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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So McEnroe had a point after all. Scientists study 4,000 tennis points and find 80% of umpire 'out' calls are 'in'

By David Derbyshire

John McEnroe called it: Referees really do call 'out' in error due to perception

John McEnroe reacting in anger after a disputed 'out' decision

John McEnroe may have had good reason to turn on the tantrums.

Scientists have shown that tennis umpires tend to succumb to an optical illusion that makes balls appear to be out when they are just inside the line.

The discovery, based on analysis of more than 4,000 Wimbledon tennis points, comes nearly three decades after McEnroe's infuriated outbursts at umpires' apparent sight problems made him a household name.

The authors say the illusion is so powerful that every shot in tennis games should be reviewed by instant replay.

Players and spectators have long been puzzled by the ability of umpires to make the strangest calls, particularly in the days before electronic linesmen.

In 1981, McEnroe sealed his reputation as the Superbrat of tennis with a vitriolic outburst against an umpire.

'You cannot be serious!' he yelled. 'That ball was on the line! The chalk flew up! It was clearly in! How can you possibly call that out?'

A team of researchers at the University of California have shown the unfortunate umpire may have been the victim of a simple trick of the eye.

Dr David Whitney, who led the study, said the human brain struggles to keep track of moving objects - or objects that appear to move because we are moving our heads or eyes.


'The visual system is sluggish. It takes 100 or more milliseconds for us to become aware of an image that strikes our retina,' he said.

'So by the time we perceive an object like the coffee cup in one location, it will have already changed location as we move toward it. Our perception lags behind reality.'

To get around this delay, the brain tries to compensate and mentally repositions the object where it thinks it should be. The trouble is, it often overcompensates.

Studies have shown that when people follow an object moving in a straight line, their brains usually think the object is slightly further along its path than it is.

'You cannot be serious!': The 1980 war of words between McEnroe and referee Fred Hoyles

'You cannot be serious!': The 1980 war of words between McEnroe and referee Fred Hoyles

Dr Whitney said umpires, players and spectators would experience the same illusion at Wimbledon. If a ball is moving through the air towards the chalk lines from left to right, it will appear to spectators at any one time to be slightly further right than it really is.

'And if it bounces close to the line inside the court, many people watching will wrongly 'see' it touching the grass outside the court.

That means umpires will make far more mistakes when calling a ball 'out' than calling one 'in', he said.

To test the theory, his team looked at 4,000 randomly selected tennis points from the 2007 championship.

Out of the 83 incorrect calls, they found that 70 - or 84 per cent - were wrong 'out' calls.

This supports the view that visual processing rather than poor judgment was to blame.

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Ronaldo wins world players' award

Man Utd star Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo was in unstoppable form last season

Manchester United and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo has been named FifPro World Footballer of the Year, beating 54 other top players on the shortlist.

The honour, voted for by professional footballers from all over the world, was widely expected after Ronaldo scored 42 goals for United last season.

Ronaldo was also named in the FifPro team of the year, alongside his United team-mate Rio Ferdinand.

"To be recognised by my fellow players is amazing," said the 23-year-old.

"I would like to thank my team-mates and coaches and everyone involved at United and the national team, as well as my family and friends for their support."

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres and Chelsea and England captain John Terry also made the team, along with AC Milan midfielder Kaka and Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo, who was the driving force behind United's Premier League and Champions League double last season, is also a strong contender to win the Fifa World Player of the Year award and the Ballon d'Or.

The number of goals he scored last year was absolutely phenomenal
Sir Alex Ferguson on Ronaldo
He was linked with a move to Real Madrid during the summer but the winger is looking to put that episode behind him, while revealing United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was the major factor behind his decision to stay.

"Sir Alex has been a big inspiration to me," he said. "He believed in me enough to buy me. I have learned so many things from him and I am continuing to learn because he is a great manager.

"Of course, he was the main factor in keeping me here. But what happened in the summer is finished. Now my head is on the club. My focus is solely on playing well for Manchester United and winning the Premier League and Champions League again."

Ronaldo has three goals to his name this season after missing the start of the campaign through injury, but Ferguson has backed the star to come good.

