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Phillies, Rays OK swingin' in the rain

The Baltimore Sun

PHILADELPHIA - Despite the torrential rain, the near-freezing temperatures and the schedule reshuffling that has occurred the past week here, the two men who have been most affected by this strange World Series don't want to see any major changes to the format.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon and Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel were asked before last night's continuation of Game 5 whether they would endorse playing the World Series at a neutral, warm-weather or domed site, similar to the NFL's Super Bowl. Both men said it's too important to the fans to move the World Series out of the participating cities.

"You want to know the truth, I'd rather have it home for the Phillies fans to get to see us play in Philadelphia," Manuel said. "I think from a World Series standpoint, I think it should stay in your city." Maddon, whose club plays in domed Tropicana Field and never has to worry about outside weather conditions, was even more emphatic. "I don't like that. I think each town should be rewarded," Maddon said.

It also would negate the importance of home-field advantage. The Rays, for instance, had the most home wins in baseball this year.

"I just think each ballpark is unique," Maddon said. "Look at our place. We would be at a great disadvantage playing in a neutral spot."

Major League Baseball isn't considering a switch to neutral venues, even when the World Series creeps further into November in 2009. But every few years, when nasty fall weather cancels a World Series game, the issue is batted around. And, after a suspension and postponement in the past two days, the inevitable was asked. "This is the way it is, man," Maddon said. "I don't like the cold weather. I grew up in it, but I am not digging it at all. [But] this is the way it is, so you've just got to do it."

Lidge finishes it off

Mr. Perfect got the biggest save of his career.

Just like he did all season, Brad Lidge nailed down Philadelphia's 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the completion of a suspended Game 5, securing the Phillies' second World Series title.

Lidge, 41-for-41 in save chances during the regular season, earned his seventh save in as many tries in the postseason by pitching out of trouble in the ninth.

He retired Evan Longoria on a pop-up leading off the inning, but Dioner Navarro singled. Pinch runner Fernando Perez stole second before Ben Zobrist lined out to right for the second out.

Lidge then struck out Eric Hinske swinging on a slider to end it. Lidge dropped to his knees and raised his arms in the air, screaming "We did it!"

It was fitting that Lidge got the last out. The Phillies wouldn't have gotten this far without the closer who was exiled from Houston - and the rest of their stellar bullpen. The bullpen led the National League in ERA (3.22) and winning percentage (.589) during the regular season, and was even better in the playoffs.

Before coming to Philadelphia, Lidge was best remembered for allowing that mammoth homer to St. Louis' Albert Pujols in the 2005 NL Championship Series.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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