PHILADELPHIA — Charlie Manuel seemed fresh and spry despite what must have been a short night's rest. A World Series victory secured in the bottom of the ninth inning apparently puts him down like a baby.
"I kind of liked the ending, really," the manager said, laughing.
There is ultimate value in any World Series win. But there would have been tremendous loss in dropping Game 3 for the Phillies, considering they took a 4-1 lead into the seventh, got a standout six-plus inning effort from 45-year-old Jamie Moyer and won what appeared to be an unfavorable pitching matchup with Matt Garza. The fact that umpire Tom Hallion admitted that he missed a call at first that facilitated a Rays run could have made it even tougher to forget. Didn't matter by 1:47 a.m. as the Phillies had a 5-4 win.
"When you walk them and when you put their speed on base, you've got to really concentrate on trying to stop them, because they're hard to stop," Manuel said, referring to four Rays steals, three by B.J. Upton. "And any time that they get guys in scoring position, it seems like they can hit a ground ball. And things have kind of been going their way. But we overcame that, and they made mistakes at the end and we capitalized on it, and it was a victory for us."
The Phillies used home runs by Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to take a 4-1 lead and lost it when they were again helpless against the Rays' speed. The Rays scored two in the seventh and tied it in the eighth when Upton singled with a bunt, stole second and scored on a Ruiz throwing error as he swiped third.
But the Rays made the last big mistake(s). J.P. Howell led off the ninth by hitting Eric Bruntlett, and after reliever Grant Balfour chucked a ball to the backstop that Dioner Navarro grabbed and threw into center, Bruntlett stood on third as the potential winner. Manager Joe Maddon opted to walk the next two batters intentionally and utilize five infielders trying to set up a force at home. Howard said it looked like the Rays were getting ready to blitz.
"Things started lining up and you think, 'Wow, things might go our way,' " shortstop Jimmy Rollins said.
Third baseman Evan Longoria could not make a clean flip home on Ruiz's roller, and the Phillies had a 2-1 lead in the Series.
"It's huge," Bruntlett said. "Our season wouldn't be over, which is what they're thinking right now, but it was a good win."