"I still think he will beat 25," said Ferguson. "It is going to be difficult because he has had a stop-start beginning to the season.

"He had the operation on his ankle so he has missed a few games and he is just getting his rhythm back.

"The number of goals he scored last year was absolutely phenomenal. But I hope he can be equally as good this year in terms of his contribution to the team."

The original 55-man FifPro shortlist included Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fabregas.

FifPro is the worldwide representative organisation for professional football players, with more than 57,500 members.


FifPro World XI:

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas (Spain/Real Madrid)

Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Spain/Real Madrid); John Terry (England/Chelsea); Carles Puyol (Spain/ Barcelona); Rio Ferdinand (England/Manchester United)

Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (England/Liverpool); Xavi (Spain/Barcelona); Kaka (Brazil/AC Milan).

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Argentina/Barcelona); Fernando Torres (Spain/Liverpool); Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Manchester United)

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After 34 hours, they can stop now

By Rick Carpiniello

Event organizer Kevin Kaye of OnTrack Sport Center in Tarrytown keeps track of players during the 34-hour indoor soccer game, which finally ended yesterday morning with the White team ahead of the Black team 623-450.

Event organizer Kevin Kaye of OnTrack Sport Center in Tarrytown keeps track of players during the 34-hour indoor soccer game, which finally ended yesterday morning with the White team ahead of the Black team 623-450. (Stuart Bayer/The Journal News)


TARRYTOWN - I was feeling kind of tired, having fallen asleep during Game 3 of the World Series, and being jolted awake by the alarm clock before 6 a.m. yesterday.

Two coffees, a quick shower, then a ride to OnTrack Sport Center in Tarrytown, and as soon as I walked through the door I felt like the Energizer Bunny and Speedy Gonzalez rolled into one.

Because the people inside OnTrack made my five-plus hours of sleep seem Rip Van Winklian.

They had been up since some point Friday, most of them since early Friday morning, with only a couple of tiny cat naps in sleeping bags on the center's cold artificial turf. The 22 of them - two women, 20 men - had just completed a record-breaking 34-hour indoor soccer game at 7:30 a.m. yesterday. They had topped the Guinness World Record for an indoor soccer game - 30 hours - at 3:30 a.m. and tacked on another four hours. Guinness has to review it and authenticate it, which will take two to six weeks.

Final score: White 623, Black 450.

It might have been closer, but the Black lost two players, one to a back injury and one who quit - "He should be ashamed of himself," said Aniello Ricchiuti of Sleepy Hollow, who played for the winning team.

Plus, the sides were chosen somewhat blindly.

"The difficult thing about this was we had 30-40 inquiries and requests to play, and when it came down to crunch time, we had so many people back out, either inexplicably or came up with ridiculous excuses," said Kevin Kaye of Briarcliff, the president/general manager of OnTrack Sport Center who had been planning the event since the spring of 2007.

"At the end, everybody was hugging and cheering, and just as close as you could be on any team. It was great."

The Red Bulls sent their "Street Team" over to perform ball skills during the kickoff reception Friday, and at the end of the game yesterday, Red Bulls player Carlos Mendes showed up to congratulate the teams.

"I appreciate what you guys have done," Mendes told them. "I play 90 minutes and I'm exhausted."

The event benefitted the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Though still being tabulated, the goal was to raise enough, at least, to grant a wish for a seriously ill child (average cost of a wish: $7,500).

"I knew that it had to be tied to something bigger than just the event," Kaye said. "Yeah, it was a big thing to do - any time you break a world record, everybody thinks it's a big deal - but I wanted to have more of a purpose attached to it. I felt it would motivate people to work even harder because it was for a good cause."

On Friday night, a Make-A-Wish kid who'd had a wish granted, a young girl named Jody from Rockland (the foundation doesn't identify kids) who had 38 surgeries and lost both legs, addressed the participants.

"You can't not look at these kids and think about what Make-A-Wish does for them and not be moved, and not realize how lucky you are," said player Tom Schumacher of Sleepy Hollow. "I've got two healthy kids. Amen. I found myself getting a little choked up, but it's a good feeling."

