As the Phillies kept their season alive with their 8-6, Game 5 win over the Yankees on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park, they watched Ryan Madson wiggle out of the ninth-inning trouble that Brad Lidge wasn't able to avoid 24 hours earlier.
But this might have been partly because Chase Utley and the other members of the Phillies' potent lineup had provided Madson the comfort to enter this save opportunity with a three-run lead.
"The offense was great today," Madson said. "They came in and said, 'You're not going to push us around and we're going to score some runs.' That's the way it's been this whole playoffs and this whole year. Last year, it was a pitchers' year and this year, it has definitely been a hitters' year. The hitters are definitely carrying us as far as we can go."
Had the Phillies not taken advantage of a struggling A.J. Burnett pitching on short rest, there would have been nowhere for them to go other than to their offseason destinations.
But while chasing Burnett before he could record his first out of the third inning, they built a comfortable lead for Cliff Lee and put themselves in position to send this Series back to New York, where they will attempt to win two more games and become the first National League team since the 1976 Reds to win a second consecutive World Series title.
Carry a big stick
"The key was to get to [Burnett] early because as the game goes on, he gets better and better," said Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino, who was hit with a pitch before Utley erased a one-run deficit with his three-run, first-inning homer.
Utley added a leadoff homer in the two-run seventh that proved to be record-setting. With five homers in the first five games against the Yankees, he has joined Reggie Jackson as the only players to compile this total in one World Series.
In addition, the All-Star second baseman joined Kansas City's Willie Aikens as the only players to ever register two multi-homer performances in the same World Series. Aikens did it against the Phillies in 1980.
With 12 of the 24 runs they've scored in this Series coming courtesy of home runs, the Phillies have continued their regular-season trend. But at the same time, they were able to build Monday night's six-run, eighth-inning advantage without solely using the long ball.
Leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins set the tone when he fouled off three straight pitches before ending a six-pitch at-bat with his first-inning single. Two innings later, Utley and Ryan Howard drew consecutive walks and set the stage for Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez to chase Burnett with consecutive RBI singles.
"We got guys on and got the hits when we needed to," Howard said.
The homers that Utley and Ibanez hit in the seventh inning proved large when the Yankees tallied three runs while chasing Lee in the eighth and then added another run before Madson righted himself in the ninth inning.
With the victory, the Phillies kept their hopes alive and provided the offensive outburst that turned the tables and made Yankees manager Joe Girardi take the role of being the one second-guessed for sending Burnett to the mound on short rest.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has been second-guessed because of his decision not to send Lee to the mound on short rest during Sunday's Game 4.
"I don't know if A.J. struggled because he had three days' rest," Victorino said. "All I know is that we got the 'W.'"
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less