If any game was worth sitting through a three hour rain delay, this may have been the one as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the bottom of the ninth by the score of 5-4 early Sunday morning. (I have sat through countless rain delays in the comfort of the Press Box in then Jacobs Field in Cleveland. It is not fun, but it must be ten times worse for the hardy fans that sit out the delay in the rain!) Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz drove in the winning run in the ninth with an infield single. The victory gives Philadelphia a 2-1 edge in the 2008 World Series.
Rays starter Matt Garza got into early trouble in the bottom of the first. He gave up a leadoff single to Jimmy Rollins and walked the next batter right fielder Jayson Werth. Garza appeared unnerved as he served up a wild pitch advancing the runners to second and third with nobody out. Chase Utley grounded out to third but Rollins scored on the play. The Tampa Bay starter was able to get out of the frame without further damage as the Phillies led 1-0.
Philadelphia starter veteran Jamie Moyer did not enjoy his prosperity for long as Carl Crawford led off the top of the second with a double. After Dioner Navarro lined out to second, Crawford stole third. Rays right fielder Gabe Gross drove in Crawford with a sacrifice fly to center tying the game at 1-1. Carlos Ruiz hit a solo homer in the bottom of the frame off Garza to put the Phillies back on top 2-1.
Things stayed quiet until the bottom of the sixth, when Utley and Ryan Howard hit back to back homers to lead off the frame. Garza got the next three hitters out in order, but the damage was done as his team now trailed 4-1. Moyer ran into problems in the top of the seventh as Crawford beat out a bunt for a single. Navarro came up next hitting a double to left, Crawford going to third on the play. Gross grounded out to first but Crawford scored on the play, making it a 4-2 game. Philadelphia brought in reliever Chad Durbin, who got Jason Bartlett to ground out to short but Navarro scored, and the lead was down to a single run as the score was 4-3.
Tampa Bay played "small ball" perfectly in the top of the eighth. B.J. Upton greeted new Phillies reliever with an infield single to open the inning. He then stole second, then stole third, and scored as Ruiz threw the ball away. Madson had blown the save, and the game was tied 4-4.
The last thing anybody wanted in this game after the initial three hour delay was extra innings, but that looked like a strong possibility as Philadelphia came to bat in the bottom of the ninth. However this time it was the Phillies turn to play "small ball" as pinch hitter Eric Bruntlett got on base when he was hit by a pitch. Bruntlett got to second on a wild pitch, and went to third on a throwing error by Rays catcher Navarro. Reliever Grant Balfour intentionally walked the next two batters trying to set up the force at the plate. But the plan backfired as Ruiz drove home the winning run with an infield single.
Phillies reliever J.C. Romero got the win, Rays reliever J.P. Howell took the loss. The Series resumes Sunday night with Joe Blanton on the bump for Philadelphia. Andy Sonnanstine will get the start for Tampa Bay.
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