So they began, with rules and regs set by Guinness. There would be no more than 24 players (five per team on the field at any time), and players couldn't switch sides. For every hour played, five minutes' worth of break could be accumulated. Nobody was allowed to leave and come back. Local sponsors provided food. The pace early was frantic.

"It was funny because it took a good 15 minutes before the first goal was scored, and in indoor (soccer) that's pretty amazing," Schumacher said.

They almost finished themselves before they had really even begun.

"In the beginning, we actually foolishly played a little harder than we should have," Ricchiuti said, "We slowed it down. We had no choice."

"Nobody wanted to give up that first goal," Kaye said. "The ironic thing is that the tempo didn't slow down until four or five hours later, and at that point the players realized, 'Wow, I better slow down because I'm feeling tired, and we haven't even gone four or five hours yet.' So the goals started coming then."

There were also moments of truth. One was Friday night/Saturday morning, when Kaye said there was "an absolute, across-the-board fear that we weren't going to do it, because it occurred to them that we hadn't even put a dent in the record yet and we still had a whole night to go through, and they were dragging."

So they had a meeting during a break. Should we keep on going, or walk away right now? The answer was an "unequivocal 'No, we're going for this,' " Kaye said.

Another tough time was the 15-hour mark, when they realized they were only halfway home.

"It was definitely not as easy as just talking about it," Kaye said.

Schumacher was posting a chronicle of the marathon on Facebook, and received an e-mail from the commissioner of the AYSO in which he coaches both his son's and his daughter's teams. It said, "Great job. Good stuff. Now wake up and go coach your two teams." So he hoped to get a hot bath and then go for two more games.

"What's that they say?" Schumacher said. "You sleep when you're dead, right?"

Kaye said he planned to be sleeping, "as soon as I can get out of my car and make it to my floor.

"The thing that was most important to me is that the guys and women who were on this field, some of whom had never met, worked so hard for something, and came together, and were on the brink of what I consider to be a walk-away failure. It sounds maybe a little silly ... but really that was much more important to me than (the record). And even more important was the cause we were doing it for, Make-A-Wish."

There was pride and satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, on their weary faces, even as they limped out of the place, many complaining of aches and pains.

As they did, Mendes, the pro athlete, warned them, "Wait 'til tomorrow."

Reach Rick Carpiniello at rcarpini@lohud.com.

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Ferrari threaten to quit formula one over new engine plan

Alan Henry

Ferrari

Ferrari believe a move to standardised engines would negate their reason for existing in formula one. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

Ferrari warned yesterday that they could quit formula one if the sport's governing body continues with its plans to slash costs. The famous Italian team, which has been in formula one since its inauguration in 1950, sent a firm signal to the FIA president, Max Mosley, that his idea of introducing so-called standard engines into the sport would take away their raison d'être for competing in motor racing.

Last week the Ferrari team sporting director, Stefano Domenicali, and Toyota's formula one vice-president, John Howett, met Mosley to discuss the issue of cost-cutting, which would also help the smaller teams survive. But the issue of standard engines has pushed them too far. Ferrari, in a statement released following a board meeting on Monday, said they "fully agreed with the need for a substantial and necessary reduction of costs".

But the Italian firm said it had "major reservations" over any proposals that would lead to teams using the same engines: "It would deprive formula one of its whole reason for existing, which is based on competition and technological development. If these elements were to become obsolete, our administrative council [board] reserves the right, after consultation with its partners, to evaluate whether we remain committed to the discipline [of formula one]."

Ferrari have been historically closely aligned with the FIA and the sport's commercial rights holder, Bernie Ecclestone, and it will not have escaped Mosley's attention that they are one of the few formula one teams who have, in the past, successfully forced the governing body to back down from rule changes with which they disapproved. At the end of 1986 Ferrari forced the FIA to abandon plans to ban V12 engines in favour of V10s.

Howett echoed Ferrari's sentiments yesterday, and said any decision to quit would be down to the company's board in Japan. "I don't think any of the manufacturers want a homogenised engine," said Howett. Mercedes, Honda, Renault and BMW are the other four manufacturers currently involved in formula one, and it is understood they are of the same mind.

