Baseball: Lidge ends Phillies' long wait for World Series glory

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The Independent Online

Half a million fans are expected to jam the streets of downtown Philadelphia today in celebration of the Phillies' first World Series title since 1980, and the first major league championship in any sport by a city team in a quarter of a century.

"This is the best it could be," said Brad Lidge, Philadelphia's ace closer, after he had demolished the last Tampa Bay Rays hitter to complete a 4-3 win in Wednesday night's rain-delayed fifth game. It was his 48th save in a superb season, clinching a 4-1 Series victory for the Phillies.

In defeating the Rays, upstart winners of the American League pennant, the Phillies restored bragging rights to the National League, and exorcised the ignominy of being the first US pro sports franchise to have lost 10,000 games, a milestone they passed in 2007. They also prevailed over the toughest foe of all: the weather.

On Monday, Game Five was halted by a storm with the score at 2-2 midway through the sixth inning – the first such suspension in the 104-year history of the sport's showcase event.

Almost 46 hours later the game resumed, and the Phillies soon regained the lead. Rocco Baldelli hit back for the Rays, but, at the bottom of the seventh innings, third baseman Pedro Feliz drove in what would prove to be the winning run.

The Rays threatened in the eighth and ninth innings, before Lidge dispatched Eric Hinske with one of his trademark sliders to put the Phillies back on America's sporting map.