NEW YORK — The alternative was obvious, so the Yankees knew what they had to do. It didn't matter that old nemesis Pedro Martinez was on the mound in a show of grand theater. Didn't matter that the reliability of their starter, A.J. Burnett, was in doubt. Didn't matter that manager Joe Girardi's lineup changes were being questioned.
"We feel," leftfielder Johnny Damon said pregame, "like we must win this one."
And they did, 3-1 Thursday over the Phillies and Martinez.
The Yankees got home runs from Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui and a pinch-hit RBI single from catcher Jorge Posada to ruin Martinez's dramatic diva-esque return. And they got seven strong innings from Burnett, who looked headed for a short night after needing 61 pitches to get through the first three innings.
Most important, they got even, squaring the World Series at one game with play resuming Saturday in Philadelphia.
Having lost Wednesday's opener and homefield advantage, the Yankees faced a daunting deficit — 40 of the 51 teams that held 2-0 leads went on to win the Series.
The pace was slow early as Martinez and Burnett combined for 120 pitches through three innings. The Phillies scored first, but the Yankees pulled even and went ahead and — as they did in the pennant-clincher against the Angels — avoided the rest of their shaky bullpen by calling on Mariano Rivera to get six outs.
The Phillies scored first when Raul Ibanez doubled with two outs in the second and Matt Stairs slapped a ball past third baseman Alex Rodriguez that a) should have been caught or b) scored an error. Instead, it was Stairs' first single since June 28 and his first RBI on something besides a homer since June 25, when he doubled in a run against the Rays.
Teixeira, hitting .181 for the postseason to that point with two extra-base hits, led off the fourth by driving a 1-and-0 pitch over the right-centerfield fence. Matsui put the Yankees ahead with two outs in the sixth, knocking a 1-and-2 pitch over the rightfield fence.
The Yankees added to their lead with a seventh-inning rally that chased Martinez. Jerry Hairston singled to right, and Melky Cabrera did the same, ending Martinez's night at 107 pitches. Posada, who began the night on the bench, greeted Chan Ho Park with a pinch-hit single to center to make it 3-1.
The Phillies battled, getting two on with one out in the eighth before Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter turned an inning-ending double play, then getting the tying run to the plate in the ninth after Ibanez doubled. But Rivera struck out Stairs.
Both teams made lineup changes.
Girardi already had planned to make one. But by the time he filled out his card, he had decided on another to try to shake up his offense. The result was a lineup that included Molina behind the plate and Hairston in rightfield with Posada and Nick Swisher on the bench.
Molina has been the personal catcher for Burnett over the final month of the season and in the playoffs, and Girardi wanted to stick with what worked. Swisher had been struggling throughout the postseason, hitting .114 (4-for-35) with one RBI and 12 strikeouts. And Girardi clearly wanted to try something else, so he turned to Hairston, who had a .370 average (10-for-27) against Martinez. Hairston went 1-for-3 and started the rally that led to the insurance run.
The Phillies made only one change, starting Stairs at DH with Ibanez going back to his usual leftfield spot.
Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com.