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Why NFL Kickers Want Head Coaches to Ice Them

We asked a handful of kickers about those last-second time-outs opposing head coaches keep calling. Their response: "Thanks!" Also: The real reason commentators laugh so hard during pre-game shows.

By Peter Schrager

icing the kicker

Photo illustration by Eric Gillin, art from iStockPhoto

Ed. Note: This is the third installment of Peter Schrager's weekly football column, which runs on Thursdays. You can read his archive here.

When in the heat of battle, it seems rather counter-intuitive to voluntarily help an opponent out. Whether in chess, trial law, or American Idol, giving your foes a chance to practice, re-group, and then try again at no cost whatsoever simply doesn’t make much sense.

Yet, NFL head coaches are doing precisely this, calling last-millisecond time outs in an attempt to "ice" the opposing kicker, inadvertently giving the other team a free practice shot at a field goal. The idea, of course, is to tire the kicker, to get inside his head, to force him to miss. But over the past two weeks, Icing the Kicker 2.0 has already backfired twice.

Two weeks ago, Dallas kicker Nick Folk missed a game-tying kick, but unbeknownst to the fans in the stadium, Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt had whispered a timeout call into the line judge's ear a split-second before the attempt. Given second life, the Pro Bowl kicker split his next attempt through the uprights. This past Sunday, it happened again, when Raiders interim coach Tom Cable called timeout just before Jets kicker Jay Feely clanked a field goal off the goalpost. On his second go at it, Feely nailed the 52-yard attempt, sending the game into overtime.

Ironically, Feely thought Icing 2.0 actually helped him out, telling reporters after the game: "I heard the whistle before I started, which is an advantage to the kicker. If you're going to do that, do that before he kicks. I can kick it down the middle, see what the wind does and adjust. It helps the kicker tremendously."

I spoke with a guy who knows a little something about pressure kicks -- four-time Super Bowl champion and future NFL Hall of Famer Adam Vinatieri -- earlier this week. "The coaches calling timeouts at the last possible second -- I think that's something that will be addressed by the NFL Rules Committee," says Vinatieri. "Sometimes, though, it may be a good thing. It gives us an opportunity to actually see the ball on the ground, kick the ball and have another shot at it."

So why do coaches do this? Because it works, at least from the small statistical analysis that's been done. According to Michael David Smith at FootballOutsiders.com, "In a 2004 article in the academic journal Chance, two statisticians studied every field goal attempt from the 2002 and 2003 NFL seasons, and isolated all the 'pressure' kicks -- those that would tie the game or give the team a lead within the final three minutes of the game. The statisticians found that kickers were more likely to miss those pressure kicks if the opposing team had called a timeout beforehand."

But that's old-fashioned icing -- after all, Bill Parcells called a timeout before Scott Norwood's infamous miss in Super Bowl XXV. This last-second Icing 2.0 concept only began in 2006, when a rule change gave head coaches the right to call timeouts from the sideline. Denver coach Mike Shanahan became the first to employ Icing 2.0 early last season in a win over Oakland. Raiders coach Lane Kiffin liked it so much that he pulled the move the very next week in a victory over Cleveland. Suddenly, it was all the rage.

Only, it hasn't really "worked" since.

University of Florida coach Urban Meyer tried Icing 2.0 against Auburn last year -- Auburn's kicker nailed both of his attempts, as shown in the video above. Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron tried Icing 2.0 last year against the Cowboys. The aforementioned Folk made both kicks in that situation, too.

Those who look beyond the statistical analysis (and who probably don't subscribe to the academic journal Chance) think "icing the kicker" is just plain absurd. Writer Stefan Fatsis spent a year with the Denver Broncos, actually suiting up at kicker during the team's 2006 training camp for his best-selling book A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL. "Kickers usually miss kicks because they struck the ball a quarter inch above or below, to the right or the left of where they should have, which can happen in the first quarter as easily as it can in the fourth," explains Fatsis. "Snappers and holders play a role here, too, don't forget. So coaches and media and fans can believe what they want, but kickers miss 52-yard field goals because it's not easy to kick 52-yard field goals. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Factor in the chance to go through all the motions and actually have a practice kick in a pressure situation and it's tough to figure out why opposing coaches even consider Icing 2.0 anymore.

