Phillies Gain Edge With Game 3 Victory
Phillies 5, Rays 4
Sunday, October 26, 2008; Page D01
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 25 -- They couldn't buy a hit with runners in scoring position all night -- all series, for that matter -- but they didn't need one, either. All the Philadelphia Phillies needed in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the World Series was a well-struck fly ball, a bleeder, a flare, a squib or a nubber. What they got, off the bat of catcher Carlos Ruiz, with nobody out in the ninth, was a swinging bunt. And it was barely good enough.
In the first World Series game in Philadelphia since 1993, they waited out a 91-minute rain delay and a game's worth of groan-inducing goof-ups, but the Phillies scored the only way they apparently know how -- by any means other than clutch hitting.
Ruiz's infield single gave them a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Philllies have batted 32 times with runners in scoring position in the World Series, and have accumulated exactly two base hit -- an amazing truth, but not half as amazing as the fact the Phillies are somehow still leading the series, two games to one.
Rays lefty J.P. Howell opened the bottom of the ninth by hitting Eric Bruntlett with a pitch. Rays Manager Joe Maddon quickly called upon right-hander Grant Balfour to face switch-hitting Shane Victorino, but Balfour bounced a slider in the dirt and Bruntlett took off for second, and when catcher Dioner Navarro's ill-advised throw to second skidded into center field, Bruntlett took third.
Maddon called for two straight intentional walks to load the bases, then brought right fielder Ben Zobrist in as a fifth infielder, stationed behind second base, as Balfour faced Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz.
Ruiz topped a grounder down the third base line, which might have gone foul had Rays third baseman Evan Longoria not tried to field it. His frantic, diving flip home sailed over the catcher's head, and the Phillies had won Game 3.
B.J. Upton, the Rays' speedy, dynamic center fielder, almost single-handedly tied the game in the eighth against right-hander Ryan Madson, the Phillies' superb set-up man, beating out a ground ball up the middle for an infield single, then stealing second, stealing third and coming home when the throw to third from Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz kicked away.
It was the latest start ever to a World Series game, 10:06 p.m., following a 91-minute rain delay. While all anyone could see was rain in the air and puddles on the ground, at just past 9:30 p.m., a batboy emerged from the Phillies' dugout carrying a steaming pot of coffee towards the bullpen -- the most promising sign yet that there would be baseball. Not long after, Moyer himself emerged and made his way to the outfield, where he stopped to run some wind sprints, before moving on to the bullpen.
Less than a month shy of his 46th birthday, Jamie Moyer is old enough to have once pitched against -- and beaten -- the guy who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, legendary Phillies left-hander Steve Carlton, himself retired now for 20 years. Until Tampa Bay's Upton manufactured the tying run in the eighth, Moyer, now in his 22nd season, stood to become the oldest man ever to win a World Series game.
Had they encountered each other on southbound I-95 on the way to the stadium, Matt Garza's fastball could have blown past Moyer's in the fast lane, done a few circles around it then waited up ahead at the next rest stop for it to catch up.
Moyer's 82-mph junker doesn't have near the horsepower or the dazzling finish of the 95-mph rocket belonging to the Rays' 24-year-old right-hander. But it hugged every curve and never strayed, while Garza's had trouble staying between the ditches.