PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies still have a long way to go to repeat as world champions. But just getting the World Series 108 miles back up the turnpike to New York with an 8-6 win Monday was a significant accomplishment.
The Phillies won because fully-rested Cliff Lee provided another stellar start. They won because Chase Utley hit two more home runs, matching Reggie Jackson's 32-year-old Series record of five. And they won because the Yankees' decision to start A.J. Burnett on short rest backfired horribly, with the potential of ongoing ramifications.
"We're still fighting," Lee said.
Game 6 will be Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, with the potential for tremendous theater given the expected pitching matchup of big-game veterans Pedro Martinez (who is confirmed) and Andy Pettitte (who seems likely).
The Yankees still lead the Series 3-2 and have the homefield advantage, courtesy of the Joe Maddon-managed and Carl Crawford-preserved American League All-Star victory, as well as history on their side, as only three teams of the 23 teams who had 3-1 Series leads with the final two games at home have not prevailed (the 1958 Braves, '68 Cardinals and '79 Orioles).
"We're going home with an opportunity to win," captain Derek Jeter said. "I like where we're at."
But the Phillies could have something of an edge, with the momentum, the pressure that will be on the Yankees to not blow it and the benefit of having Martinez on five days' rest in contrast to the 37-year-old Pettitte on three.
That was how they played Monday despite facing elimination, taking a 3-1 lead on Utley's first-inning homer, expanding it to 6-1 and 8-2, then hanging on.
"You'd have never known we were down 3-1," said Ryan Howard, who tied the Series record with 12 strikeouts. "Same mind-set, same attitude, calm as usual. That's just the demeanor of this team. That's just how we've been all year. There's no need to change. That's just our makeup."
"We went out there like we were up 3-1," said reliever Ryan Madson, who navigated a perilous ninth in lieu of closer Brad Lidge for the save.
Utley's first-inning homer off Burnett and a leadoff shot in the seventh against Phil Coke matched Jackson's record from the 1977 Series. "Obviously," Utley said, "it's great company."
He also joined Kansas City's Willie Aikens (1980) as the only players to have two multi-homer Series games.
"That's pretty impressive what he's doing," Yankees leftfielder Johnny Damon said. "That's hard to do sometimes in batting practice, and he's doing it in World Series games."
The Phillies showed the resilience they talked so much about, charged up by the Citizens Bank Park crowd of 46,178 and charging to the early lead. Lee, the remarkable trade deadline acquisition from Cleveland, kept them comfortably ahead into the eighth and improved to 4-0, 1.56 for the postseason, though he had the benefit of facing a less-imposing version of the Yankees who were without Melky Cabrera (injured), Jorge Posada (benched in favor of Jose Molina, Burnett's personal catcher) and Hideki Matsui (a reserve with no DH in the NL park).
"I had to battle a little more than I've had to the past few games," Lee said. "But thankfully we scored a lot of runs. … I really couldn't care less how we got it done, just as long as we win."
Despite throwing 112 pitches, Lee said he would be available to pitch in a potential Game 7 on Thursday, and manager Charlie Manuel seconded the notion.
The Phillies suffered one setback when centerfielder Shane Victorino left during the game due to swelling and soreness on his right index finger after being hit by a pitch in the first. X-rays showed no break, but his status for Game 6 could be in question. "A couple days, it probably is going to be okay,'' Manuel said.
The experiment of using Burnett on three days' rest failed miserably for the Yankees as he couldn't even get out of the third inning, allowing six runs on four hits and four walks, and threw nearly as many balls (25) as strikes (28).
"I just couldn't get it to go where I wanted it to go," Burnett said. "I had a chance to do something special in here tonight and I let all the guys down. I let the city down."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]