But from the looks of it, the latest fad in coaching doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon. As current St. Louis Rams and former Seattle Seahawks kicker Josh Brown told me this week, "Thank God there are only three time outs. I think coaches would do this all day long if they could."

Fantasy Life: The Fine Art of Trash Talk on Fantasy Football Message Boards

The fantasy football message board is one of the last relevant forms of direct communication left in our society. Text messages have replaced the phone call, Blackberry pings have replaced the long-form email, and Facebook has replaced the need to actually have real friendships.

But the fantasy football message board? It's still there, as strong as it's ever been, an irreplaceable part of everyday life. Waiting for a text about your wife's impending pregnancy? Put it on hold. An update about layoffs at work? It can wait. You got a ping that someone's offering Steven Jackson for your #2 wide receiver? That's what we call a #1 priority.

Of course, the fantasy football message board has a second function, too -- it's also a way for five-foot-two, passive-aggressive weenies to talk shit without fear of retaliation. Without the consequences that come with face-to-face interaction, things no man would ever say to another magically find their way into public forums.

In my league, I've seen it all. Attacks at an opponent's mother and her dental hygiene (or lack thereof), incriminating pictures from forgotten Saturday nights of yesteryear, even transcribed voicemails left on ex-girlfriends' cell phones during dark and lonely times. Nothing says "I want to get back together" quite like seeing it posted in Arial 10 font for all your buddies to see -- somewhere under a photoshopped picture and a list of last week's waiver wire pickups. "What's this? A Facebook photo of my ex-fiancee with her new husband on a gondola ride in Venice right under a note about Team Dunghole signing BenJarvus Green-Ellis? Oh, nice. Thanks for that." It's all common practice on your average fantasy football league message board.

Someone should probably draft up an Official Fantasy Football Message Board Code of Conduct. Or perhaps, a Ten Commandments. You know -- "Thou Shalt Not Break News of Friend's Wife Seen With Another Man At Local Applebee's" -- stuff like that. Or, just a general rule of thumb: "If you wouldn't say it in person, don't post it."

Then again, that would take away most of the fun.

Got some good message board trash talk? Send it my way -- to PeterSchrager@gmail.com and if we get any good ones, we'll post it here over the next few weeks.

Three Questions with Pete Radovich, Producer of Inside the NFL

This week, we spoke with Pete Radovich, producer of Showtime's Inside the NFL. A winner of 10 Emmys, Radovich steers the ship on cable television's longest running show, which made the move from HBO to Showtime this off-season.

NFL studio shows tend to be a circus of canned laughter and forced friendship. Inside the NFL doesn't seem that way. How come?

I think what helps makes us different is the fact that we are not a live show. When you do anything on live television you tend to rehearse a lot, but there is a downside to rehearsing -- you lose spontaneity. For example, the first time somebody makes a funny comment on the set, everybody usually laughs hard -- but it's a genuine laughter. The second and third time the laughter usually isn't as authentic. By the time you go live-to-air you've now heard that joke as many as four or five times and the laughter can sometimes seem forced or canned, as you say. At Inside the NFL we don't rehearse. We have a meeting outlining what we'll talk about, and in that meeting I make sure that the guys don't give away any of their best material until we start taping. The idea is to have the audience and our guys hear the material for the first time together. I promise you this -- any reaction on our show is genuine.

You played a role in hand-picking the current show's cast of characters. You went with Simms, Collinsworth, James Brown, and Warren Sapp. What went into those decisions?

Anytime you put together a group of announcers that haven't all worked together before, it's like setting up people on a blind date. You start thinking things like, "I wonder how they would get along" and "would they have good chemistry together?" But in this case it was pretty easy. Phil Simms and J.B. were already both working together at CBS Sports and J.B. and Cris Collinsworth already had a great history together. We had, without question, three of the best and most respected guys in the business. So once we had those guys locked in, we felt we needed a more recent link to the league. Preferably, a recently retired defensive player, since Phil and Cris both played offense. A player with great on-the-field credentials, and a player that wasn't afraid of saying things that might piss people off. Enter Warren Sapp. He was perfect. A no-brainer.

