PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies fans returned en masse to Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday for the historic conclusion of baseball's first-ever suspended World Series game, adding a breeze to the chilly October night by waving white towels and cheering without stop.
When Game 5 was over, Philadelphia's title-starved fans were rewarded for their devotion with a World Series championship. They roared when closer Brad Lidge recorded the final out of a 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay, a team whose own inspiring worst-to-first story ended with the Phillies gathered in a dogpile in front of the mound.
"I never felt better in my life to get pummeled like that," said Lidge, who embraced Carlos Ruiz as others swarmed him. "[Ryan] Howard gave me a good shakedown. This is what you dream about. For the past two days, I wasn't letting myself think about what could be."
This is what could be.
The Phillies delivered the long-awaited goods by knocking back the Rays and more than a quarter-century of history on a 44-degree night. On a night when play began in the bottom of the sixth inning, they completed a five-game triumph to earn the franchise's second World Series championship in its 125-year history. The achievement triggered a baseball celebration not seen since Oct. 21, 1980, when Tug McGraw fanned Kansas City's Willie Wilson and leaped into Mike Schmidt's arms.
Twenty-eight years and eight days later, Lidge struck out Eric Hinske and the dogpile ensued, a group hug extending all the way up into the stands.
"I always thought we could win the World Series," manager Charlie Manuel said to the TV audience and the crowd just after the World Series trophy was awarded. "I knew we could beat anybody in our league. I look at what I see in our guys, I see chemistry and attitude and our makeup and how much we like to play and how much the Philadelphia fans back us, I know we can win the World Series.
"This is for Philadelphia. This is for our fans. I look around here and who's the world champions? I thank you."
Later, quietly in his office, Manuel shared a moment with Dallas Green, the only other man to have managed the Phillies to a World Series championship.
"That is a tough chair to sit in," Green said, referring to the seat behind the manager's desk. "It's nice to have company. He earned this."
The Phillies earned this last victory, down to the final strike. Lidge allowed the tying run to reach second base with one out in the ninth, but he struck out Hinske and fell to his knees. Howard tackled from the first-base side. Chase Utley raised both arms and threw his glove to the dirt. Manuel hugged coaches in the dugout.
A PERFECT HOME RUN
Since the LCS began in 1969, nine teams have gone undefeated at home in the postseason.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins kissed his finger and raised it to the air. Shane Victorino and Eric Bruntlett raced in from the outfield.
"The most amazing dash of my life," Bruntlett said.
Many in that dogpile made the magic happen, from a 24-6 record in the final 30 games to a stirring run through October.
At the top of the list was Cole Hamels, the ace lefty who pitched the first part of this split Game 5 and won Game 1. Hamels was named the Series MVP, joining Willie Stargell (1979), Darrell Porter (1982), Orel Hershiser (1988), Livan Hernandez (1997) as the only players win a League Championship Series MVP and a World Series MVP the same year.
The Phillies would need other heroes to win Game 5, once Hamels passed off the game to his teammates Wednesday. And several came through.
Geoff Jenkins secured his World Series moment when he led off the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff double to deep right-center -- his first postseason hit. He went to third on a sacrifice and celebrated his way to home plate after Akinori Iwamura couldn't field a Jayson Werth popup behind second.
"You dream about getting that one big hit to help the team win," said Jenkins, who was told 10 minutes before that he would be hitting. "Tonight was that night for me."
That lead was short-lived, as Rocco Baldelli muscled a game-tying homer off Ryan Madson over the left-field flower bed in the seventh. Jason Bartlett singled and was sacrificed to second by J.P. Howell, setting up a brilliant defensive play by second baseman Chase Utley.
With Bartlett racing around third on an up-the-middle roller, Utley faked a throw the first -- knowing he had no shot of getting Iwamura -- then threw home to get Bartlett at the plate.
In the seventh, Pat Burrell picked the ideal time for his first World Series hit, pounding a double off the wall in left-center. Bruntlett, the pinch-runner, went to third on a groundout and scored what would be the winning run of a championship season on Pedro Feliz's tiebreaking single.
J.C. Romero got the win, recording four outs, while Lidge sealed Philadelphia's first major championship for any pro sports teams since the 76ers won the 1983 NBA title.
Home sweep home
The Phillies became just the fifth team in World Series history to clinch the Series by winning three games at home after a 1-1 start:
"There's good teams and there's determined teams, and a determined team makes a good team," Brett Myers said. "We were determined and set out to do what we needed to accomplish. This is the time to party. All those other champagne spraying times were fun, but this is the real one. I'm trying to soak everything in."
Jamie Moyer, the native son who attended the victory parade for that 1980 triumph, now will ride on a float for the first time in his 22-year career on Friday. So will 40-year-old Matt Stairs and organizational pillars Rollins, Howard, Utley and Burrell.
For these Phillies, the victory carves out an identity of their own. Veterans Stadium, home to the 1980 Phillies and the '93 team that last went to he Series, went down after the 2003 season. It now serves as the parking lot for the new place, and J-Roll, Ut, Howie, the Flyin' Hawaiian, Chooch, J-Dub, Hollywood, Mad Dog and Lidger have christened the building their own.
They believe this is just the beginning.
"We want to be the new Braves and Yankees, and go to the playoffs every year for centuries," Hamels said. "We don't have to live in anyone's shadow. We're our own team. I have a memory with every one of these guys for as long as I'll live."
"We're winners," added Howard. "Rejoice. Nobody can take that away from the city of Philadelphia."
The fans have been the constant. As the World Series trophy was hoisted by GM Pat Gillick nearby, Phillies president and CEO David Montgomery told the crowd: "To our consummate Philadelphia fans, we're so proud that we are the Philadelphia Phillies and our first name is Philadelphia. We represent our city."
The Phillies went undefeated at home in the postseason, the first team to achieve that feat since the 1999 Yankees. The players know how much that meant to the loyal base.
"Everyone who feels like they won something, too, and that's a great feeling," Jenkins said. "It's an amazing feeling."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.