NEW YORK - More than any slugger on either team, pitching has been the star of this World Series.
A.J. Burnett took a page from Cliff Lee’s how-to manual and backed by a few key hits and a sharp pickoff throw, New York drew even with the Phillies at one game apiece.
Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui helped rally the Yankees with solo homers off familiar foe Pedro Martinez, and Burnett’s biting curveball frustrated Philadelphia in a 3-1 victory Thursday night.
After his team lost 6-1 in Wednesday’s opener, Burnett happened to hear Lee talk about confidence during an on-field interview. It left an impression.
“He talked about belief in his stuff, and all I told myself last night and today was the same thing,” Burnett said. “I went out tonight with confidence, and just, you know, the game just rolled by.”
Light-hitting Matt Stairs, in a 4-for-51 slide, put the Phillies on top with an RBI single in the second off the glove of third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Philadelphia never got another runner past second base against Burnett and Mariano Rivera, who combined on a six-hitter.
After a day off, Game 3 will be at Philadelphia on Saturday night.
“We’re not depressed at all. We feel pretty good,” Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said.
New York had managed only an unearned run in the first 12 innings of the Series but came to life after a pickoff throw from backup catcher Jose Molina caught Jayson Werth off first in the fourth inning. The Yankees went on to their first Series win at their new $1.5 billion ballpark — and their first since taking a 2-1 lead against Florida in 2003.
“They’re the best team we’ve played all year,” New York’s Derek Jeter said. “They’re champs for a reason, and we need to play well if we’re going to beat them.”
“I think the home run got the crowd back in it,” Teixeira said. “It kind of put a little bit of a crack in their armor.”
Matsui put New York ahead with two outs in the sixth, reaching down for a curveball below his knees and sending it a few rows into the seats in right.
“I was able to make a good adjustment and put a good swing on it and fortunately it led to the result,” he said through a translator.
Jorge Posada, on the bench because Molina has become Burnett’s personal catcher, pinch hit in the seventh and added an RBI single off Chan Ho Park.
Burnett got his first win following three postseason no-decisions for the Yankees, allowing four hits in seven innings and retiring his last eight batters.
“He went to his bread-and-butter, that backdoor curveball. It’s impossible to hit,” Stairs said.
Burnett struck out nine and started his first 11 hitters with strikes, nine of them looking. Burnett kept his control, walking two, one intentional.
“A.J.’s breaking ball, it starts in the other batter’s box,” said Ryan Howard, who struck out three times against Burnett and four times in all. “That’s a nasty pitch, nasty today.”
Rivera got six outs for his 38th postseason save, his 10th in World Series play. After the Phillies put two on with one out in the eighth, Game 1 star Chase Utley grounded into an inning-ending double play.
When Rivera struck out Stairs with a runner on to end it, the Yankees sounded relieved.
“If we went in there 0-2, it would have been a tough road for us,” Teixeira said.
NEW YORK (AP) - Yankees fans showed Don Mattingly the love from the moment he took the lineup card to home plate Wednesday. Hiroki Kuroda, though, wasn't feeling nostalgic when facing his old team.
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