PHILADELPHIA - Guess who showed up for Halloween dressed as sluggers?
The New York Yankees and Alex Rodriguez, whose double clanked off a television camera in the right-field corner and was ruled a home run in the first instant replay call in World Series history.
It changed the game.
“I think it woke our offense up a little bit,” Rodriguez said after the Yankees rallied for a rain-delayed 8-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night that gave them a 2-1 Series lead.
Rodriguez and the rest of those dangerous New York bats finally broke loose to back another postseason win by Andy Pettitte.
Game 4 is Sunday night. Joe Blanton pitches against Yankees ace CC Sabathia, who goes on three days’ rest for the second time this postseason.
After pitching dominated the first two games in the Bronx, the Yankees and defending champion Phillies flexed their muscles, combining for six home runs at cozy Citizens Bank Park. Jayson Werth connected twice for Philadelphia.
Rain affected the Series schedule in Philly for the second consecutive year, delaying the start by 1 hour, 20 minutes. Once they hit the field in front of their boisterous fans, the Phillies built a 3-0 lead — but it was squandered by a struggling Cole Hamels, last year’s World Series MVP.
A slumping Nick Swisher and pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui also went deep for the Bronx Bombers, while Johnny Damon hit a tiebreaking, two-run double.
“This was my first time coming to this ballpark. It just seems like you’re going to have a slugfest a lot,” Swisher said. “It was a great day for us.”
Pettitte settled down after a shaky start and even helped himself at the plate with a tying single. His six-inning outing was enough to earn his 17th postseason win, extending his major league record.
“He closed off our left-handed hitters,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said.
Especially slugger Ryan Howard. The NL championship series MVP is 2 for 13 with nine strikeouts in the Series.
“Go home and go to sleep. I’m a simple guy,” he said. “We’re not going to panic by any means just because we’re down in the Series.”
Carlos Ruiz homered for the Phillies in the ninth off Phil Hughes. Mariano Rivera finished up at 12:42 a.m. in a non-save situation.
“It was an absolute grind tonight, that’s for sure,” Pettitte said. “I can’t remember winning a game where I’ve struggled like I did tonight. So it’s very gratifying.”
With the Yankees down three runs, Mark Teixeira walked in the fourth and Rodriguez hit an opposite-field drive into the right-field corner. He cruised into second base after the ball ricocheted back onto the field.
Video replays, however, showed the ball struck the lens of a television camera positioned just above the fence at the 330-foot sign. New York manager Joe Girardi came out to talk with right-field umpire Jeff Nelson as Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee visited the mound.
While Rodriguez chatted with Howard at second base, umpires huddled in the infield. Four of the six went under the stands for a look at the replay and emerged about a minute later.
The signal: home run.
Baseball adopted instant replay for boundary calls during the 2008 season and Rodriguez homered the first time it was used last year.
“It’s only fitting, right?” he said.
Rodriguez’s first hit in nine World Series at-bats was his sixth homer this postseason, tying Bernie Williams’ club record from 1996. It also was the 17th postseason homer this year for the Yankees, setting a franchise mark.
The call seemed to give the Yankees a boost and help them break out of their Series slump — the team that led the majors in runs (915) and homers (244) during the regular season scored only four times in the first two games at home.
“Tonight I was a lot more disciplined, and better results,” Rodriguez said.
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