NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Philadelphia Phillies won the opening game of the World Series 6-1 over the host New York Yankees on Wednesday behind the masterful pitching of Cliff Lee and two home runs by Chase Utley.
Lee baffled the Yankees with an assortment of fastballs, change-ups and breaking balls, limiting them to six hits, striking out 10 without a walk and inducing a string of weak swings and easy outs.
“To me he sets the tone by his rhythm, getting the ball back, and he knows what he’s going to do and he knows what he’s going to throw,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
“I like the way he pitches. I like everything about how he goes about it.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi gave Lee all the credit.
“He was great tonight,” said Girardi of Lee, who came to the Phillies in a midseason trade with the Cleveland Indians, with whom he won the AL Cy Young Award in 2008. “He kept us off balance.”
An unearned run in the ninth was the only blemish on Lee’s pitching line as he humbled the American League champions on a damp, drizzly night in New York, and erased their home field advantage in the series.
Lee also played superb defense, making a behind-the-back stab of Robinson Cano’s grounder up the middle, and nonchalantly making a basket catch off a pop fly from Johnny Damon.
Second baseman Utley gave Lee all the run support he needed.
Utley hit a high fly off Yankees starter CC Sabathia that just cleared the right-field fence for a homer with two outs in the third inning, and crushed an 0-2 fastball into the second deck of bleachers in right-center in the sixth.
Utley, who also walked in the game, has now reached base safely in each of his last 26 postseason games to surpass Baltimore’s Boog Powell for the consecutive streak record.
The Phillies, who won last year’s World Series, tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth off Yankees relievers.
Raul Ibanez singled two runs home in the eighth after the New York bullpen loaded the bases with walks. An RBI single by Shane Victorino followed by a run-scoring double by Ryan Howard accounted for the last two runs.
“Those runs that we got late definitely played a huge role in the game,” Manuel said. “Those are big runs. That’s what it takes.
“When you’ve got a small lead ... with the kind of lineup they’ve got, that’s how you play the game.”
Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who collected three of the team’s six hits, said there was no need to panic.
“We’ve just got to win a game, it’s nothing more complicated than that,” the shortstop said.
Game Two of the best-of-seven series will be in New York on Thursday with the Phillies starting Pedro Martinez against A.J. Burnett of the Yankees.
Editing by Peter Rutherford
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