ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays showed a lot Thursday night.
B.J. Upton rebounded from his poor opener to have a hand in their first three runs. James Shields proved worthy of his nickname of "Big Game" with a stellar start when they needed it most. David Price displayed that well-beyond-his-years ability to get the biggest outs at the end of the game.
And the Rays showed again they could come back from a big loss with a bigger win, beating the Phillies 4-2 in Game 2 to even the best-of-seven World Series at a game apiece.
"I think we showed what we showed the whole season," Cliff Floyd said. "This is how we play. I'm hoping at the end of the season nobody has a heart attack around here because it's just so intense, so tight. Every situation comes up — eighth inning, ninth inning, there's always something going on with us."
Thursday that meant taking a 4-0 lead without really hitting the ball hard (seven hits, all singles), scoring on two groundouts; a single on which the trail runner was thrown out at the plate, and a safety squeeze to score Floyd, 35.
Shields did what he almost always does, which was keep the Rays close and work as deep as he could, this time into the sixth.
And the bullpen took it from there. Dan Wheeler got three outs and Price, the dazzling rookie, the final seven, working around a solo homer in the eighth and a run-scoring error by Evan Longoria in the ninth that brought dangerous Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to the plate as the tying run, and Price got them both out.
"He's been unbelievable,'' catcher Dioner Navarro said. "The guy is amazing.''
Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday in Philadelphia, though rain is forecast. Either way, the Rays are feeling very good again.
"We answered these same questions going to Boston (in the ALCS)," Longoria said. "It's big. I said (Wednesday) that today was a must win for us. We came out and did the job, and I really like our matchups the next couple of days. But like always, it's tough playing on the road."
The lingering question that wasn't answered was whether the Phillies would get a big hit with a runner in scoring position. They went 1-for-15 on Thursday, following a record 0-for-13 in the opener. Their 0-for-19 start was the second-longest such stretch at any point in a Series. Through two games they are 1-for-28.
"That's pretty significant,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But we're capable of doing that.''
The Rays went into Thursday's game with quiet but strong confidence they would bounce back.
"There's going to be tough situations that you have to go through, and we've been in that position before," Floyd said. "It wasn't something that wasn't the norm. We lost the first game of the ALCS, so guys knew how to handle this. They didn't come in tonight all tight, all tense.
"I don't think you saw any panic. The music was blaring as usual, guys were getting ready for the game as usual."
Shields got them off to a good start and worked into the sixth, scattering seven hits and walking two but getting out of jams, much to the delight of the sellout crowd of 40,843.
"The team did a great job getting the early lead giving me some confidence,'' Shields said. "And I made some key pitches in key situations.''
What Shields didn't finish, the bullpen did.
The Rays didn't overpower the Phillies, but it was important they took the early lead against Brett Myers. After Akinori Iwamura's leadoff walk, Upton, maligned for a 0-for-4 opener, singled hard to right. Jayson Werth fumbled with the ball, and the runners moved up, then scored on infield outs. The Rays made it 3-0 in the third when Upton singled to score Navarro, though Rocco Baldelli was thrown out as he crashed into catcher Carlos Ruiz.
And they made it 4-0 in the fourth when Floyd reached on a broken bat single, came around on a single and a groundout and scored on the squeeze.
"Speed kills, baby," Floyd said. "That's all Joe (Maddon). I got the sign, and I was actually looking into the dugout, and I was looking at (third base coach Tom) Foley like, "Are you serious?" These legs can still move a little bit. And in this situation I was going to make myself move. And it was a good placed bunt by (Jason) Bartlett, thank God."
It was, again, that kind of night.