Joba squanders late lead, winds up a winner anyway
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Joba Chamberlain blew the lead and wound up a winner anyway.
Called on in the eighth inning to protect a one-run advantage for the New York Yankees, the right-hander came in throwing hard Sunday night against Philadelphia.
He whipped letter-high fastballs past Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez for consecutive strikeouts, and was on the verge of handing a 4-3 cushion to star closer Mariano Rivera.
Not so fast.
With a full count, Pedro Feliz turned on a 97 mph fastball and sent it rocketing way over the left-field fence for a home run that pulled the Phillies even at 4. It also sent the crowd of 46,145 into a frenzy.
“I threw him two fastballs that he swung through. In that situation, you don’t want to put the winning run on base,” Chamberlain said. “I made two good pitches before. I wanted to challenge him and he put a good swing on it.”
The 24-year-old Chamberlain bounced back, though, striking out Carlos Ruiz to end the inning. When the Yankees scored three times in the ninth off Brad Lidge for a 7-4 victory that gave them a 3-1 lead in the World Series, Chamberlain was credited with his first career postseason win.
An inconsistent starter all season, Chamberlain is back in the bullpen this October. That’s where he became a star as a rookie setup man two years ago.
In his first World Series appearance, Chamberlain had a spotless outing during Game 3. Facing the top of Philadelphia’s dangerous lineup, he retired the side in order in the seventh inning to help preserve a win for Andy Pettitte.
SAFE AT HOME: Ryan Howard scored the tying run, even if he didn’t touch the plate.
Stuck in a strikeout slump, Howard led off the fourth inning of Game 4 with a single and surprised the Yankees with his first career postseason stolen base.
After two outs, Pedro Feliz singled to left and Howard came charging around third, ready to slide home. New York catcher Jorge Posada couldn’t hold onto Johnny Damon’s throw as the 250-pound Howard hurled his body over the plate to make it 2-all. The ball was jarred loose from Posada’s glove and rolled toward the dugout, allowing Feliz to advance to second.
Plate umpire Mike Everitt called the Phillies slugger safe and the Yankees didn’t argue.
Replays appeared to show Howard never touched the plate.
Howard struck out in his first at-bat on an 80 mph slider against CC Sabathia for his 10th whiff of the World Series. He’s two shy of matching Kansas City’s Willie Wilson for the record of 12 set in 1980 when the Phillies beat the Royals.
Howard’s single in the fourth snapped an 0 for 9 skid that included eight strikeouts. He has struck out 18 times in the postseason.
“What I’ve seen of Ryan, they’re pitching him tough, and they’re throwing him sliders, especially left-handed pitchers, they’re throwing him sliders and they’re on the outside part of the plate,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
BACK FOR MORE: Derek Jeter is stockpiling awards named after Hall of Famers.
The Yankees shortstop and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals won the Hank Aaron Awards in fan voting for the best hitter in each league. Aaron presented Jeter with the trophy before New York played Philadelphia in Game 4. Jeter also won in 2006, when Phillies slugger Ryan Howard was honored from the NL.
“Any award that’s named after Hank Aaron to me is very special, what he has represented, not only in his playing days but how he handled himself when he was playing off the field and to this day,” Jeter said. “I have the utmost respect for him. This is an award that means a lot to me.”
Pujols wasn’t in attendance because he’s recovering from elbow surgery.
The 35-year-old Jeter, a career .317 hitter, hit .334 with 18 homers, 66 RBIs and 30 steals to lead the Yankees back to the World Series for the first time in six years. In September, he broke Lou Gehrig’s club record for hits.
On Thursday, Jeter was presented the Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to a major league player who combines community service with excellence on the field.
Pujols hit .327 with a major league-leading 47 homers, 135 RBIs and 124 runs. His Cardinals won the NL Central, but were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the division series.
BROAD STREET VS. BROADWAY: The Yankees’ victory in Game 4 gave their city a split in the Philadelphia-New York doubleheader on Sunday.
Earlier, the Eagles routed the Giants 40-17 at Lincoln Financial Field, across the street from where the World Series is being played. The sports complex was a sea of red and green. Fans wore Eagles jerseys with Phillies hats or vice versa.
By the fourth quarter, the crowd at the Linc was chanting: “Let’s Go Phillies!”
Even the NBA teams in the two cities joined in the rivalry this weekend, with the 76ers beating the Knicks in overtime on Saturday night.
PHILLIES FLU BUG: Chan Ho Park’s status coming into Game 4 was uncertain because he had the flu, but Park relieved Phillies starter Joe Blanton in the seventh inning. Park worked one inning and did not allow a hit, striking out one and walking one.
Backup third baseman and pinch-hitting specialist Greg Dobbs was sent home before Game 2 in New York because he had the flu. Dobbs returned to the team Saturday. Pedro Martinez felt under the weather before starting Game 2. It hardly affected his performance, as Martinez allowed three runs in six-plus innings.