After being swept out of the 2007 playoffs by the Colorado Rockies, the Phillies were determined to not repeat their failures in 2008.
After clinching their second straight division title the Phillies dispatched of the hot Milwaukee Brewers and took out Manny Ramirez and the rejuvenated Los Angeles Dodgers. All that was left was a match-up with the Cinderella story from the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays.
For either team the 2008 Fall Classic was going to be the perfect ending to a wonderful season. Philadelphia though was looking to capture their first world championship in any sport in a quarter century.
We continue our next phlashback series with a look at game three of the 2008 World Series, which took place in Philadelphia.
2008 World Series
Tampa Bay Rays (97-65) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (92-70)
Game Three: Phillies win 5-4, Lead Series 2-1
For the first time in fifteen years the World Series had returned to Philadelphia, but the return would be delayed by rain. After a 91 minute rain delay the Phillies and Rays resumed their series, which was tied at one, in the latest starting World Series game in history. Jamie Moyer took the mound in the first World Series game of his lengthy career.
Moyer set the Rays down in the first inning despite walking Carlos Pena. The Phillies offense would be quick to give Moyer a lead in the bottom of the first inning. After Jimmy Rollins lead off the inning with a single Chase Utley later brought Rollins home on a ground out.
Rays starter Matt Garza struck out Ryan Howard and got Pat Burrell to pop up to end the inning.
The Rays responded in the top of the second by scoring Carl Crawford, who hit a lead off double, on a sacrifice fly. But the Phillies struck back and regained the lead in the bottom of the inning when Carlos Ruiz hit a solo home run off of Garza.
Home run trots would continue later on in the bottom of the sixth inning. With Moyer cruising it was Utley and Howard who would boost the lead to 4-1. The second and first basemen hit back-to-back home runs to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning.
Just before the seventh inning stretch though Moyer got into a bit of trouble. Carl Crawford hit a successful bunt for a single to lead off, although replays show that Moyer got the ball to Howard in time for the out.
Dioner Navarro followed with a double to left field to put the lead off runners in scoring position. Gabe Gross's ground out scored Crawford, cutting the Phillies lead to two runs.
Chad Durbin came in to reliever Moyer, but a Jason Bartlett ground out scored Navarro to trim the lead down to one run. Durbin got the Phillies out of the inning though with that small lead.
As had become the standard, Ryan Madson entered the game to set the game up for a Brad Lidge save. Clinging to a one run lead things were getting tense at Citizens Bank Park for the fans.
B.J. Upton was the lead off batter and Madson failed to put him away. Upton hit a ground ball to Rollins on a 3-2 pitch, and Rollins double clutched the ball and didn't get the ball to first in time.
With American League rookie of the year Evan Longoria up the Rays were seeking to take over the momentum in the game. On Madson's first pitch to Longoria the speedy Upton stole second base.
On the very next pitch Upton then attempted to steal third base. Ruiz's throw got past third basemen Pedro Feliz though and Upton raced home to tie the game at four runs apiece. The Rays seemingly had taken the game over, but they still had to take a lead, which they failed to do in the eighth inning.
Jayson Werth looked to give the Phillies the lead right back in the bottom of the eighth and drew a lead off walk. Werth took off and stole second base himself with Utley up to bat. Utley then struck out and Howard came up to the plate and Phillies fans were feeling good. But then Werth was picked off at second base and Howard struck out to end the inning.
After J.C. Romero pitched a perfect ninth inning it was up to the unsung heroes of the Phillies offense to put an end to game three.
Eric Bruntlett, who had replaced Burrell in the seventh inning in left field for defensive purposes, lead off the inning by getting hit by a pitch. Bruntlett took off to second base on a wild pitch by Rays reliever Grant Balfour, and then reached third base on an error on the throw to second.
The winning run was now ninety feet away with nobody out. The Rays decided to intentionally walk Shane Victorino and pinch hitter Greg Dobbs to load the bases and setting up a force out at home.
Up stepped Ruiz, who had already hit a home run in the game. On a 2-2 pitch Ruiz hit a chopper down the third base line and Longoria could not field the ball clean enough to get a decent toss home to get Bruntlett. The Phillies walked off with the thrilling game three victory late into the night.
With the win the Phillies took a 2-1 series lead and felt good about their chances of wrapping things up at home. The Phillies had not lost a post season game at home through the first two rounds.