The New York Yankees have won the World Series, beating the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 in Game 6 behind Hideki Matsui's record-tying six RBIs.
|Champions: The New York Yankees [GALLO/GETTY]
Andy Pettitte won the clincher, pitching the Yankees to their elusive 27th championship and first since 2000.
Matsui homered, doubled and singled, and tied Bobby Richardson's 49-year-old record for RBIs in a Series game.
His two-run homer off Pedro Martinez in the second inning started the Yankees on their way.
Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez helped the Yankees wrap up a successful season in their first year at the new $1.5 billion Yankee Stadium.
It capped a season that started in turmoil, a steroids scandal involving A-Rod, followed by hip surgery that kept him out until May.
"My teammates, coaches and the organization stood by me and now we stand here as world champions,'' Rodriguez said. "We're going to enjoy it, and we're going to party!''
For Chase Utley and the Phillies, it was a frustrating end to another scintillating season.
Philadelphia fell two wins short of becoming the first National League team to repeat as World Series champions since the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds.
Ryan Howard's sixth-inning homer came too late to wipe away his World Series slump, and Phillies pitchers rarely managed to slow Matsui and the Yankees' machine.
"It's important in our next couple years to stay afloat,'' Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I know we can do better.''
In a fitting coincidence, this championship came eight years to the day after the Yankees lost Game 7 of the 2001 World Series in Arizona on Luis Gonzalez's broken-bat single off Rivera.
Jorge Posada, Jeter, Pettitte and Rivera, now with their fifth World Series rings, came up together through the minor leagues and were cornerstones for the four titles in five years starting in 1996.
Now, all over 35-years-of-age, they have another success to celebrate. And surely they remember the familiar parade route, up Broadway through the Canyon of Heroes.
"You never know when you're going to get back here,'' Posada said.
For 79-year-old owner George Steinbrenner, who has been in declining health, it was the seventh championship since he bought the team in 1973.
New York wasted its chance to wrap things up in Game 5 at Philadelphia, then set its sights on clinching the World Series at home for the first time since 1999.
"We're looking forward to this parade,'' Jeter said.
|For every victor there is a vanquished: The dejected Phillies look on [GALLO/GETTY]
New York's eight seasons without a championship was the third-longest stretch for the Yankees since their first one, following gaps of 17 (1979-95) and 14 (1963-76).
Reggie Jackson's three homers in Game 6 against the Los Angeles Dodgers made the Yankees champs in '77.
On this November night, Matsui delivered a sublime performance at the plate.
"It's awesome,'' Matsui said through a translator. "Unbelievable. I'm surprised myself.''
Playing perhaps his final game with the Yankees, Matsui hit a two-run homer off Martinez in the second inning and a two-run single on an 0-2 pitch in the third.
A slumping Mark Teixeira added an RBI single in the fifth off reliever Chad Durbin, and Matsui cracked a two-run double off the right-center fence against lefty J.A. Happ.
A designated hitter with bad knees, Matsui came off the bench in all three games at Philadelphia.
Still, he had a huge Series, going 8 for 13 (.615) with three homers and eight RBIs. His go-ahead shot off an effective Martinez in Game 2 helped the Yankees tie it 1-all.
Bobby Richardson was the only other player with six RBIs in a World Series game, doing it for the Yankees in Game 3 against Pittsburgh in 1960.
Richardson had a first-inning grand slam and a two-run single in the fourth.
Matsui's big hits built a comfortable cushion for a feisty Pettitte, who shouted at plate umpire Joe West while coming off the field in the fourth.
Still, Pettitte extended major league records with his 18th postseason win and sixth to end a series.
The 37-year-old left-hander, pitching on three days' rest, became the first pitcher to start and win the clincher in all three postseason rounds.
He beat Minnesota and the Los Angeles Angels in the AL playoffs.
Pettitte lasted 5 2-3 innings, allowing three runs, four hits and five walks.
Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte combined for 1 2-3 innings of scoreless relief before Rivera secured the final five outs.
It had been nearly a half-century since players had won five titles with one team.
The last to do it? Of course a bunch of Yankees: Yogi Berra (10 titles), Mickey Mantle (seven) and Whitey Ford (six) in 1962.
For second-year manager Joe Girardi, a three-time Yankees champion as a player, it was the fulfillment of a mission.
When he succeeded Joe Torre in October 2007, Girardi chose uniform No. 27, putting his quest on his back for all to see.
His tenure didn't start out so well, with New York missing the playoffs in its final season at old Yankee Stadium following 13 consecutive appearances.
A-Rod became a newly minted champion following a sordid spring in which he admitted using steroids from 2001-03 with Texas and then needed hip surgery.