PHILADELPHIA -- Cole Hamels watched his world collapse quickly Saturday in Game 3 of the World Series.
He has experienced those collapses before.
"That's been the story of my whole season," he said late Saturday night following an 8-5 loss to the Yankees at Citizens Bank Park. "I can cruise through hitters and then all of a sudden -- boom. I don't hit a small speed bump. I hit a big one."
The big one helped the Yankees take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Phillies have not trailed in a postseason series since the Rockies swept them in the 2007 National League Division Series. They must win Game 4 on Sunday (8:20 p.m. ET, FOX) or find themselves in a situation to win three consecutive games to claim their second straight World Series title.
The Phillies said they aren't panicking.
"There's no quit. There's no fear. There's no panic button," Jimmy Rollins said. "We just have to find a way to win, and we know that. When you have that going for yourself, you never give up on yourself, no matter what it looks like. And then has helped us through many games through five-, six-game losing streaks. We'll have to find a way to get that win [Sunday]."
They could have used one Saturday to take a little pressure off Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton, who will start Game 4 against Yankees ace CC Sabathia.
Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel had high hopes for Hamels, who seems to have lost his way. He went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five postseason starts in 2008. He was the World Series MVP. He was the undisputed ace.
After losing to the Yanks in Game 3, the Phillies are in a 2-1 hole in the World Series. How teams have fared in postseason play after falling behind 2-1 in a series:
But Hamels is 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA in four postseason starts in 2009. He is a question mark moving forward, considering he lines up to pitch a potential Game 7 at Yankee Stadium.
"I wouldn't be hesitant to start him," Manuel said of Game 7. "But at the same time, we'll see how the series goes."
"I really do hope I have that opportunity," Hamels said. "It's one of those games that you can definitely redeem yourself. I would know it's the very last game that I would ever have that season. It's not the type of game you want to have in your last game. It's just kind of something where if you could end it on a good note, why not? Having a Game 7 opportunity that would be mean a lot. I hope my teammates believe in me and want me to be out there for it."
Hamels retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced when he walked Mark Teixeira with one out in the fourth. It looked like Teixeira should have been called out on strikes. Hamels agreed.
"It was a strike," he said. "It's the story of my season."
Hamels said the walk did not affect him in his next at-bat against Alex Rodriguez, who hit a fly ball to right field that at first glance appeared to hit off the top of the wall for a double to put runners on second and third.
Most home runs in one postseason
Yankees manager Joe Girardi argued that the ball landed over the fence, hit a fan and bounced back onto the field. The umpire crew decided to use instant replay -- the first time a home run had been reviewed in World Series history -- to look at the play. Girardi was mostly right. The ball hit a TV camera and bounced back onto the field.
"Because we cannot control what the cameraman does with the camera, one of the specific ground rules is when the ball hits the camera -- home run," crew chief Gerry Davis said.
The Phillies, who had scored three runs in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead, suddenly found themselves with just a one-run lead.
"I really thought it was a popup," Hamels said. "I really thought it was an out. For it to go over the fence ... you know what? This is the park I play in, so I definitely know to expect this."
Hamels finished the inning without incident, but his big speed bump came in the fifth. In a five-pitch at-bat to Nick Swisher, who was hitting .114 (4-for-35) in the postseason entering Game 3, Hamels threw three curveballs. Swisher hit the last one into the left-field corner for a leadoff double.
Hamels struck out Melky Cabrera for the first out, but Andy Pettitte hit a first-pitch curveball to center field for a base hit to score Swisher to tie the game. Derek Jeter singled and Johnny Damon ripped a double to right-center field to score Pettitte and Jeter to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead.
Hamels, who looked dominant early, looked lost in a matter of a few pitches.
Hamels walked Mark Teixeira to put runners on first and second, which sealed his fate. Manuel walked to the mound to replace him with J.A. Happ.
Hamels heard some boos as he walked off the field.
Flying out in Philly
Most combined home runs in one World Series game
A's (5), Giants (2)
Yankees (3), Phillies (3)
Phillies (4), Rays (2)
Giants (4), Angels (2)
Red Sox (3), Reds (3)
Yankees (4), Dodgers (2)
Yankees (4), Cubs (2)
* -- at Citizens Bank Park
"I would never question his mental toughness," Manuel said. "I think at times, he gets a little upset with himself, but as far as his mental toughness, this guy, he's mentally tough. He's definitely mentally tough."
Hamels might have been suffering from the illness that has been making its way through the Phillies' clubhouse, although he said he would not make that an excuse, so it's unclear how much it might have affected him.
The Phillies appeared on their way to knocking out Pettitte early.
Jayson Werth hit a 3-2 slider into the left-field stands for a solo home run in the second inning to give the Phils a 1-0 lead. Pedro Feliz hit a one-out double off the right-field wall. Carlos Ruiz turned a 3-0 count into a five-pitch walk to put runners on first and second.
Hamels placed a beautiful bunt in between the mound and the third-base line. Pettitte and Yankees catcher Jorge Posada had no play as the Phillies loaded the bases. Pettitte then walked Rollins on five pitches to score Feliz to give the Phils a 2-0 lead. It was a scene reminiscent of Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS when Sabathia, then with Milwaukee, appeared to become unglued after Brett Myers worked a walk and walked Rollins to load the bases.
Shane Victorino followed with a grand slam against Sabathia.
Victorino did not get the big hit this time, but he hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Ruiz to give Philadelphia a 3-0 lead. Chase Utley struck out swinging with runners on first and second to end the inning.
It looked like they might have more opportunities against Pettitte, but they wouldn't as Pettitte retired 14 of the final 17 batters he faced.
"Andy probably didn't have his best stuff tonight," Rodriguez said. "He just did a great job of working in and out of trouble, limiting trouble. And he swung the bat really well, too."
Werth hit a towering solo home run to left field in the sixth inning to cut the Yankees lead to 6-4, but the Phillies would get no closer.
They need to get closer Sunday. They need to even the series, and they need to do it against Sabathia.
"Big C?" Rollins said. "He's a man. He throws the ball. We find ways to hit it and score runs. He isn't God by any means. So I don't need to fear him."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.