PHILADELPHIA -- The Rays have been written off before, but the trail of teams left in the American League champions' wake should make it clear that they should not be counted out.
The cliche about playing one game at a time is now very true for Tampa Bay after a 10-2 loss to Philadelphia in Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday night at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies outplayed the Rays in front of a raucous crowd of 45,903 to seize a commanding 3-1 Series advantage heading into Game 5 on Monday night in Philadelphia.
"If I were a writer, where else would we want to be?" Carlos Pena said. "The story of the Rays, I think I would write it [the way it's happening]. So I still have hope and faith in my heart."
By taking a 3-1 advantage, the Phillies became the 43rd team in 104 World Series to take a 3-1 advantage. Of the previous 42, 36 times the team has gone on to win the World Series, with 23 of those closing out the Series in five games.
Tampa Bay has played in just one elimination game during the playoffs, which came in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series, when the Rays defeated the Red Sox to advance to the World Series. Pena said he believes Tampa Bay can use Boston's example as a template for how to fight back.
"You know what? We were swinging the bats incredibly well in Boston," Pena said. "We absolutely just came out and scored so many runs against the Red Sox in Boston, the most unlikely of things were happening. And then, that last game, we were ahead, 7-0, and they came back and won. And then they went to our house and beat us.
"All of a sudden, the Red Sox are right there, right where they want to be and just one win away from coming to the World Series. They couldn't do it. But right now, our attitude is, 'Why can't we be that team that actually does what the Red Sox couldn't do?' And you know to just keep that faith alive. That's the most important thing for all of us. We've still got that thing in our hearts that says it would be nice."
GAME 5: JUST THE FACTS
Citizens Bank Park, Monday, 8 p.m. ET
Rays starter: LHP Scott Kazmir
2008: 12-8, 3.49 ERA
2008 on road: 4-6, 4.10 ERA
2008 vs. Phillies: 0-1, 4.50 ERA
Career vs. Phillies: 1-1, 4.09 ERA (two starts)
2008 WS vs. Phillies: 0-1, 4.50 ERA
2008 postseason: 1-1, 4.15 ERA (four starts)
Career postseason: 1-1, 4.15 ERA (four starts)
Phillies starter: LHP Cole Hamels
2008: 14-10, 3.09 ERA
2008 at home: 7-7, 2.99 ERA
2008 vs. Rays: 1-0. 2.57 ERA
Career vs. Rays: 1-1, 5.91 ERA (two starts)
2008 WS vs. Rays: 1-0. 2.57 ERA
2008 postseason: 4-0, 1.55 ERA (four starts)
Career postseason: 4-1, 2.02 ERA (five starts)
Phillies lead series, 3-1. Teams that hold a 3-1 lead have won the Series 36 times and lost just six times. The last team to come back from 3-1 was the 1985 Royals over the Cardinals.
Did you know? The Phillies have a chance to become the first team since the 1999 Yankees to finish a postseason undefeated at home.
The Rays have shown an ability to come back throughout the season, and they put together 12 winning streaks of three or more games.
"I don't even like to talk about three in a row," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "The mantra has been one at a time. I want to approach it that way. That's how we've approached the whole season. It's about beating the guy tomorrow and getting back home. It's about tomorrow. I don't want us looking any further ahead than that."
The Phillies' offense got off to a quick start Sunday night as Jimmy Rollins doubled to lead off the first and moved to third on a flyout to right field. After Chase Utley walked, Ryan Howard hit a shot back to the box that Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine fielded cleanly before catching Rollins in a rundown between home and third. Sonnanstine threw to Evan Longoria at third, but the throw arrived late. Rollins attempted to avert the tag while sliding into third and was ruled safe on the play, although replays indicated otherwise.
"That just happened," Maddon said. "We did not play very well tonight overall. We did not pitch as well as we could. We're definitely not swinging the bats like we can. We made some mistakes on defense. I just can't point to one umpiring call and blame the entire event on that. We just didn't play well enough tonight."
After the Rollins play loaded the bases, Pat Burrell walked to put Philadelphia up, 1-0, but Sonnanstine managed to get the final two outs of the inning to avoid further damage.
Utley reached in the third when Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura booted his grounder. Howard followed with a single before Burrell and Shane Victorino each popped out, moving the Phillies to 2-for-39 with runners in scoring position in the Series. Pedro Feliz ended that trend with a single to left to drive home Utley for a 2-0 lead.
Carl Crawford got Tampa Bay on the scoreboard with a solo home run in the fifth inning to cut Philadelphia's lead to 2-1. It was Crawford's second home run of the World Series and only the second home run by the Rays after they hit 16 in the ALCS.
Howard completely erased talk about the Phillies' inability to hit with runners in scoring position when he launched a three-run homer into the left-field stands off Sonnanstine in the fourth that put Philadelphia up, 5-1.
The Rays weren't done quite yet. Eric Hinske, who was activated prior to Game 4 to take the place of injured Cliff Floyd, pinch-hit for Sonnanstine in the fifth and came through with a solo home run to center field that cut the Phillies' lead to 5-2.
The home run came in Hinske's first at-bat since Sept. 28, and was his second home run in his last 77 at-bats dating back to Aug. 18.
But Philadelphia's pitching continued to dominate Tampa Bay, particularly Pena and Longoria, who are a combined 0-for-29 in the World Series with 15 strikeouts.
"From my old hitting coach's days, I can just see what's happening," Maddon said. "I've been trying to relate to both of them exactly what the Phillies are trying to do to them. But you have to go up there in the batter's box yourself.
Off the Floor
The Rays will try to become the sixth team in seven-game World Series history to come back from a 3-1 deficit. The first five:
"I just think that both guys are just out of their game a little bit right now, quite frankly, in regards to their strike zone. If I preach anything to them, it is to not expand their strike zone, because more often than not, the Phillies are making certain pitches, and they've done a pretty good job. But if we stick to our game plan, we'll be able to counterpunch them. We know what's going on. We're just not reacting very well yet. But there is time."
Phillies starter Joe Blanton grabbed a piece of World Series history against Edwin Jackson with two outs in the fifth when he homered on a 2-1 pitch from the Rays right-hander to put Philadelphia up, 6-2. Blanton's home run was the first of his career and made him the 13th pitcher in World Series history to hit a home run. He was the first pitcher to do so since Ken Holtzman turned the trick in 1974 for the A's.
Jayson Werth added further insurance for the Phillies with a two-run homer in the eighth inning. Howard followed with his second home run of the night -- a two-run shot -- later in the frame.
"We definitely don't want to lose the Series like this," Crawford said. "We want to make it a better Series than what it would be if we were to lose tomorrow. So we're going to all come ready to play tomorrow.
"We haven't been playing our game. Timely hits haven't been there. The defense has been a little shaky. Pitching's been a little shaky. And everybody knows that's not the way we play. So we just have to get back to doing what we do well."
Longoria expressed similar sentiments.
"We have to really push to have a happy flight home tomorrow," he said. "I think I heard [Boston catcher Jason] Varitek say that when talking about their Game 5 at their place. Kind of the same thing, we don't want to fly home knowing we're going home for the winter. We want to go home knowing we've got two more games at The Trop."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.