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Cliff Lee gets Phillies started in style

Left-hander goes the distance and Chase Utley hits two home runs to lead the way in Game 1 of the World Series.

October 29, 2009|Dave van Dyck

NEW YORK — Wednesday night marked the beginning of a 40th World Series for the New York Yankees, but the first played at the sprawling, sparkling new ballpark in the Bronx, next door to where it seems the Fall Classic was born and raised.

But ghosts of glory past stayed behind, even though Yogi Berra waddled out to deliver the ceremonial first pitch for Game 1 at new Yankee Stadium.

The christening was a disaster as Cliff Lee out-dueled CC Sabathia and the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies broke home-field advantage with a 6-1 victory.

"Winning Game 1 is huge," Lee said. "We wanted to get off to a good start. At worst, we can split in New York and really have home-field advantage. Now we have a chance to take both of them and go to Philly in a really good spot."

With the familiar bunting in place, a stadium record crowd of 50,207 sat impatiently through 50-degree weather and a heavy mist, which could be the case again for Game 2 tonight when the Yankees' A.J. Burnett faces Pedro Martinez.

But it would be hard for them to match the pitching performances of the former Cleveland Indians Cy Young Award winners and fast friends, as Lee breezed along with only an unearned ninth-inning run and Sabathia gave up only two Chase Utley home runs through seven innings.

While the Phillies' lineup clearly is close to that of the Yankees, the difference was Lee, as it has been all postseason. In four games, Lee, acquired from the Indians in midseason, is 3-0 with a 0.54 earned-run average.

"To be successful at this level you have to be comfortable," he said. "You have to think you can get everybody out. I try not to be cocky, but I definitely have confidence, there's no doubt about it.

"I've always been that way. It's the same game I've been playing all my life. This is the stage you wanted to get to from the time you were a little kid. I've already put all the work in, there's no sense in being nervous or worried."

Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel sure is happy to have him.

"When we got him, I knew he was good," Manuel said. "But if you want to know the truth, I didn't know he'd be as good as he has been."

Utley gave the Phillies their first two runs, the first a third-inning, two-out fly ball that parachuted past the short right-field wall that had been a fixture in the original House That Ruth Built.

He followed in the sixth inning with an even longer version of the first, deep into the stands behind right-center field. They were the first home runs Sabathia had given up to left-handers at Yankee Stadium all year and made the crowd quieter.

"The fans were pretty rowdy early in game," Utley said. "Later in the game, I noticed people left and it was a little bit quieter."

The Phillies even tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth inning against two relievers, with the runs batted in going to Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard.

Lee, who could pitch twice more in the World Series, obviously didn't need the runs.

"Lee has been tough on us this year but he can't pitch every day," Manager Joe Girardi said. "It's baseball, you're going to have a hard time scoring runs.

"Our guys will grind it out. I'm not worried about it."




Philadelphia vs. New York; Phillies lead best-of-seven series, 1-0

Game 1: Phillies 6, Yankees 1

Game 2: Today, 4:45 p.m.

Phillies (Martinez)

at Yankees (Burnett)

Game 3: Saturday, 4:45 p.m.

Phillies (Hamels)

at Yankees (Pettitte)

Game 4: Sunday, 5:15 p.m.

Yankees (TBA) at Phillies (TBA)

Game 5 *: Monday, 4:45 p.m.

Yankees (TBA) at Phillies (TBA)

Game 6 *: Wednesday, 4:45 p.m.

Phillies (TBA) at Yankees (TBA)

Game 7 *: Nov. 5, 4:45 p.m.

Phillies (TBA) at Yankees (TBA)

All games on Channel 11

All games PDT, * if necessary

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