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Tampa Bay Rays World Series: Win is relief as much as joy for Phillies

PHILADELPHIA — It had been so long since they had celebrated a championship that the best they could do was Kool & the Gang's Celebration as the Phillies flooded the fielded and prepared to lift their World Series trophy.

The completion of a four games to one defeat of the Rays at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday seemed to be greeted as much with relief as jubilation as the Phillies ended a 28-year World Series drought.

Such was the case with Pat Burrell. Long vilified in Philadelphia for daring to never fulfill the promise of his media clippings as a first-round draft pick, he led off the bottom of the seventh with a double to end an 0-for-13 World Series slide, and the pinch-runner that replaced him scored for a 4-3 lead that held up.

"I kept thinking, 'Man if you stay with it, something is going to happen, you're going to have an impact,' " Burrell said in the clubhouse as Chase Utley directed champagne up into his nostrils from a low vantage point. "Being here as long as I have and going through the good and the bad and be rewarded in this way, it's too good to be true. I have gutted it out in this place."

Reliever Brad Lidge, whose postseason failings marred his career at Houston, fell to his knees screaming "Oh my God" after striking out Eric Hinske to end the game.

The World Series title was the Phillies' second in six tries and first since 1980. The city had gone 25 years without a major pro sports title, dating to the 76ers' NBA title in 1983.

Manager Charlie Manuel had spoken before Game 1 about how reaching the Series can remove pressure from players who enjoy the game and know how to channel away distractions. That's why odd Series heroes often present themselves, he said.

Enter Geoff Jenkins. He'd hit .246 in the regular season and was 0-for-3 in the playoffs, but he made Manuel's first move pay off at the resumption of the game when Rays manager Joe Maddon opted to allow Grant Balfour to face the left-handed pinch-hitter for starting pitcher Cole Hamels. Jenkins mashed a 95-plus-mph pitch into right-center for a double and scored for a 3-2 Phillies lead. Jenkins had found out until 10 minutes before the game that Manuel had chosen him over two other left-handed options.

"It's just one of those moments when you try to slow everything down. I didn't have a postseason hit yet," Jenkins said, wrench on the wire on a champagne cork. "I just wanted to do something to help this team."

Tampa Bay Rays World Series: Win is relief as much as joy for Phillies 10/29/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 30, 2008 3:45pm]
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