Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Phillies claim opener in World Series

IMPRESSIVE The Phillies are now 80-0 when leading after eight innings this season, thanks in large part to closer Brad Lidge who is a perfect 47-for-47 in saves

AFP, ST PETERSBURG , FLORIDA

Shane Victorino, right, of the Philadelphia Phillies is tagged out at home by catch Dioner Navarro of the Tampa Bay Rays during game one of the 2008 MLB World Series on Wednesday at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, Florida.

PHOTO: AFP

Chase Utley started it off with a two-run homer and Cole Hamels pitched seven innings as Philadelphia held on for a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay in game one of the 104th World Series.

Hamels struck out five and walked two as the Phillies pitchers showed no signs of rust after having a week off between the semi-finals and the World Series.

“Cole did a wonderful job,” Utley said. “Our goal was to try and score some runs early.

“Try to take the crowd out of it. We did a lot of things right. We had good at-bats and a lot of good baserunners,” he said.

Phillies closer Brad Lidge came on in the ninth inning and posted a three-out save in front of a sold-out crowd of 40,783 at Tropicana Field. Lidge kept his perfect save record intact this year with Wednesday’s performance.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said the players are doing a good job of remaining composed.

“We won tonight, we have the same mindset,” Manuel said. “We come back tomorrow and work on winning tomorrow’s game. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

This is the first time in World Series since 1993 for the Phillies who won it in 1980.

Phillies have now won 21 of their past 26 games and Utley’s blast boosted their home run total to a staggering 215 this season. It is the most by any National League team entering a World Series.

The Rays are trying to continue one of the most impressive turnarounds in sports history as they reached their first World Series in franchise history after finishing in last place last year.

Tampa lost just their third game in the past 24 contests.

“They beat us with the first home run in the first inning,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “They got us early and held up.”

The Phillies are now 80-0 when leading after eight innings this season. A big reason for that is Lidge who is a perfect 47-for-47 in saves.

While the pitching looked sharp throughout the game the same could not be said for the Phillies’ batters as they failed to score a run after the fourth inning and stranded 13 runners.

“We scored three runs and that was enough tonight,” Manuel said. “[Hamels] was able to hold the lead and our bullpen did a good job.”

“I thought we should have scored five or six runs. At the same time when Cole pitches, I feel like we are going to win,” he said.

Infielder Utley hammered his shot to the right field bleachers off Tampa starting pitcher Scott Kazmir. Utley became the 34th player in World Series history to hit a home run in his first Fall Classic at-bat.

Manuel said Utley’s homer helped silence the raucous Rays’ crowd.

“I can’t think of any other way to quiet them down,” he said. “If you want to take the wind out of the sails and shut the cow bells up then get some home runs early.”

Philadelphia had a chance to pad their lead in the second but Rays outfielder BJ Upton threw out Shane Victorino at home plate to get the third out and end the inning with the bases loaded.

The Phillies also left a runner stranded on third at the end of the third inning.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz made it 3-0 for Philadelphia in the top of the fourth with an RBI sacrifice that scored Victorino.

Tampa’s Carl Crawford cut the lead to two runs with his first career playoff home run. His solo shot sailed 382 feet to right field in the fourth.

Japan’s Akinori Iwamura hit a double to center field that scored Rays’ teammate Jason Bartlett to make it 3-2 for the Phillies.

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