Friday, October 24, 2008

Even - Rays Beat Phils With Small Ball, Tie the Series

By JC De La Torre

The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Philadelphia Phillies playing National League styled small ball and even the World Series at one game a piece with a 4-2 victory at Tropicana Field. "Big Game" James Sheilds continously pitched himself out of trouble as the Phillies continued to struggle to get hits with men in scoring position. Philadelphia is now 1-for-28 with runners at 2nd or 3rd, and for three straight innings in this one they had a runner on third and one out, but couldn't bring home the runs.

The Rays on the other hand, did put the ball in play when the opportunity presented itself. After a 1-2-3 first by Shields in the top frame of the 1st, Tampa Bay opened the bottom half with a flurry. Aki Iwamurra led off with a walk from pitcher Brett Myers. Upton then singled to right field, but Phillies RF Jason Werth to his eye off the ball while trying to spy if Iwamurra was going to third and booted it. Upton and Iwamurra advanced on the error. Pena grounded out to the 2nd baseman, who had no play at the plate or third, Iwamurra scored, Upton advanced to 3rd and the Rays led 1-0. Longoria followed with a hard grounder to shortstop, Upton was running on contact and they had no play at the play, Rays led 2-0 after 1 inning.

In the top of the second, the Phillies got Burrell and Howard on 2nd and 3rd with only one down, but Shields struck out the DH Dobbs and got Pedro Feliz to fly out to get out of the jam. In the bottom half, after a fly out by Cliff Floyd, Navarro singled, Baldelli walked, and Bartlett had an infield single to load the bases with only one away. Aki would pop out to short, but Upton would save the inning with a single to right scoring Navarro. Baldelli also tried to score on the single, but a great throw by Werth had Baldelli dead to rights, Philly catcher Carlos Ruiz held on to the ball and the inning ended with the Rays up 3-0.

Top of the third, another threat from Philadelphia, Ruiz doubled to left and a grounder by James Rollins would advance him to third. Shields began to weave his magic again, striking out Werth and getting Utley to ground out to second to get out of trouble. The Rays would go in order in the bottom half.

The 4th inning provided even more frustration for Philadelphia. Ryan Howard, who was good with the bat tonight, singled to Right. Burrell ground out to third but Howard advanced. Victorino would reach on an infield single, Howard would advance to third with only one out. For the 2nd time, Shields would strike out Dobbs with a runner at 3rd and only 1 down, and then followed that with a ground out to Longoria by Pedro Feliz. In the bottom half, the Rays showed the Phillies how its done, after singles by Cliff Floyd and Dioner Navarro, Baldelli grounded into a force at 2nd, leaving runners on the corner with 1 away. From there, Jason Bartlett executed a safety squeeze perfectly, as he placed the bunt down the first place side, Floyd scored and Baldelli advanced to second, the Rays had a 4-0 lead.

It would stay that way until the top of the 8th, when the PH Brunlett homered of the relief pitcher David Price, who came in to get the final 7 outs. Price remained in for the 9th, allowed to run but got the Rays out of the inning and the game for a 4-2 victory.

Shields went 5 and 2/3, allowing no runs on 7 hits, 2 walks, and he struck out 4. Myers lasted a little longer, going 7 innings, allowing 7 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), with 3 walks and 2 strike outs for Philly.

The stage shifts to Philadelphia, where the Rays will have Matt Garza on the mound for Game 3, the Phillies counter with the 45 yr old veteran, Jamie Moyer.

If the Rays can take 2-3 of three in Philly, the same way they did in Boston, they'll have two chances at the Trop to close out the Phillies.

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