Utley provides Phillies with an early ray of light

THE Philadelphia Phillies got off to a good start in the World Series, beating Tampa 3-2 in the opening game of seven.

The visiting Phillies had Chase Utley to thank for a two-run homer in the first inning which silenced the home crowd in the first game of the 104th World Series.

Cole Hamel then pitched seven innings, striking out five batters.

“Cole did a wonderful job,” Utley said.

“Our goal was to try and score some runs early (and) try to take the crowd out of it.”

His fellow pitcher, Phillies closer Brad Lidge also paid tribute to Hamel: “The poise he has for his age is incredible.

“I don’t know what makes Cole tick exactly, but he has that factor where the situation doesn’t rattle him, and it’s like he’s just playing catch.”

The second game was also played in Tampa overnight.

As Phillies closer Brad Lidge warmed up before the bottom of the ninth, the scoreboard showed a montage of film clips to get the fans going, and it ended with a snippet of Sylvester Stallone in a sweat suit, thrusting his arms to the sky in the classic scene at the top of the art museum steps in Philadelphia from the movie Rocky.

If the Phillies needed another positive omen — as if surviving 13 hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position were not enough — there it was. Lidge retired the side in order to end the game.

He posted a three-out save in front of the sold-out crowd of 41,000 at Tropicana Field, and his performance means his perfect save record survives intact this year.

With the win, Hamels surpasses Steve Carlton for the most wins in Phillies franchise history in a single post-season.

He is also the first pitcher to win four games in a single post-season since Josh Beckett in 2007.

“He has a tremendous feel for the pitch,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “Anytime Cole pitches, I feel like we are going to win.”

Following the win, the Phillies hoped to wrap up the first leg of the best-of-seven series with another win late last night.

After that game at Tropicana Field, the two clubs will move to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Saturday.

The pitching matchup for Game 2 had Brett Myers getting the start for the Phillies against Tampa Bay’s James Shields.

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