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Staying Alive: Phillies Send Series Back to NY

The World Series is headed back to the Bronx!  Facing elimination, Chase Utley and Cliff Lee led the Phillies to an important 8-6 victory.

Red-hot Alex Rodriguez quickly put the Yankees on the board.  A-Rod’s World Series slump is history, but Chase Utley made history of his own.  Utley’s first inning three-run bomb started a long night for A.J Burnett; yet Utley was far from done.

The Phillies tacked on runs in the third inning via RBIs by Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, and Carlos Ruiz.  Burnett was the complete opposite from game two – he lasted just two innings and gave up six runs.  Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was cruising.

Lee wasn’t lights out, but he pitched better than his line indicated.  He threw for seven innings, but tired as he approached the 100+ pitch mark.  Three of the five earned runs he allowed came in the eighth inning, including one inherited run.  Some spotty defense by JRoll and Howard also contributed to two earned runs.

Once again, it was A-Rod with the big hit.  After Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch in the first inning, Charlie Manuel opted to rest him in the eighth after the Phillies took a commanding six-run lead.  The move was questionable since Raul Ibanez was unable to make a tough catch and Ben Francisco, Victorino’s replacement, made a weak throw after a sacrifice fly RBI.  The six-run cushion was cut in half.

Chase Utley’s second home run and Ibanez’s solo shot were big reasons why the Phillies had such a large lead in the first place.  Utley now has five home runs in the World Series, tying Mr. October, Reggie Jackson’s record from 1977.  The home runs proved to be key since the Yankees continued to fight back.

After Chan Ho Park pitched a solid eighth, Ryan Madson was asked to close.  A Jorge Posada double and Hideki Matsui single set up the beginning of another potential ninth-inning nightmare.  Instead, a run was traded for a Jeter double play then Madson struck out Mark Teixeira to end the game. Whew!

Breathe a little easier, but there are still two more games the Phillies need to win and they’ll have to do that on the Yankees’ turf. Fortunately this team plays their best with their backs against the wall. So tonight, keep believing and keep those hopes high.

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