Phillies win wild one to take 2-1 lead in Series

Sunday, October 26, 2008

PHILADELPHIA -- This was midnight madness, and then some, at the World Series.

"Freak things kind of happened there," Eric Bruntlett said after scoring the winning run for the Philadelphia Phillies at 12:47 a.m.

Carlos Ruiz finished off a wacky ninth inning with an infield single with the bases loaded, and the Phillies outlasted the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 early Sunday in Game 3 for a 2-1 lead.

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 might have took a little squib roller down the third-base line, but at the same time it's better to be lucky sometimes than to be good," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

The end was almost as bizarre as the 9:06 p.m. start, the latest in Series history. Baseball waited out a rainstorm that chased most fans out of their seats and delayed Jamie Moyer's first pitch for 91 minutes.

The matchup of Philadelphia's power vs. Tampa Bay's speed left it at 4-4 going to the bottom of the ninth.

Then it all came down to this: Rays reliever J.P. Howell hit Bruntlett with a pitch to start the inning. 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.

"It looked like they were about to blitz," Howard said.

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 Navarro's head.

"You couldn't place a ball better than that. Lucky swing, perfect bounce," Zobrist said.

The single was just the Phils' 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 -- no cowbells here at Citizens Bank Park.

"You know what, it's crazy," Howard said. "It's a little nerve-racking, but to come out with a victory like that, it's great."

Game 4 is tonight and the weather forecast is fine for the matchup between the Phils' Joe Blanton and Andy Sonnanstine.

The Phillies built a 4-1 lead for 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 4-4.

Tampa Bay's 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.

"I think it exceeded every expectation or thought or dream," Moyer said.

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