x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Phillies win World Series opener

The visiting Philadelphia Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 in the opening game of the best-of-seven World Series last night.

The Tampa Bay Rays batter Carl Crawford, left, hits a solo home run in the fourth inning off the Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels in Game 1.
The Tampa Bay Rays batter Carl Crawford, left, hits a solo home run in the fourth inning off the Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels in Game 1.

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA // The visiting Philadelphia Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 in the opening game of the best-of-seven World Series last night. The left-hander Cole Hamels pitched seven innings for the victory and Chase Utley hit a two-run homer in the first as the Phillies spoiled the Rays' first appearance in the Fall Classic. The Phillies are seeking their second World Series crown in 125 years as a franchise after their triumph in 1980, while the Rays ? who beat the 2007 champions Boston Red Sox for the AL title ? are in the postseason for the first time in their 11-year existence.

The Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir took the loss in a taut pitcher's duel played out before a crowd of 40,783 at Tropicana Field. "They beat us with the first home run in the first inning," said the Rays manager Joe Maddon in a salute to Hamels, who mixed his curveball and deceptive change-up with a pinpoint fastball. "He was very impressive tonight." The Phillies manager Charlie Manuel also tipped his hat to Hamels.

"I'm glad he pitches for us," he added. Utley's towering homer, which came after a failed bunt, was the perfect way to take the noisy home crowd out of the game, said Manuel. "I can't think of any other way to quiet them down," Manuel said about the cowbell-clanging Rays fans. "That's how you do it. If you want to take the wind out of the sails, you shut the cowbells up and get some home runs. That will do it."

Philadelphia, the National League champions, extended their lead to 3-0 on a run-scoring ground-out by the catcher Carlos Ruiz in the fourth inning that brought home Shane Victorino. The Rays rallied with a solo home run by Carl Crawford in the fourth and a run-scoring double in the next inning by Akinori Iwamura, his third hit of the game. Tampa Bay, however, could not muster another run against Hamels and the formidable Phillies bullpen.

Hamels, who has won all four of his post-season starts, yielded five hits and two runs, striking out five batters. Ryan Madson pitched a one-two-three eighth and Brad Lidge notched his 47th save in 47 opportunities, his sixth this postseason. Philadelphia relievers have allowed just two earned runs in their last 21-2/3 innings of work in the playoffs. After some early threats, in which hard-hitting BJ Upton got stuck into two double plays, the Tampa Bay batters went without a hit over the last four innings.

"We scored three runs and that was enough tonight," Manuel said. "Hamels was able to hold onto the lead and our bullpen also did a good job when they came in." The Rays will start James Shields against the Phillies' Brett Myers in Game Two at Tropicana Field tonight before the series shifts to Philadelphia this weekend. *Reuters