Yankees 7 Phillies 4
PHILADELPHIA — Alex Rodriguez waited all game for this hit. In fact, he waited his whole career.
Rodriguez delivered the biggest hit of his career, a go-ahead, two-out double in the ninth inning off Brad Lidge as the New York Yankees took advantage of Johnny Damon’s daring dash to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-4 on Sunday night for a 3-1 lead in the World Series.
Derek Jeter delivered again and Mariano Rivera closed it out as the Yankees moved within one win of that elusive 27th championship and first since 2000. Rodriguez could really savour this victory — seething after again being hit by a pitch, he struck back with his potent bat.
The Yankees will try to clinch it tonight when A.J. Burnett faces October ace Cliff Lee.
“Facing Brad Lidge, he’s a great competitor. He’s had a lot of success late here. Just trying to make contact there,” Rodriguez said.
Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz hit late home runs for the Phillies that tied it 4-4. Then it moved to the ninth and Phils brought in Lidge — a post-season star last year, he had struggled all season before regaining his touch this October. But November was not so kind to him.
Lidge had been the only closer in the playoffs who hadn’t allowed a run until the Yankees tagged him. With two outs, Damon capped a nine-pitch at-bat with a single. The Phillies overshifted their infield to the right side for Mark Teixeira and Damon took off.
Damon beat the one-hop throw to steal second, popped up from his slide and noticed no one was covering third. That’s because Feliz had handled the throw, and Damon easily beat the third baseman to the bag for a rare double-steal.
Lidge then hit Teixeira with a pitch and up stepped Rodriguez, 1-for-13 to that point in his first World Series and looking nothing like the feared slugger he was earlier in these playoffs.
Putting all his past post-season failures behind, Rodriguez lined a solid double into the left-field corner for a 5-4 lead. He connected so solidly, the sound echoed throughout Citizens Bank Park. Maybe it wasn’t such a surprise — Rodriguez had homered and doubled in three prior at-bats against Lidge.
The crowd was silent when Jorge Posada followed with a two-run single. And just like that, the Yankees were on the verge of celebrating and the defending champion Phillies were on the brink of getting eliminated.
Feliz rocked Yankees setup man Joba Chamberlain with a two-out, solo home run in the eighth that tied it 4-4.
Utley homered again off CC Sabathia, finishing the New York starter in the seventh. It was Utley’s third shot off Sabathia in this Series and closed the Phillies to 4-3.