The show picked up some real buzz when Warren Sapp called out Al Davis a few weeks ago. Did the other on-set guys know that bomb was coming?

When I first met Warren, I told him he might lose some friends in his new job. His response was, "I only have three friends in this world my man, and I don't give a shit about anything else." That's when I knew he might make some noise at some point. Keeping with our format, he didn't give away any of his material in our meeting that morning. Nobody knew what to expect that day, myself included. I just remember right before we taped that segment I asked him, "Are you about to make some headlines?" He just looked at me, smiled, winked and walked to the set. I believe that the reaction and buzz that that segment created put Showtime's version of Inside the NFL back on the map. We still have 16 more shows to go this season and there's no telling what else Warren will say. I love it.

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Game 4 final -- Phillies 10, Rays 2

By Reid Cherner & Tom Weir

If a team with as many good hitters as the Philadelphia Phillies keeps getting chances to blow a game -- or a series -- open, someday they're going to explode. That's what happened in Game 4 tonight as the Phillies hit four home runs on their way to a 10-2 rout and moved within one win of the World Series championship.

Ryan Howard hit two homers and drove in five runs, while Jayson Werth and winning pitcher Joe Blanton also connected in the offensive explosion that made everyone forget the Phils' previous struggles with men in scoring position.

Now, the Phillies will send ace Cole Hamels to the mound tomorrow with a chance to wrap things up in five games. Hamels will be opposed by Rays lefty Scott Kazmir.

The live blog of the game and the running commentary is archived below.

--

Pregame

It's a beautiful night in Philadelphia. The rain that caused last night's 91-minute delay has moved out of the area and with temperatures in the mid-50s, the Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays are set to do battle in Game 4.

The Phillies lead two games to one thanks to a dramatic, 5-4 ninth-inning victory last night and they're hoping to ride that momentum behind starting pitcher Joe Blanton, who was undefeated since being acquire from the Oakland A's at the trade deadline.

On the mound for the Rays is right-hander Andy Sonnanstine, who is 2-0 in the playoffs with a 3.46 ERA.

Top 1st

The wind is a little different tonight and it shows on the first ball put in play. Akinori Iwamura lifts a fly ball down the left field line that seemed to keep carrying and carrying before Pat Burrell gloves it on the warning track. The wind is blowing out just a little bit -- as opposed to last night when it was gusting from left to right.

The Phillies took advantage as the wind knocked down a potential home run to left by the Rays Evan Longoria and helped a pair of homers to right by the Phils' Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

B.J. Upton strikes out looking and Carlos Pena is retired on a foul out to catcher, giving Blanton an easy first inning. (Rays 0, Phillies 0)

Bottom 1st

And right away the Phillies have a threat going. Jimmy Rollins rips one down the first base line and into the corner for a leadoff double. Although Jayson Werth is retired on a fly to right -- another Phillies out with a runner in scoring position -- Rollins advances to third. Chase Utley walks to bring up Ryan Howard.

REPLAY CONTROVERSY No. 2. Howard hits one right back to the pitcher and Sonnastine has Rollins straying too far off third base. As he runs him back to third, he waits a little too long and Rollins dives back to the bag as Evan Longoria misses the tag ... or does he? The TV replay shows Longoria clearly making contact before Rollins reaches the base. Now the sacks are loaded with only one out.

(Last night, the Rays caught a break when Carl Crawford was safe on a controversial call that replay showed was incorrect.)

The Phillies can't get a hit with men in scoring position, but Sonnanstine walks Pat Burrell -- who's still without a hit in the World Series -- to force in a run. But he escapes further damage by inducing a comebacker from Shane Victorino and retiring Pedro Feliz on a harmless fly to center.

The Phillies take the lead but still must feel like they should have gotten more than one run. (Phillies 1, Rays 0)

Top 2nd

Evan Longoria is now hitless in 13 at-bats in the Series (with seven strikeouts) after whiffing to start the inning. He and Carlos Pena, the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters in the Rays lineup, are a combined 0-for-24 so far.

