World Series: Phillies Gallop Past Rays

The Philadelphia Phillies lead the World Series three games to one. The Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays 10-2 Sunday to move within one win of their first title since 1980.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

When the World Series began, we were told the Tampa Bay fans were ecstatic. They were thrilled to be in the series, win or lose. Today that positive attitude may be more necessary than ever because Philadelphia pounded the Rays 10-2. The Phillies are now within a game of winning. They get their first chance at that win tonight in Philadelphia, a city dying for a champion. NPR's Mike Pesca has more.

MIKE PESCA: In Saturday's game, the Phillies took control of this series. In response, 45,000 Phillies fans lost control.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

PESCA: They were still joyous on the subway headed down to Game Four last night, but the good mood owed much to the soulful renderings of subway troubadour, Sonny Forest, Jr.

Mr. SONNY FOREST, JR. (Subway Troubadour): (Singing) We're gonna take the Rays tonight.

PESCA: Sitting in a motorized scooter, dressed in an amount of red that Santa Claus might deem excessive, Sonny has his good leg tucked behind a fairly large speaker and a prosthetic leg resting on top. He delivers a message of brotherhood and hope for a city so badly in need of the latter that they often fail to embrace the former. But when their teams are winning, Philly fans show their passion. After that Game Three victory, Jake Wright(ph) slept for about two hours. Then he proceeded to the intersection of Broad and Pattison where both the town's baseball and football stadiums are located.

(Soundbite of car horns)

Mr. JAKE WRIGHT: Tailgated for the Eagles game, went to the Eagles game, got a victory. Tailgating for the Phillies game. If there's anywhere in the world, I want to be in Philly right now, and I am.

PESCA: His enthusiasm was justified as the Phils proceeded to conduct a home run derby. Even Joe Blanton, the Phillies' winning pitcher, thought it might be a fun idea to notch his first extra base hit with a World Series blast. Leadoff man Jimmy Rollins described what he saw from the on-deck circle.

Mr. JIMMY ROLLINS (Baseball Player, Philadelphia Phillies): And I've seen it come off the bat and looked at Joe, and he dropped his head and his jaw. And I'm like, he knows he got that, doesn't he?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ROLLINS: You know, and I'm watching now, and everything's going in slow motion. And I'm just like, wow, his first home run in a World Series. I'm like, I don't even do that.

PESCA: Blanton hitting a home run is like novelty singer Sheb Wooley having a number one hit with Purple People Eater. Quirky, but you know that Elvis rules the charts. And the Elvis of baseball is Ryan Howard, prodigious, prolific and prone to leave the building. Howard's two home runs in the four the Phillies' hit overall left their manager Charlie Manuel to ponder the very nature of the home run.

Mr. CHARLIE MANUEL (Manager, Philadelphia Phillies): I always say that a home run is nothing more than a well-hit fly ball that comes down behind a fence.

PESCA: Sure, and a three-game lead to one in the World Series is nothing more than a pleasant cushion. Well, that's what all the Phillies say. It's what they have to say. They practically have it encoded in their DNA to say it. Second baseman Chase Utley.

Mr. CHASE UTLEY (Baseball Player, Philadelphia Phillies): I don't know how many games we've played all year, but we're going to treat it just like the rest of them.

PESCA: Pitcher Jamie Moyer.

Mr. JAMIE MOYER (Baseball Player, Philadelphia Phillies): You've got to take it a game at a time, a pitch at a time, an out at a time, and an inning at a time.

PESCA: But Moyer does bring a bit more perspective. Well, he's literally twice as old as some of the players on the field. When asked, haven't you ever thought about winning a World Series? He cops to it. Once, a long time ago.

Mr. MOYER: In these last couple weeks, no. You know, as you know, in my dreams, and, you know, pondering at times, yeah. But you know, it wasn't any time in the recent past.

PESCA: In the recent past, this city has seen much sports disappointment. If the players are loathe to admit looking forward to anything other than the first pitch and then the second and so on, the fans are yearning to sing a victory song for the first time in a long time. Mike Pesca, NPR News, Philadelphia.

Mr. FOREST JR.: (Singing) The Phillies are gonna win the game tonight. We're gonna win tonight. Tonight. We're gonna win the game tonight. We stick together like...

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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