ST. PETERSBURG -- Brett Myers eventually settled down but the offense never settled in, and in the end, the Phillies settled for a World Series split on Thursday night.
After a second evening of missed offensive chances, the Phillies lost, 4-2, to the Rays in Game 2 at cowbell-filled Tropicana Field. They'll jet out of the sun tied at a game apiece in the World Series, having reduced the Series to a best-of-five event.
"It's like we have home-field advantage now," said closer Brad Lidge, who earned the Game 1 save but didn't get a chance in Game 2. "It's 1-1 and we have three games at home. We have to make sure we go home and play our best. I'd say we have a slight edge right now."
A sweep of three games at Citizens Bank Park, starting with Game 3 scheduled for Saturday, would give Philadelphia its second World Series championship, and the city its first major sports title of any kind since 1983. Anything less than a sweep brings the series back to Florida.
While home cooking would be nice, manager Charlie Manuel said getting the bats cooking at the right time to bring baserunners home is what matters most.
"I'm sure getting home, that will help us," he said. "We had more guys on base than they had. We had more chances to score than they had. We just didn't execute. We've been getting hits and putting guys on base. We just didn't score. We've had periods like that during the season."
They can't afford such a period now. The Phillies won Wednesday's Game 1 despite going 0-for-13 with running in scoring position -- a World Series record -- but followed with a 1-for-15 tally Thursday. The lone hit was actually a Shane Victorino infield single that didn't score a run.
Despite getting the leadoff batter on base in six innings, including three times with a double, the Phillies couldn't cash in.
"I'm concerned about us hitting with guys on base, because it looks like at times we might be trying a little too hard," Manuel said. "But we can fix that."
"We have to find a way to at least put the ball in play with a man on first," hitting coach Milt Thompson said. "We're not even putting it in play. You can't win ballgames like that."
The Phillies had plenty of chances off Tampa Bay's "Big Game" James Shields, though they let him escape each time.
Take the second inning. Ryan Howard doubled and Pat Burrell walked, but Victorino fouled to third on the first pitch, Greg Dobbs struck out and Pedro Feliz lined to center.
Then there's the fourth, when a Howard single and a Victorino single put runners on first and third with one out. Dobbs again struck out and Feliz grounded out.
Carlos Ruiz reached base to start four separate innings -- twice with doubles -- and scored only one run, when Evan Longoria committed a ninth-inning error.
The 2008 World Series is the 16th since 1969 to be even after Game 2. Six of the first 15 series have gone on to seven games, and the team that won Game 2 went on to win the Series eight times.
Mets in 5
Athletics in 7
Athletics in 5
Reds in 7
Yankees in 6
Pirates in 7
Cardinals in 7
Orioles in 5
Tigers in 5
Blue Jays in 6
Blue Jays in 6
Marlins in 7
Angels in 7
Marlins in 6
Cardinals in 5
* - Home team for Game 2
"We're just not getting it done," Victorino said. "We were able to pull one out last night, but not tonight. We got ourselves in a situation to tie the game with one swing, and that's without executing. If we do the little things, we'd be right there in the ballgame. It's not about making excuses. We're just not doing it."
On the mound, Thursday's second game featured more of an uphill battle from the Phillies starter than the gem Cole Hamels turned in the night before in Game 1, when he didn't give the Rays much chance.
Trying to control first-inning emotions, Myers began with a five-pitch walk to Akinori Iwamura. B.J. Upton followed with a single to right on an 0-2 pitch. The runners advanced to second and third when Upton's ball bounced away from Jayson Werth for an error. Both scored as Carlos Pena and Longoria delivered RBI groundouts.
"That's two runs right there," Victorino said. "We couldn't do that."
Myers' early lapse marked the 17th time in 33 starts this season that he's allowed at least one run in the opening inning. He lasted seven innings, allowing just seven hits while only three of the four runs he allowed were earned. They all count.
"I made a few mistakes tonight, and they're what hurt me," Myers said. "I feel we're going to go back and forth the whole series."
Tampa Bay plated a third run in the second when it loaded the bases -- albeit thanks in part to a disputed check swing on a full-count pitch to Rocco Baldelli, drawing an argument from Manuel, to no avail. Then Upton laced an RBI single to right, but Werth gunned down Baldelli at the plate to avoid further damage. A fourth-inning safety squeeze by Jason Bartlett delivered the fourth run.
Still, given a first-inning lead identical to the one handed to Hamels in Game 1, Shields spent the evening exploiting Philadelphia's deficiency with runners in scoring position, and turned in the series-evening performance the Rays needed.
In the eighth, Eric Bruntlett delivered the Phillies' first pinch-hit home run in their World Series history. In the ninth, Ruiz doubled and scored on an error, but phenom rookie lefty David Price recorded the final seven outs, throwing mostly 97-mph heat and 89-mph sliders.
After Ruiz doubled to start the ninth, Price appeared to graze Rollins' jersey with a pitch, but it was not called a hit batsman. Rollins eventually popped out.
"They hit him," Myers said. "It almost went inside his shirt."
Utley then struck out and Howard grounded to second, ending the game. With Howard up as the tying run, Price got him to ground to second for the final out.
Though the Phillies would prefer two wins at Tropicana Field, they'll take the split with the series shifting to what is expected to be cold and damp Citizens Bank Park.
With 45,000-plus expected to brave the elements in Philadelphia, the players are expecting a crowd louder than cowbells.
"We want to go home," Myers said. "We've haven't had our home crowd with us. We clinched in Milwaukee and Los Angeles and they weren't there. It will be good to have them behind us and see the streets flooded with a bunch of red."
Added Howard: "They're going to be excited. Hopefully, they realize how big a part they're going to be. We look forward to getting on our turf and giving them a taste of our fans."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.