Manager Joe Maddon was asked before the game if his team could win with those two so unproductive. He didn't give the stock answer, but instead said yes, they could find other ways to win. But of course, it's a lot tougher to do when your big guns aren't firing.

A two-out single by Dioner Navarro goes to waste when Ben Zobrist flies out to center. (Phillies 1, Rays 0)

Bottom 2nd

Jimmy Rollins must like being at home. After going hitless at Tampa Bay, Rollins has four hits already in Philadelphia after singling to right with two outs. But Jayson Werth flies out to strand Rollins at first. (Phillies 1, Rays 0)

Top 3rd

Phillies starter Joe Blanton looks sharp early. He strikes out Jason Bartlett for his fourth K of the game. Not bad for a guy who's not known as a strikeout pitcher. He had a season high of 9 strikeouts, but averaged a rather medicore 5.1 per 9 innings.

Although he gave up a hit to opposing pitcher Andy Sonnanstine (4-for-10 in his career), Blanton escapes with no further damage. (Phillies 1, Rays 0)

Bottom 3rd

For the second time in three innings, the Rays' Andy Sonnanstine is going to have to get an extra out. Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura boots a rather routine ground ball as leadoff man Chase Utley is aboard.

Ryan Howard singles to right and moves Utley to third with no one out. And here we go again with the runners in scoring position. Just like in the first inning, Burrell can drive in a run without getting a hit. He did then with a bases-loaded walk, but this time his popup is corraled by shortstop Jason Bartlett for the first out. Burrell is now hitless in 10 trips in the Series.

Shane Victorino pops up to short as well, putting the Phillies 2-for-39 with runners in scoring position in the Series (and both of those hits were infield hits).

But all of Citizens Bank Park lets out a sigh of relief when Pedro Feliz rips a single to left field to score Utley with the second run of the game. Make it now 3-for-40! And the error comes back to haunt the Rays.

Iwamura redeems himself somewhat when Carlos Ruiz grounds one up the middle. Even though he can't make a play at second, Iwamura keeps the ball in the infield to prevent a run from scoring. Pitcher Joe Blanton fouls out to first and the Phillies leave the bases loaded. (Phillies 2, Rays 0)

Top 4th

With all due respect to manager Joe Maddon, the Rays simply can't win if Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria aren't contributing. They're a combined 0-for-24 in the World Series. Make it 0-for-25 as Pena strikes out swinging. That's 5 K's for Blanton tonight.

Longoria hits one deep in the hole that Jimmy Rollins fields and fires to first to get the out.

Just when Rays fans were starting to get really worried -- especially with Cole Hamels the Phillies' game 5 starter -- the only Rays player to hit a home run in the Series hits another. Carl Crawford takes a changeup into the second row of the right field seats and the Rays have cut the deficit in half. (Phillies 2, Rays 1)

Bottom 4th

Once again, the Phillies are the beneficiary of some sloppy defensive play. Akinori Iwamura has a Jimmy Rollins grounder go under his glove in what's ruled an error, but could have been called a base hit just as easily. It will be interesting to see if all these missed plays will start to affect Andy Sonnanstine on the mound.

It could be a factor right now as Jayson Werth draws a walk to put runners on first and second with Utley and Howard coming up. This could be the ballgame right here and Joe Maddon senses it as he makes his way to the mound to talk to his pitcher. (Righty Edwin Jackson and lefty Trever Miller are starting to warm in the Rays bullpen. Perhaps Maddon is giving them a little extra time to get ready.)

Whatever Maddon said must have worked as Sonnanstine strikes out Utley for the first out.

LOOK OUT. There's a long one off the bat of Ryan Howard over the left field wall and the Phillies have extended their lead to four runs. Howard took a curve ball the other way for his second home run in as many nights -- after going the first 11 games of the playoffs without one. (Phillies 5, Rays 1)

Top 5th

With two quick outs, the Rays are going to pinch-hit for pitcher Andy Sonnanstine. And here comes Eric Hinske, who was left off the team's World Series roster but added when Cliff Floyd was replaced due to an injury.

And Hinske launches one. It's deep to center field and off the ivy-covered brick wall that serves as the batter's backdrop. Whoa. It has to be at least a 430-foot blast. And the Rays have cut the lead to three. It's Hinske's first at-bat since Sept. 28, but he ripped that one like he'd been playing every day.

