World Series Game Three: Phireworks in Philly

Scott StantonCorrespondent IOctober 25, 2008

After a 91-minute rain delay, Game Three of the World Series got underway in Philadelphia in front of the 45,900 fans in attendance. It was the latest start ever for a World Series game, and it was the home team that got on the board first. Chase Utley brought home Jimmy Rollins with an RBI ground out in the bottom of the first that put the Phillies up by one.

The Rays came out fighting in the top of the second when Carl Crawford got a leadoff double to get the party started for the Rays. After Dioner Navarro lined out to second, Crawford stole third base during Gabe Gross' at-bat. Gross eventually flew out to center, and Crawford was able to score easily from third to tie the game at one a piece.

Carlos Ruiz preferred his team have the lead and took things into his hands when he went yard in his first plate appearance of the evening. The Phillies were able to regain the lead and went up two to one before Garza and Moyer were able to settle in.

Despite the temperature, which was in the low 50s, things started to heat up for the Phillies in the bottom of the sixth. The ever-dangerous Chase Utley started things off by collecting a leadoff dinger to put Philly up three to one. Next batter, Ryan Howard, showed Utley he wasn't the only guy who could homer off Garza when he collected a four-bagger of his own.

The back-to-back home runs extended the Phillies lead by three as the game headed into the seventh frame.

The Rays immediately went to work on closing the gap when Carl Crawford reached on a controversial bunt. Crawford was called safe by first base ump Tom Hallion, off a glove-toss from Moyer to a bare-handed catch by Ryan Howard. Replays showed that Crawford was clearly out by a good half of a step, but first base ump Tom Hallion was positioned behind Howard and unable to get a clear view of the play.

Crawford advanced to third after Dioner Navarro doubled to left field. Jason Bartlett was able to bring Crawford home on a sacrifice grounder to first, which also allowed Navarro to advance to third. 

With the Rays knocking, Charlie Manuel decided it was time for Moyer to tip his cap and let the bullpen take over. Chad Durbin came on in relief of Moyer to face Jason Bartlett and gave up a RBI ground out on his first pitch.

Moyer was responsible for Navarro, who scored off Bartlett's RBI groundout and ended up going 6.1 innings with five strike outs and only giving up five hits, three runs, and one walk.

Darbin's second batter of his outing was Willy Aybar, who came in to hit for Garza.  Darbin ended his night by walking Aybar and Scott Eyre came on in his relief. Eyre got the Phillies out of the seventh by fanning Tampa Bay's second baseman, Akinori Iwamura, but the Rays were closing in on their lead and the score was now three to four.

The eighth inning started off with an impressive display of speed by Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton. Bossman hit a chopper to the shortstop but kicked on the afterburners to beat the throw to first. After playing cat and mouse with Philly reliever Ryan Madison, Upton was able to successfully steal second.

With his confidence still high, Bossman Junior took off for third two pitches later. Ruiz made a bad throw to third, which was deflected off Upton's foot as he slid into third, sending it towards the dugout. Upton sprung to his feet, took off for home, and leveled the score at four a piece.

J.C. Romero was brought in to the game to face Carl Crawford, whom he got to pop out to right on his first pitch. With Bradford on the hill for Tampa Bay in the bottom of the eighth, and Romero back out to work the top of the ninth, it was six up and six down as the game looked to be in a gridlock as it headed in to the bottom of the ninth still tied at four.

With J.P. Howell on the hill for Tampa Bay, Philly fans felt like they could be in for an even longer night, as it was already well past one in the morning local time. But on a two-and-one count, Philadelphia's Eric Bruntlett got stung by a pitch and trotted down to first base. With the lead runner on, Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon took a trip to the mound to take the ball from Howell and hand it over to Grant Balfour.

Balfour worked the count to one and one before delivering a wild pitch that sent Bruntlett hustling for second and Navarro hustling for the passed ball. Navarro gunned the ball towards second, but his ball was as wild as Balfour's. As the ball sailed into the outfield, Bruntlett started booking for third, where he was able to slide in safely. With the game winning run 90 feet away, Tampa Bay elected to intentionally walk Shane Victorino and Greg Dobbs.

Now, with the bases loaded, no outs and the bottom of the ninth inning, things got even more interesting. Maddon, known for his unconventional styles, came out to rearrange his defense to a five-man infield. Maddon pulled Ben Zobrist from right field, had him switch to his infielder's glove, and put him in the shortstop position.

Rays shortstop, Jason Bartlett, slid to cover second base, while second basemen Akinori Iwamura shifted halfway between first and second. 

With left and center field playing shallow, and right field completely open, Carlos Ruiz squared up in the box. Ruiz had already nailed a fence buster back in the second, but he could win the game with a lot less than that.

Then, on a two-and-two count, Ruiz blooped one halfway down the third-base line. Longoria ran in and fielded it bare handed, but with Bruntlett ahead of him in the basepath, he made a wild toss that Navarro had no chance at catching.

Ruiz came up big by going small, Bruntlett scored, and the Phillies won their first World Series game in Philly in 15 years.