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Phillies close in on World Series
Heavy-hitting Philadelphia crush Tampa Bay Rays 10-2 to go one win away from title.
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2008 10:04 GMT

Blanton was a glint in his father's eye last time a pitcher hit a World Series homer [GALLO/GETTY]
The Philadelphia Phillies crushed the Tampa Bay Rays 10-2 to move within one win of their first World Series crown in 28 years.

Slugger Ryan Howard belted two homers while Jayson Werth and starting pitcher Joe Blanton also cleared the fences for the Phils, who claimed a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Blanton's drive over the left-field fence was the 15th home run by a pitcher in the World Series and the first since Ken Holtzman homered for the Oakland A's in the 1974 Fall Classic.

The Rays' dream season, which has taken them from the worst record in the majors to their first Fall Classic, will come to an end if they lose Game Five at Citizens Bank Park on Monday.

Howard, who had gone the entire post-season without a homer until this match, said his big-game dreams came true.

Teenage dreams

"To be able to have two home runs in the World Series, that's the kind of stuff you dream of when you're a teenager," he said in the early hours of Monday.

"It's a great feeling."

All eyes on me: Howard adds three as Phillies dominate [GALLO/GETTY]
Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel tried to keep it simple with his team poised to add to the 1980 championship, the only one the Phillies have won in 125 years.

"We've got a game tomorrow. We played today to win the game. We did," Manuel said.

"We've got a game tomorrow. We're going to play that game to win."

Race against time

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said time was running out on his team.

"We did not play very well tonight overall. We did not pitch as well as we could," he said.

"We're definitely not swinging the bats like we can. We made some mistakes on defense. We've got to get better tomorrow fast."

Philadelphia had the upper hand from the start.

Major League home run leader Howard hit a towering three-run homer in the fourth inning to open up a 5-1 advantage against Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine.

After Rays pinch-hitter Eric Hinske homered in the fifth to cut the margin to 5-2, winning pitcher Blanton restored the four-run lead in the bottom of the same inning with the first home run of his career.

I close my eyes

"As far as the batting goes, I just close my eyes and swing hard in case I make contact," joked the 27-year-old, who could not remember hitting a homer since high school.

Werth and Howard put the icing on the cake with a pair of two-run blasts in the eighth as Blanton and the formidable Phillies bullpen combined on a five-hitter.

Phillies lead-off man Jimmy Rollins also got in on the act, going 3-for-5 and scoring three runs.

The heart of the Rays' order, meanwhile, continued to slump.

Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria, who bat third and fourth in the lineup, were hitless in seven trips to the plate and overall are 0-for-29 with 15 strikeouts in the series.

Game One winner Cole Hamels starts Game Five for the Phils, while Scott Kazmir tries to keep a remarkable turnaround season alive for Tampa Bay, who are getting their first taste of the post-season after 10 years at the bottom of the standings.

Source:
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