Phillies Win World Series, 4-3, Over Rays

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The Philadelphia Phillies are the new World Series champions. They won Wednesday night's decisive fifth game, 4-3, over the Tampa Bay Rays. The game took two days to complete following Monday's rain delay.


We turn now to the champions of the 2008 baseball season, the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays were tied in the middle of the sixth inning on Monday night when heavy rain forced that game to be suspended. Last night in Philadelphia, the teams picked up where they left off and played what amounted to a three-inning mini-game. NPR's Mike Pesca reports.

MIKE PESCA: A lot happened during the middle of the sixth inning of Game 5. Six babies were born at Hannaman Hospital in Philadelphia in the middle of the sixth. The stock market went up almost 900 points, then came down nearly 100. The candidates gave speeches. But once the baseball game came unstuck 46 hours later, things returned to form. The Phillies scored almost immediately. The first run-scoring hit was a little flare off the bat of Jayson Werth, who later found his voice hoarse from celebrating the effects of his bloop single.

Mr. JAYSON WERTH (Baseball Player, Philadelphia Phillies): I had flashes of Luis Gonzalez going through my head. So, I was pumped, but I actually didn't go as far as I thought. But hey, I'll take it.

PESCA: An appropriate comparison. Gonzalez was the player whose broken-bat hit in 2001 won the World Series for the Diamondbacks. Werth's short fly slipped through the second baseman's hands, and the Phils took an early lead, or a late lead, depending on which day you started counting. But Rays' outfielder Rocco Baldelli, batting in the top of the seventh, showed that the Rays season was still intact. Later, Baldelli described the sensation of hitting a home run in a hostile stadium.

Mr. ROCCO BALDELLI (Baseball Player, Tampa Bay Rays): It's not really a feeling that you get playing in regular season games very often. I mean, it's just, kind of, you know, the place was as loud as it could possibly be, and then it was as silent as it could possibly be.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

PESCA: Perhaps Baldelli, a native of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, was less bothered by the cold than the rest of the Rays were. His teammates would not score again. The Phils, however, were warmed by nearly 45,000 fans. And in their next at bat, with a man on third, Pedro Feliz faced Rays reliever Chad Bradford, a pitcher who's normally tougher on righties than But Feliz jumped on a fat fast ball, and the Phillies were ahead. Radio station WPHT has the call.

(Soundbite of radio broadcast)

Mr. HARRY KALIS (Sports Announcer, WPHT): And the pitch, swung on line - a base hit into center field. (Unintelligible) will score and Pedro has come through. Four, three Phillies in the seventh on a Pedro Feliz RBI single.

PESCA: And then it was time for history. The Phillies brought in reliever Brad Lidge, who'd found his confidence shattered after yielding a home run in the World Series three years ago. But this year, Lidge was 47 for 47 in save situations. If he recorded three outs in this spot, he would be the only closer ever to have a perfect season. An out, a hit, a pinch runner, a steal, another out. Runner on second, one run lead, Lidge worked the count to 0 and 2 against Eric Hinske, the Rays pinch hitter who had only one at bat in this series. It was a home run. Lidge picks it up from there.

Mr. BRAD LIDGE (Baseball Player, Philadelphia Phillies): Carlos came out, and he said, I'm not going to call a sign. We're going to throw a slider here down. And so, honestly, when I was back on the mount, I just gripped the slider, and I didn't have a single thought in my head. I mean, I just gripped the slider and let my body take over.

(Soundbite of World Series Final)

Mr. KALIS: The O-2 pitch. Swinger event. Got him out. The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions...

PESCA: Perhaps legendary broadcaster Harry Kalis and the entire championship-starved city of Philadelphia can heed the words of Brad Lidge, who said that he was grateful for all the hard times because they made him better and led him to right here right now. Mike Pesca, NPR News, Philadelphia.

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