PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Phillies ended their long wait for a World Series title with a short burst of baseball on Wednesday as they clinched the crown by completing a rain-suspended 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Philadelphia Phillies players pile together in celebration after their team defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to win Major League Baseball's World Series after Game 5 in Philadelphia, October 29, 2008.[Agencies]
The Phillies captured their first Fall Classic title since 1980 in a unique, three-inning finish as they resumed Game Five, suspended in the middle of the sixth on Monday with the score tied 2-2 when the field became unplayable after rain.
The victory gave the Phillies a 4-1 triumph in the best-of-seven series and ended a dream season for the Rays, who rebounded from the worst record in the majors last season.
"I always thought we could win the World Series," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after the game. "I knew we could beat anybody in our league.
"When I look at my guys, I see our chemistry and our attitude, our make-up and how much we like to play and how much the Philadelphia fans backed us. I knew we could win the World Series," he added as the crowd roared its approval.
Pedro Feliz drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh, and reliever Brad Lidge struck out pinch-hitter Eric Hinske for the final out in the ninth, setting off a wild celebration as fireworks exploded over Citizens Bank Park.
Philadelphia starting pitcher Cole Hamels, who won the opening game of the series, was named Most Valuable Player.
Despite the Rays' loss, players and coaches were consoled they helped the 11-year-old franchise reach the postseason for the first time.
"This has been a remarkable year for us on so many different levels to get to this point," said manager Joe Maddon.
"Very few people throughout the baseball world even guessed that we could get here. We made a powerful statement.
"All of this country now knows who we are."
After both teams scored in their first time at-bat once the game was re-started following a delay of exactly 46 hours, the Phillies took their decisive lead when Feliz singled through a drawn-in infield to cash in a lead-off double by Pat Burrell.
The Fall Classic finish came in bizarre fashion after the first suspended game in 104 World Series.
That game produced controversy over whether it should have started at all because of Monday's weather forecast, and whether it should have been halted earlier due to puddles on the infield.
There was nothing unusual with the way the Phillies finally claimed the championship, however, as Lidge completed a perfect season in closing games with 48 saves in 48 opportunities.
"Only because of the guys around me," Lidge said in explaining his sensational season. "The defence. The bullpen was ridiculous all year. They allowed me to do my thing."
Fans lingered on the field and in the stands for more than 90 minutes after the last out and are sure to pack Philadelphia's streets for the victory parade on Friday.
The triumph was especially sweet for Phillies' pitcher Jamie Moyer, 45, a Pennsylvania native who skipped school in 1980 to attend the last Phillies' title celebration as a fan.
"This is a dream come true," he said. "Being at the parade in '80 and now getting ready for another parade sometime later this week, it's all worth it.
"We battled together all season long. We've had our ups and downs like every club has. But here we are."