by Utley and Howard in the sixth. But it was the little hit that was the biggest of all.
J.C. Romero wound up with the win.
Minus Moyer, the Rays sped back to tie as B.J. Upton became the first AL player to steal three bases in a Series game.
Upton beat out an infield single to open the eighth, swiped second and third on consecutive pitches, and dashed home on a wild throw by Ruiz to make it 4-all.
Tampa Bayís rally dampened the moment Moyer waited for his whole life. The 45-year-old lefty finally got to pitch in the World Series and threw a game that defines his career, bedeviling the Rays with his slo-mo repertoire.
Moyer, already a pro before Rays stars Evan Longoria and Upton were born, demonstrated exactly how heís earned 246 major league victories. He struck out both All-Stars with 74 mph changeups, and made the entire lineup look foolish with tentative swings.
Moyer became the second-oldest player in Series history ó Jack Quinn was 47 when he pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1930 ó yet showed he was still spry. He belly-flopped along the first-base line to field Carl Crawfordís bunt, and flipped the ball with his glove.
And while millions of people may have switched the TV channel to watch iSaturday Night Liveî open with one of their popular political skits, surely baseball fans all over were laughing at watching Moyer pitch a game for the aged.
Hit hard in two losses in the NL playoffs, Moyer left in the seventh with a 4-2 lead after an RBI grounder by Gabe Gross. He tipped his cap toward plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth and then to the crowd that gave him a rousing standing ovation.
Chad Durbin relieved and gave up Jason Bartlettís RBI grounder that pulled the Rays within a run.
Steady rain and gusty wind threatened to postpone the first Series game at Citizens Bank Park. Fans huddled underneath the overhangs and crowded the concourses to watch No. 3 Penn State play No. 10 Ohio State.
Ruiz hit a solo home run in the second off Matt Garza that put the Phillies ahead 2-1.
Utley led off the sixth with his second home run of the Series and the slumping Howard followed with a drive into the right-field seats.
Garza, who beat Boston in Game 7 to win the MVP award of the ALCS, never seemed comfortable and kept fidgeting with the rubber.
Jimmy Rollins got his first hit of the Series, leading off the first with a single. He later scored on Utleyís groundout.
Crawford doubled off the sliding Pat Burrellís glove in left field in the second and scored on Grossí sacrifice fly.
Notes: The previous latest starting time in the Series was 9:24 p.m. in 1993, also at Philadelphia, after a 72-minute rain delay. … Phillies Hall of Famer Steve Carlton threw out the ceremonial first ball. In Moyerís major league debut with the Chicago Cubs in 1986, he beat Carlton.