PHILADELPHIA// Alex Rodriguez ended his World Series slump in a big way on Saturday to lead the New York Yankees to an 8-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies and give them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven World Series. The third baseman belted a controversial two-run homer and reached base four times after going hitless in eight at-bats over the first two games. Rodriguez said he was successful on Saturday because did not chase balls out of the strike zone.
"It's obviously nice to get it out of the way," Rodriguez said of the first World Series hit of his career. "It's like the first hit I got this year in the post-season against Minnesota. That got me going a little bit. "Overall, the game plan is simple: swing at strikes. If I swing at strikes I can do a lot better." New York were trailing 3-0 in the fourth inning when Rodriguez launched his two-run homer. The hit was initially ruled a double when the ball bounced back into play, but replays showed it had struck a television camera in the right-field stands and the umpires decided it was a home run.
It was the first time a replay had been used to determine a call in a World Series game. "I wasn't 100 per cent sure but our coaches started yelling they thought it hit the camera," said the Yankees manager, Joe Girardi. "My eyes aren't great so it was hard for me to see." The two-run shot ignited the Yankee offence, which had been held hitless up to that point on a rainy night in Philadelphia. "It was a big hit," said Rodriguez, who also walked and was twice hit by pitches. "It woke our offence a little bit. It felt really good."
Nick Swisher and the pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui also homered for the Yankees. The Philadelphia manager, Charlie Manuel, said it was time for his defending World Series champions to rise to raise their game. "If we're going to get going, it's time for us to do it," he said. Philadelphia's powerful line-up has not clicked in the series. Their lead-off hitter, Jimmy Rollins, is batting .200 in the first three games, Shane Victorino, second in the order, is at .182 and the slugger Ryan Howard, who hit two homers and drove in 15 runs in the first two play-off series, went 0-for-4 on Saturday to drop his World Series average to .154.
"We're definitely capable of putting runs on the board," said Manuel. "It's just a matter of time that we do." * Reuters Visit www.thenational.ae for a report on Game Four. TV, Game Five, 3:57am Tuesday, ESPN America.