Phillies shut down Upton, Longoria

October 22, 2008 10:41:01 PM PDT
A sizzling duo in the first two rounds of the playoffs, B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria fizzled in the opening game of the World Series. The emerging stars, instrumental in the young Rays winning the AL pennant in their first-ever postseason appearance, went hitless Wednesday night in Tampa Bay's 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

"They're great hitters and they have a lot of power. It's everything you can do to just make sure you keep those guys off balance," Phillies closer Brad Lidge said. "That's what you're trying to do when you pitch. Keep hitters off balance."

In defense of Upton and Longoria, most of the Rays struggled.

But after driving in 26 runs against the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox on the way to baseball's biggest stage, they have created expectations normally reserved for more experienced players.

"It doesn't matter how much video you watch or whether you're facing a No. 1 starter or a September call-up or, if a guy is hitting the corners and getting the ball where he wants, it's going to be difficult to hit," Longoria said.

Cowbell-clanging fans rose to their feet in anticipation every time one of them strolled to the plate. Each time they settled back into their seats a little more deflated as the Rays were unable to overcome the early 3-0 lead Philadelphia took against left-hander Scott Kazmir.

Kazmir settled down to pitch six solid innings and keep Tampa Bay in the game, but the offense couldn't bail him out.

Upton has had an extremely hot bat in the playoffs after struggling at the plate much of the year, in part because of an injured shoulder. He has 15 postseason RBIs, four shy of the major league record set by David Ortiz in 2004.

He and Longoria have combined to hit 13 of Tampa Bay's 23 home runs this postseason, however they were a combined 0-for-6 against Phillies starter Cole Hamels and fared no better against relievers Ryan Madson and Lidge.

"I don't feel we were trying too hard," Longoria said of Upton and himself. "Good pitching is going to beat good hitting every time. That's all there is to it."

Upton, whose seven homers tied Troy Glaus for the most by an AL player in a single postseason, grounded into two double plays, once with the bases loaded. Longoria's six postseason homers are a record for a major league rookie, however he struck out twice and finished 0-for-4 after Lidge fanned him in the ninth.

Without the type of production they provided in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Rays sputtered.

"I wasn't pressing. Not at all. I missed some good pitches and some I'd like to have back," Upton said.

Leadoff man Akinori Iwamura had three of the Rays' five hits off Hamels, including an RBI double that trimmed Philadelphia's lead to 3-2 in the fifth inning. The rest of the lineup had two hits, one Carl Crawford's fourth-inning homer.

"I don't want to put any added pressure on myself or my teammates, but we have to come in the next game and bounce back," Longoria said. "We've been resilient all year, and it's time to show we can do it again."


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