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Alex Rodriguez is hit by pitch, then puts hurt on Phillies

Slugger gets plunked again and later responds with a key run-scoring double.

November 02, 2009|Kevin Baxter

PHILADELPHIA — You can tug on Superman's cape. Even spit into the wind.

But hitting Alex Rodriguez with a baseball? That's probably not such a good idea. Because he'll make you pay.

Just ask the Philadelphia Phillies. They tried to intimidate Rodriguez by plunking him three times in two days only to watch him hit back Sunday with a tiebreaking double, sparking the New York Yankees to a 7-4 victory that moved them to within a win of their first World Series title since 2000.

"There's no question I have never had a bigger hit," Rodriguez said.

And it might never have happened had the Phillies just kept their baseballs to themselves. Rodriguez stumbled through the first two games of the World Series, striking out six times in eight at-bats. Then the Phillies hit him three times in his next six trips to the plate and, well, let's just say that was a big mistake.

"That kind of woke me up a little bit and just reminded me 'Hey, this is the World Series. Let's get it going a little bit,' " Rodriguez said.

And he did, first belting a two-run home run Saturday for his first World Series hit then collecting his first game-winning hit in a World Series game on Sunday.

But while he's clearly carrying a big stick, Rodriguez is also speaking softly. After all, no use waking up the opposition.

"I don't want to comment about being hit," he said in Spanish.

Manager Joe Girardi has no such problem. Not after seeing Rodriguez get hit three times and Mark Teixeira, who bats ahead of Rodriguez, get nailed twice.

"And we don't necessarily like that because we need those guys," Girardi said. "I don't necessarily think it's intentional. It's pretty hard to hit people intentionally when there's runners in scoring position."

Yankees pitchers have yet to hit a batter in the Series.

Sunday marked only the second time a World Series extended into November and the game started in a mid-autumn chill in which temperatures dipped into the 40s. But the Yankees heated up quickly, scoring twice in an eventful first inning that included warnings to both benches after Rodriguez was hit in the back with the first pitch he saw.

The Phillies, facing CC Sabathia, who was pitching on three days of rest, got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning on consecutive doubles by Chase Utley and Shane Victorino then tied the score against Sabathia in the fourth.

Ryan Howard opened that inning with a single, ending a slide in which he struck out 10 times in 14 at-bats. He then stole second before scoring two outs later on Pedro Feliz's hit.

Run-scoring singles by Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon in the fifth put the Yankees back in front but the Phillies came back to tie the score again with two-out home runs by Utley in the seventh and Feliz in the eighth.

The homers were the sixth and seventh of the Series for Philadelphia but all seven have come with the bases empty.

The Phillies turned to closer Brad Lidge to protect the tie. But after Lidge got two quick outs, Damon battled him through a nine-pitch at-bat before blooping a single to left. Pitching for the first time in 11 days, Lidge then hit Teixeira before Rodriguez drove a one-strike pitch into the left-field corner to send the Yankees back in front.

Jorge Posada followed with a two-run single to left-center field but Mariano Rivera didn't need the extra runs, setting the Phillies down on eight pitches in the ninth for his 11th World Series save.

All of that means nothing if the Yankees don't win once more, however.

"We haven't accomplished anything yet," Damon said. "We've won three games. That's not what we set out to do. We would like the fourth."

Rodriguez agreed.

"It feels good," he said "but we have to stay focused. Those guys are the world champs. They're going to come out fighting and so are we. So I'm just staying in the moment."


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