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Philadelphia Phillies pick Joe Blanton over Cliff Lee to start Game 4 of World Series

PHILADELPHIA — Phillies manager Charlie Manuel blinked first in the staring contest over naming a Game 4 starter, going with RHP Joe Blanton rather than using ace LHP Cliff Lee on short rest.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, meanwhile, will continue his deliberations, potentially until after tonight's Game 3, before officially deciding between bringing back lefty ace CC Sabathia on short rest or turning to ex-Rays RHP Chad Gaudin.

Manuel's decision wasn't based as much on what Blanton has done — the experience of a Game 4 start vs. the Rays last year but a concerning 0-3, 8.18 mark against the Yankees — as what Lee hasn't done, which is start on three days' rest.

"That's really pushing him because he's never did it before," Manuel said.

Sunday's option was rookie LHP J.A. Happ, but Manuel wanted to keep him in the bullpen.

Lee will pitch Game 5 on Monday and, because Tuesday is an off day, could be available for limited action in a potential Game 7 on Thursday. Most likely, the Phillies would start RHP Pedro Martinez in Game 6 and LHP Cole Hamels in Game 7.

Girardi said he wanted to see how Sabathia felt before making a decision, but there's no doubt he will say he's ready. He skipped his normal bullpen session Friday and said: "I'm good either way."

It may come down more to how the Yankees feel about their chances after tonight, feeling more of a need to turn to Sabathia if down 2-1 and more comfortable with Gaudin if up 2-1.

"That does have a little something to do with it, but it's just something we want to discuss," Girardi said.

Gaudin, who came up with the Rays and pitched for them in 2003-04, said, "I just have to prepare as if I were (starting) and take it day by day."

Out and about: The Yankees are at a disadvantage with no DH for three games, but there isn't much they can do about it. There is some talk of using usual DH Hideki Matsui in rightfield, but he hasn't been in the field all season because of a sore knee.

Matsui said he felt he could handle it, and Girardi said they'd also talk about that. More likely, Matsui will be used as a pinch-hitter, with a chance he could stay in with a double switch.

Boo-hoo: The only previous World Series game played on Oct. 31 lasted until November. It was Game 4 of the 2001 D'backs-Yankees series, and it was after midnight when Derek Jeter ended it with a two-out homer in the 10th. "If you ever dreamed of being a baseball player, you're always in the back yard thinking about hitting a home run to win a World Series game," he said. "And that's what it feels like when you do it."

Miscellany: Assuming no postponements, Games 3-4-5 will mark the first time either team has played three consecutive days in the postseason. … Of the previous 53 Series tied 1-1, the Game 3 winner won it all 35 times. … The Phillies are 11-1 at home in the 2008-09 postseasons. … Girardi said he won't know until today whether he can use Mariano Rivera, who threw 39 pitches Thursday, for two innings. … 2B Chase Utley said there's a chance former Phillie/current Ray Pat Burrell will be in town for the games.

Times staff writer John Romano contributed to this report.

Philadelphia Phillies pick Joe Blanton over Cliff Lee to start Game 4 of World Series 10/30/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2009 10:15pm]
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