PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies hit Alex Rodriguez with pitches three times during the past two games. In the ninth inning Sunday, he hit back.
And it hurt the Phillies a lot more.
Rodriguez's two-out double scored the go-ahead run as the Yankees rallied for a 7-4 victory — moments after the Phillies had tied it dramatically — and moved to the verge of their first World Series championship since 2000 and 27th overall, with three chances to wrap it up, starting tonight.
"The one time I got hit in (Saturday's) game, my first at-bat, kind of woke me up a little bit and just reminded me, 'Hey, this is the World Series, let's get it going a little bit.' So it worked out," Rodriguez said. "There's no question I have never had a bigger hit.''
Rodriguez's dramatic hit was set up by some daring baserunning by Johnny Damon, who singled with two outs off Brad Lidge, then stole second and third on the same play, taking advantage of a poor throw by catcher Carlos Ruiz and a defensive shift that left third uncovered.
"That's instinct," manager Joe Girardi said. "(But) you'd better be sure."
After Mark Teixeira was hit by a pitch, Rodriguez — who began the Series 0-for-8 with six strikeouts — doubled to left off Brad Lidge, and Jorge Posada followed with a two-run single.
The loss left the defending champion Phillies on the brink of elimination.
"I think we take a lot of pride in being resilient and the way we bounce back," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We're down, but you know what, we're still breathing."
The Phillies came back twice from two-run deficits, tying it 4-4 when Pedro Feliz homered off Joba Chamberlain with a full count and two outs in the eighth.
It was an exciting ending to the first scheduled November World Series game (and fourth overall after Games 5-6-7 were delayed in 2001 due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks).
Damon started the winning rally, battling back from a 1-and-2 count against Lidge, who hadn't pitched in 10 days, fouling off three pitches and singling to left.
"An unbelievable, tenacious at-bat," Rodriguez said.
With lefty-swinging Teixeira up, the Phillies put on a shift — similar to what the Rays and other teams do — with shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the first-base side of second and third baseman Feliz up the middle. Damon swiped second, and when he realized Feliz had to reach for the throw and third was uncovered, he broke for the bag knowing he had only to beat Feliz.
"I was glad when I started running I still had some of my young legs behind me," Damon said. "I knew Pedro's speed also. I mean, if it was (the Angels') Chone Figgins, that might have been tough. I just went off instinct, and fortunately it worked out."
The Phillies helped, messing up a play they had done right all year as Manuel said either Ruiz or Lidge should have covered the base. "Got to be heads-up,'' Manuel said. "Evidently there was some miscommunication there.''
The Yankees got a pair of runs after starting the first with a single and a double, but the more interesting hit was the Joe Blanton fastball that plunked Rodriguez in the ribs. It was the third time in six plate appearances that the Phillies hit A-Rod, and he clearly wasn't happy about it. The umpires denied the Yankees a chance to retaliate by issuing a warning to both dugouts.
The Phillies got a run right back when Shane Victorino and Chase Utley hit back-to-back doubles, then tied it in the fourth when slumping Ryan Howard singled and scored on Feliz's single, crashing into Posada and, based on replays, never touching the plate.
The Yankees went back ahead with two in the fifth, as Derek Jeter and Damon singled in runs off Blanton. The Phillies closed to 4-3 in the seventh when Utley — who homered twice off CC Sabathia in the opener — took him deep on his 107th and final pitch. They tied it when Feliz homered in the eighth, but the Yankees answered.
"This club has been extremely resilient all year.,'' Girardi said.Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com.