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October 31, 2009

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Yankees beat Phillies to even series

THE New York Yankees leveled the World Series at one game each as A J Burnett outdueled old Yankees nemesis Pedro Martinez in a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday.

Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui homered for the Yankees, who overcame a 0-1 second-inning deficit for the crucial victory as the best-of-seven series shifts to Philadelphia for the next three games starting tomorrow (Shanghai time).

The hard-throwing Burnett gave up four hits in seven innings and struck out nine while walking two.

"My key was strike one tonight," said Burnett, who started the first 11 batters he faced with a strike and got ahead in the count all night. "That allowed me to open up and expand the zone after that."

Martinez, a familiar foe to New York in seven seasons with the Boston Red Sox, went six-plus innings and was charged with three runs on six hits and struck out eight.

Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel admired the performances of both pitchers.

"Burnett was good. He was very aggressive with his fastball and his slider was off the chart. He pitched a heck of a game," Manuel told reporters.

"Pedro did a tremendous job, changing speeds, but he got hurt by the long ball from left-handed hitters."

Philadelphia scored in the second when Raul Ibanez blooped a two-out double down the left-field line and came home when third baseman Alex Rodriguez failed to corral a smash off the bat of designated hitter Matt Stairs.

Teixeira, who had been slumping with a .186 postseason average, blasted a 1-0 pitch into the Yankees bullpen in right-center to tie it 1-1.

"We hadn't done much offensively all series, and Pedro was pitching great," Teixeira said about the Yankees' lineup that was beaten 1-6 by Phillies' starter Cliff Lee in the opener.

"I think the home run got the crowd back in it, it evened the game. Hopefully it gave AJ some confidence that we were actually going to score for him, and it kind of put a little bit of a crack in their armor."

Two innings later Matsui put the Yankees in front by pulling a soft, 117 kilometers-per-hour curve into the lower deck in right.

"Matsui's home run was just huge for our confidence," added Teixeira.

New York padded its lead with another run in the seventh after Jerry Hairston Jr and Melky Cabrera opened with singles.

Park Chan-ho relieved Martinez and yielded a single to center by Jorge Posada that scored Brett Gardner.

Closer Mariano Rivera pitched the last two innings for the save, escaping trouble in the eighth by getting Chase Utley to rap into a double play turned by Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter with men on first and second and one out.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was relieved to get the win. "We're playing a very good baseball team, and you don't want to spot them two games when it's the best of seven," he said. "It was extremely important."

Andy Pettitte, who has a record 16 career postseason wins, starts Game Three for the Yankees against fellow left-hander Cole Hamels, last year's World Series MVP for the Phillies.


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