It can't get any weirder for the Rays, can it?
PHILADELPHIA -- Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, is routinely referred to as "cozy" and "hitter-friendly" by the media. And opposing relievers forced to listen to fans who lean over the bullpen railing and hurl insults probably think of the place as "hostile."
After an exasperating, stunning loss in Game 3 of the World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays' hitters might prefer a different adjective.
The Rays fell behind against soft-tossing lefty Jamie Moyer but fought back behind the legs of Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton to forge a late tie. Yet it all came crashing down in a strange bottom of the ninth, when a swinging bunt by catcher Carlos Ruiz scored Eric Bruntlett to give the Phillies a 5-4 victory, a 2-1 Series lead and reason to go crazy as the stunned Tampa Bay players headed up the stairs to their clubhouse.
Even the serenity-based Rays, who pride themselves on their adherence to manager Joe Maddon's 30-minute rule -- which decrees that they have a half hour to celebrate victories or stew over losses -- seemed a bit taken aback by this one.
"It's just one of those days where the things that they did were right and the baseball gods were on their side," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "It's one of those games where everything goes right for the opposition."Hey, he should know. With the score tied at 4 entering the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies squeezed across a run straight out of Bizarro World. Tampa Bay reliever J.P. Howell started things off when he plunked Bruntlett in the thigh with a cut fastball. Then, Maddon summoned strikeout artist Grant Balfour, who wild-pitched Bruntlett to second base. The ball caromed off the back wall to catcher Dioner Navarro, but his throw sailed to the right of second base and into center field, and Bruntlett easily raced to third to put the Phillies in great shape with nobody out. Even with time to reflect, Navarro declined to question his decision to make the throw. He just lamented the lack of execution. "I knew I had a bead on him," Navarro said. "I wouldn't ever second-guess myself there. I think I'm pretty accurate with my throws. Unfortunately, I made a bad throw at the wrong moment."
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WORLD SERIES GAME 3: PHILLIES 5, RAYS 4
After a 91-minute rain delay, the Phillies and Rays played a wild game, one the Phils won with a run in the bottom of the ninth.
Story | Series page
• Jayson Stark: Wild night ends with Phillies win
• Jerry Crasnick: Rays see it all in Game 3
• Gene Woj: You're missing a great Series
• Inside Edge reports: Phillies | Rays
• Game 3 blog
• Baseball Tonight Clubhouse: Game 4 preview
• Phillies take 2-1 lead over Rays in Series
• BBTN breaks down Phillies' win
• Jamie Moyer talks about his start
• Jayson Stark, Jim Caple video blog
• A look back at Game 3 and ahead to Game 4
• Jim Caple tours Citizens Bank Park
• Postgame interviews with Moyer, Utley, Ruiz