The home run is the 25th for the Rays this postseason, the most ever for an American League team. (Phillies 5, Rays 2)

Bottom 5th

Talk about your good omens. Philies pitcher Joe Blanton joins in the home-run fest with a two-out shot well into the seats in left. And Citizens Bank Park erupts. Blanton becomes the 14th pitcher to hit a home run in a World Series game and the first since Ken Holtzman of the Oakland A's in 1974.

The other three batters to make outs in the inning don't matter to the fans, who keep cheering as Blanton walks out to take the mound in the sixth. (Phillies 6, Rays 2)

Top 6th

If ever there was a time for the Rays' big hitters to come alive, this would be it. Joe Blanton has been incredibly effective all game though, yielding only four hits.

Carlos Pena still doesn't have a hit, but he is able to draw a walk. That brings up Longoria ... but he takes a called third strike on the outside corner. Crawford is hit by a pitch, Blanton's 88th of the night, to put runners on first and second. It's the first time the Rays have had a runner in scoring position all night.

But Blanton comes up with another strikeout, No. 7 tonight, and Dioner Navarro is the third out with no runs crossing the plate. (Phillies 6, Rays 2)

Bottom 6th

The Phillies have their big guns coming up and they're especially dangerous after Jayson Werth strokes a leadoff double. But Edwin Jackson strikes out Chase Utley and after an intentional walk to Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell hits into an inning-ending double play. (Phillies 6, Rays 2)

Top 7th

Joe Blanton's night is over after a leadoff walk to Ben Zobrist. A very nice six-innings plus for Blanton, who will finish the season without a single loss in a Phillies uniform, regular or postseason.

The new pitcher is Chad Durbin, who gets Jason Bartlett on a fly to center but yields a pinch-hit single to Willy Aybar. With two men on and only one out, left-handed hitting Aki Iwamura is due up next so Charlie Manuel goes back to his bullpen for lefty Scott Eyre.

Iwamura goes the other way to left fielder Eric Bruntlett, who was just put into the game to replace Pat Burrell for defensive reasons. And with B.J. Upton coming to the plate, the Phillies go to right-hander Ryan Madson.

On a 3-2 pitch with the runners on the move, Upton strikes out swinging and the Rays get nothing. (Phillies 6, Rays 2)

Bottom 7th

Dan Wheeler is on to pitch for the Rays. Pedro Feliz has an infield single but is erased when Iwamura snags a line drive and doubles Feliz off first base. (Phillies 6, Rays 2)

Top 8th

Ryan Madson, who came on to get the final out of the 7th inning, is back on the hill for the 8th.

In a fitting metaphor for the way things have gone in the Series, struggling sluggers Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria both strike out. They're now a combined 0-for-28 against Phillies pitching. A harmless groundout by Carl Crawford and the inning is over. (Phillies 6, Rays 2)

Bottom 8th

Matt Stairs comes in to pinch-hit for Phillies pitcher Ryan Madson and he receives a loud ovation -- even though he's only batted three times in the postseason. Stairs had a game-clinching home run in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Dodgers. However, he strikes out on a foul tip.

Jimmy Rollins just misses a home run down the right-field line, settling for a double off the wall instead. The next batter, Jayson Werth, doesn't miss it. He scalds one into the left-field seats for a two-run homer that should just about put this game in the deep freeze.

We have another pitching change as Trever Miller will become the Rays' fourth pitcher of the night.

So much for getting out the Phillies' left-handed power hitters. Chase Utley walks and Ryan Howard cranks out another homer, this one deep to right to give him five RBI on the night. The slump is now over, thank you very much. (Phillies 10, Rays 2)

Top 9th

The Phillies' offensive explosion makes it unnecessary to even have Brad Lidge come into the game so J.C. Romero gets the call to close things out. A called strike three on Jason Bartlett is the 11th strikeout by Phillies pitchers.

Pinch-hitter Rocco Baldelli is the final hitter and he -- what else -- strikes out to end the game. (Phillies 10, Rays 2)

WP - Blanton
LP - Sonnanstine