PHILADELPHIA | The Philadelphia Phillies may yet lose the 105th World Series. Even with an 8-6 victory over the New York Yankees on Monday night in Game 5, the defending champs still face a daunting task, needing to win two more in the Bronx with their ace essentially unavailable the rest of the way and their bullpen a mess.
The Phillies, though, refused to let this season end on their home turf, refused to let the Yankees dance in the middle of the diamond at Citizens Bank Park and celebrate their 27th World Series title. They insisted on providing one final shining moment for their crazed fans, with Cliff Lee offering up another winning performance and Chase Utley crushing another couple of balls out of the park and the home team shaking hands at the end of the night instead of the despised visitors from up the turnpike.
“Our backs were against the wall,” Lee said. “It’s a do-or-die situation. It was a group effort, and we’re still fighting.”
Faced with possible elimination, Philadelphia’s biggest names rose to the occasion and extended an already compelling Fall Classic for at least another couple of days.
Utley was the offensive hero, smashing a three-run homer off A.J. Burnett in the first and a solo shot off Phil Coke in the seventh to continue his red-hot run at the plate. The All-Star second baseman matched Reggie Jackson’s mark of five home runs in a single World Series, and he still has another game or two to try to break the record.
“Obviously, it’s great company,” Utley said. “At some point maybe I’ll look back on it and see how special it is. But right now my goal is to win two more games.”
Lee again was the pitching hero, holding the Yankees to two runs over seven strong innings before fading in the eighth and allowing three more to score… and the game to get interesting again.
Up three in the ninth, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel elected not to hand the ball to enigmatic closer Brad Lidge (who blew Game 4) but instead to setup man Ryan Madson. Madson immediately fell into trouble, allowing a double to Jorge Posada and a single to Hideki Matsui to bring Derek Jeter to the plate representing the tying run.
The Yankees captain, though, chose a most inopportune moment to hit into his first double play of the series, a devastating 6-4-3 grounder that electrified the crowd and saved the day for Madson. Despite a Johnny Damon single, Mark Teixeira struck out to end the game with Alex Rodriguez left standing in the on-deck circle.
“In that situation, I’m just trying to get outs,” Madson said. “I had three runs to work with. I didn’t care if they scored one or two. Just as long as they didn’t score three.”
That New York lost really wasn’t a surprise. Despite their commanding 3-1 series lead entering the game, the Yankees still were sending the erratic Burnett to the mound in a situation all too familiar to the right-hander. Only 11 days earlier, he took the ball for Game 5 of the American League Championship Series with a chance to clinch the pennant in Anaheim, only to give up four first-inning runs to the Angels en route to a 7-6 loss.
With a chance to win the World Series on similarly hostile ground, Burnett again laid an egg; he was down 3-1 before recording a single out, serving up a three-run bomb to Utley that ignited the crowd and confirmed the Phillies had come to play.
And after failing to retire any of the four batters he faced in the third, Burnett got the hook from manager Joe Girardi. By the time the inning ended, the Phillies had a 6-1 lead and Burnett had failed miserably in his quest to become a part of Yankees lore.
“He just lacked command,” Girardi said. “He just wasn’t able to get it going.”
Burnett’s counterpart, meanwhile, looked every bit the part of a big-game pitcher. Continuing his fabulous run through the postseason, Lee held the New York lineup in check all night and improved to 4-0 in the playoffs.