PHILADELPHIA — For the Phillies, this World Series looked eerily similar to last year. Split the first two on the road, come home for a rain-delayed Game 3 that lasted into Sunday morning.
But they're playing the Yankees this year instead of the Rays. And that's turning out to be a huge difference.
The long night ended with an 8-5 victory for the Yankees, giving them a 2-1 Series lead and the added advantage of having ace CC Sabathia on the mound tonight in Game 4.
They won the second Series game ever played on Halloween because they came dressed — and played — like the Yankees.
They got a good-enough start (and an RBI single!) from postseason maestro Andy Pettitte, homers from previously slumping Alex Rodriguez (via instant replay) and Nick Swisher (along with a pinch-hit shot by Hideki Matsui). They got six outs of perfect relief from Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte, though after struggling Phil Hughes allowed a run in the ninth they had to summon Mariano Rivera to finish.
"We feel real good about what we're doing,'' Pettitte said. "We felt good about coming in here. We feel good about being up 2-1. … This was a big win for us.''
The night started similar to last year's Game 3, when the Rays and Phillies had to wait out a lengthy rain delay and began play at 10:06 p.m., the latest first pitch in Series history. The Yankees and Phillies only had to sit through a 1:20 delay Saturday, as MLB officials clearly wanted to make sure once the game started, at 9:17, it didn't have to be stopped.
It ended with the Phillies in an unusual position: trailing in a postseason series for the first time since 2007. "We'll come out (tonight) and we'll try to even play better and harder,'' manager Charlie Manuel said. "We're that kind of team.''
They'll need more offense to do so, especially from cleanup man Ryan Howard, who is hitting .154 (2-for-13) with nine strikeouts (three shy of the overall Series record), along with Shane Victorino (.182), Chase Utley (.182) and Jimmy Rollins (.200). "We're definitely capable of putting runs on the board,'' Manuel said. "It's just a matter of time until we do.''
The Phillies took a 3-0 lead in the second as Pettitte was a bit shaky early. "I can't remember winning a game where I've struggled like I did (Saturday),'' Pettitte said. "It was tough. I'm not going to lie to you, I couldn't put the ball where I wanted to, I wasn't getting it down and away consistently like I wanted to, and like I said, I wasn't able to throw my curveball for strikes. It was an absolute grind tonight, that's for sure.''
The first of two homers by Jayson Werth — just the third Pettitte had allowed in 12 starts over eight Series — started it, and the Phillies got two more on a bases-loaded walk by Rollins and a sac fly by Victorino.
But the Yankees answered, taking a 5-3 lead and chasing consistently inconsistent Phillies starter Cole Hamels in the fifth.
They got two in the fourth when Rodriguez — who had been 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in Games 1-2 — hit what eventually was a two-run homer, in the first use of replay in a postseason game. "That really shocked them, and put us back in the game,'' catcher Jorge Posada said.
Rodriguez initially stopped at second as the ball was ruled to be in play, but the umpires — criticized heavily for a series of blown calls throughout the postseason — conferred, then made use of the replay (since it was a home run-boundary call) and saw what everyone else watching on TV had seen, that the ball struck a camera just inside the rightfield foul pole and above the fence — and protruding slightly over the field.
The Yankees got a different kind of help scoring three more in the fifth as Hamels folded quickly. "For three innings there he was real good, and that's kind of been the pattern he's pitched this year,'' Manuel said.
Swisher started it with a leadoff double, but the RBI bloop single by Pettitte — a career .137 hitter — may have been the biggest hit, and certainly what he was more excited about afterward.
Derek Jeter followed with a soft single that Victorino foolishly slid for in centerfield, and Johnny Damon laced a double that scored both, Jeter nearly catching Pettitte at the plate. "First of all, I have no wheels at all,'' Pettitte said. "I know that. I am very slow. I mean, very slow.''
Swisher — benched in Game 2 against Pedro Martinez with a .114 postseason average — delivered again with a solo homer in the sixth. And after Werth's second homer closed the gap to 6-4, the Yankees answered again as Posada singled in Damon to make it 7-4, and Matsui added a pinch-hit homer.
"It was just a great day,'' Swisher said.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]s.com.