A-Rod's blast sparked a big comeback as the Yankees rallied in support of Andy Pettitte, defeating the Phillies, 8-5, on Saturday to secure Game 3 of the World Series before a hostile crowd at Citizens Bank Park.
"I think it was a big hit," Rodriguez said. "I think it woke our offense up a little bit. It felt really good."
Nick Swisher and Hideki Matsui also homered for the Bombers, who overcame two homers from Jayson Werth and watched Pettitte earn his Major League-leading 17th postseason win, guiding his club directly into the driver's seat with a 2-1 World Series lead.
"We feel like we've got a real strong team," Pettitte said. "Obviously, losing that first game, we weren't happy with that. We were upset about it, but we feel real good about what we're doing and we felt good about coming in here."
With Rodriguez logging his first hit in a Fall Classic game, the Yankees waited out a sharp opening from last year's Series Most Valuable Player, Cole Hamels, who lost his flickering form the second time through the lineup.
TAKING THE LEAD
The strange bounce back onto the field -- and the shouting voices in the Yankees' tunnel -- spurred manager Joe Girardi out of the dugout in protest, and after a brief review, the play was overturned and home-plate umpire Brian Gorman waved Rodriguez home.
"It was a big hit for us because it really got us going," Girardi said of Rodriguez's long ball. "He has been so good for us in the playoffs. He's a big reason we're at this point."
It was also a historic one for Rodriguez, who also hit the first regular-season reviewed homer last Sept. 3 against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
"Well, it's only fitting, right?" Rodriguez said. "I'm just glad we got a good ruling. ... It's obviously nice to get it out of the way. It's like the first hit I got this year in the postseason against Minnesota. That got me going a little bit."
New York tied the game in the fifth inning, as Pettitte connected on Hamels' first-pitch curveball with a run-scoring single to center -- the first World Series RBI by a Yankees pitcher since Jim Bouton in 1964 -- driving in Swisher, who had opened the frame with a double.
Masters of October
|1.||Andy Pettitte||17||243 1/3|
|3.||Tom Glavine||14||218 1/3|
|Curt Schilling||11||133 1/3|
|10.||Catfish Hunter||9||132 1/3|
Derek Jeter followed with a single that fell alongside a sliding Shane Victorino in center field, and Johnny Damon gave New York the lead for good with a two-run double up the gap in right-center field, sending Jeter home behind the jogging, jacketed Pettitte.
"I have no wheels at all -- I know that," Pettitte said. "I am very slow. I mean, very slow. The first thing Derek said was, 'I almost caught you.'"
Seven of the final 11 batters Hamels faced reached base, and the hurler was booed while exiting the playing field after 4 1/3 innings. It was quite a contrast from last Oct. 31, when Hamels was riding a parade float to celebrate the Phillies' World Series championship.
"We made him throw strikes, and when you do that with our ballclub, you're capable of doing some good things," Damon said. "He still pitched well, but our bats woke up a bit."
Swisher added more insurance in the sixth, connecting off J.A. Happ for his first World Series home run, rounding the bases slowly -- sweet vindication after he was benched in Game 2, at which point he was just 4-for-35 this postseason.
"I don't really read the paper," Swisher said. "I'm more a guy that looks at the pictures. But all of the struggles kept piling on, and the harder I would try to work, the harder I would try when I got into the box. To get by that and have a great game like tonight was extremely gratifying."
Jorge Posada blooped a run-scoring single off Chad Durbin in the seventh, and Matsui clubbed a pinch-hit solo blast off Brett Myers in the eighth that clocked in six minutes after midnight ET for a November home run.
"The longer I can play baseball," Matsui said, "I'm just happy about that."
Coming up clutch
|Year||Opp.||Gm 3 res.||Series res.|
|2009||PHI||W on road||????|
|2003||FLA||W on road||L in 6|
|1977||LA||W on road||W in 6|
|1964||STL||W at home||L in 7|
|1962||SF||W at home||W in 7|
|1961||CIN||W on road||W in 5|
|1960||PIT||W at home||L in 7|
|1957||MIL||W on road||L in 7|
|1952||BRO||L at home||W in 7|
|1951||NYG||L on road||W in 6|
|1949||BRO||W on road||W in 5|
|1943||STL||W at home||W in 5|
|1942||STL||L at home||L in 5|
|1941||BRO||W on road||W in 5|
|1936||NYG||W at home||W in 6|
|1926||STL||L on road||L in 7|
|1923||NYG||L at home||W in 6|
One bright spot for Philadelphia was Werth, whose second homer -- his seventh this postseason -- was a tape-measure shot to left off Pettitte that stirred the New York bullpen into action. Pettitte had permitted just two home runs in 66 World Series innings entering Saturday's game.
"It was a battle tonight -- I wasn't able to get ahead," Pettitte said. "I wasn't able to get my breaking ball over. I was able to get some outs when I needed to get some, but it was a grind tonight for me."
Taking the mound after an 80-minute rain delay, Pettitte had his biggest issues early, when he didn't feel "quite as locked in." Struggling to command his pitches and falling behind, the left-hander opened the second inning by surrendering Werth's golf-shot homer.
Pettitte forced in a run by walking Jimmy Rollins on five pitches -- after not allowing a bases-loaded walk all season -- and Victorino connected with a sacrifice fly to left field. Pitching coach Dave Eiland told Pettitte he was dragging his arm, but the veteran would have to figure it out on his own.
"You're out there and you're by yourself," Pettitte said. "There's not a whole lot of anything that can help you except just trying to just keep battling and keep trying to get it there and keep trying to get it there, and hopefully, it'll come around."
The Phillies let Pettitte -- working in his eighth World Series -- off the hook as the lefty settled in, leaning on his experience to give New York six innings of four-run, five-hit ball while improving to 4-4 lifetime in the Fall Classic.
"He uses your aggressiveness against you, and you cannot swing at those pitches and have a chance," said Rollins. "He always seems to be good enough to keep his team in it. When he gets some runs, he knows what to do with them."
Following Pettitte's seven-strikeout effort, Joba Chamberlain set down the Phillies in the seventh inning and Damaso Marte hurled the eighth, getting the ball to Phil Hughes -- who allowed a Carlos Ruiz homer -- and then Mariano Rivera in a non-save situation.
Game 4 is Sunday, when the Yankees will put the ball in the left hand of ace CC Sabathia, who will pitch on three days' rest as New York tries to move Joe Blanton and Philadelphia one loss from elimination.
"We feel good about being up, 2-1," Pettitte said. "But we know there's a lot of work left to do."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.