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Players on '08 team recall tense final moments

Ten years ago, Phillies defeated Rays in Game 5 to win World Series
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Before Chase Utley declared the 2008 Phillies "world [bleeping] champions," before the parade down Broad Street, before Shane Victorino bounded like Superman onto a pile of teammates and before Brad Lidge fell to his knees and Carlos Ruiz ran into his arms, the Phillies needed three more outs in Game 5 of the World Series.

The Phillies held a 4-3 lead on that chilly October night 10 years ago Monday. Rays pinch-runner Fernando Perez stood on second base. Ben Zobrist stepped into the batter's box with one out. He laced a line drive to right field. The ball knuckled and tailed away from Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth, but he caught it.

PHILADELPHIA -- Before Chase Utley declared the 2008 Phillies "world [bleeping] champions," before the parade down Broad Street, before Shane Victorino bounded like Superman onto a pile of teammates and before Brad Lidge fell to his knees and Carlos Ruiz ran into his arms, the Phillies needed three more outs in Game 5 of the World Series.

The Phillies held a 4-3 lead on that chilly October night 10 years ago Monday. Rays pinch-runner Fernando Perez stood on second base. Ben Zobrist stepped into the batter's box with one out. He laced a line drive to right field. The ball knuckled and tailed away from Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth, but he caught it.

Two outs.

"Holy [cow], that could have been really bad," Werth recalled this summer. "I was spooked. I was so spooked after that, that I really don't remember much. That's all I remember."

Fortunately, others remember more. Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee remembers emerging from the dugout and walking to the mound to make sure that Lidge threw Rays pinch-hitter Eric Hinske sliders. If Lidge needed to throw a fastball, Dubee wanted him to elevate the pitch out of the strike zone to try to make him chase it.

"You've faced him before," Dubee said. "How did it go?"

"He waffled a fastball off me," Lidge replied.

Video: MIA@PHI: Werth talks '08 team, support from city

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard had joined Lidge, Ruiz, Dubee and fellow infielders Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Pedro Feliz on the mound for the conference. He could not believe Lidge's candid, almost flippant response, particularly in a moment like that. This was the biggest moment of their professional lives, and Lidge seemed remarkably cool about it.

"I just sat there like, 'Holy [cow], what is about to take place?'" Howard said, laughing. "I had to try to keep it in."

"That's kind of typical of Lidgey," Dubee said.

Lidge explained.

"Honestly, for whatever reason, in that moment, I just felt very comfortable with what I wanted to do and what I knew I needed to do," he said. "So, my response, it probably even surprised me as relaxed as it was, but I just felt very much in control of the situation at that time."

Video: MIA@PHI: Brad Lidge throws the ceremonial first pitch

Phillies right-hander Ryan Madson watched Lidge battle Hinske from the right-hand corner of the Phillies' dugout. He had allowed a game-tying home run to Rocco Baldelli in the seventh, but Feliz bailed him out when he singled up the middle in the bottom of the seventh to score pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett, giving the Phillies the one-run lead.

Hinske fouled off a first-pitch slider.

Strike one.

Phillies relievers Scott Eyre and Clay Condrey watched from the railing in front of the bullpen in center field. Eyre was nervous. He played for the 2002 Giants, who were six outs from winning the World Series in Game 6. The Angels stormed back, won Game 6 and then won Game 7.

Eyre never forgot that sick feeling in his stomach.

"I remember feeling so anxious and nervous because of what happened to that '02 team," Eyre said. "I had some bad mojo in the back of my mind."

Lidge threw Hinske a 0-1 slider. He could not check his swing.

Strike two.

Geoff Jenkins stood next to Pat Burrell and Greg Dobbs in the Phillies' dugout. Jenkins blasted a pinch-hit double to lead off the sixth inning when Game 5 resumed following the Oct. 27 postponement because of a hard rain that left the field unplayable. Jenkins punched his right thigh so hard after touching second base that he literally bruised himself.

Tweet from @Phillies: The rain finally stopped falling, and it was time to finish the job. #Celebrate08 pic.twitter.com/KLq2qst3OG

He later scored to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead.

"During the season it's day to day, game to game," Jenkins said. "In the postseason it's pitch to pitch. Now it's a close-out game, the final inning, we've got the lead, we've got a guy that hasn't blown a save, I mean, nobody wants to look at each other because you don't want to jinx anything."

Eyre and Condrey talked strategy as the at-bat unfolded. What will Lidge do here? What happens if Hinske gets on? What's next? They were trying to keep themselves mentally prepared for any possibility. But then they discussed what they wanted to happen. Would they jump the railing onto the warning track below? Or would they run around to the side and take the stairs?

The stairs were the smarter, safer choice, but it would chew up precious seconds of celebration time.

"I don't know if I can make that jump," Eyre said.

"Me, either," Condrey said.

Lidge threw Hinske a 0-2 slider. He swung over the top of it.

Strike three!

Video: 2008 WS Gm5: Lidge gets the save in clincher

Lidge dropped to his knees. Ruiz smothered him.

Howard tackled both.

"I took both of them out, which was a terrible mistake because we wound up on the bottom of the pile," Howard said. "It can get very heavy with all of those guys on top of you. But it was an awesome moment.

"But leading up to that moment when Lidge said, 'He waffled me,' and then going through the at-bat where it's like, 'OK, come on, Brad. Come on, Brad,' and then to finally get down to the last strike, you can just feel the energy inside the entire stadium. And he just throws the damndest slider that you could ever throw. It was just filthy. And that's it. Madness."

Utley chucked his glove to the turf and sprinted into the pile.

"Maybe threw a few punches," Utley said. "I mean, it's pretty surreal. It happened really fast, but in the moment it was kind of like slow motion."

Tweet from @Phillies: The man. The play. #Celebrate08 pic.twitter.com/LjKPK5XORS

Feliz had been battling a back injury throughout the postseason. In fact, he spent the day between the first half of Game 5 on Oct. 27 and the second half of Game 5 on Oct. 29 in the trainer's room.

He joined the scrum anyway.

"I forgot about it," Feliz said about his back problems. "You didn't have to worry about it after that because you don't have to play the next day."

"I remember running," Eyre said. "I remember watching [Chad] Durbin, who is way faster than me and Clay. And Clay was probably a little faster than me. I do remember thinking I wish I was faster. But you're running, and it felt like we were running forever."

Condrey made his way into the fray, but he never jumped into the pile.

"I had a chew," Condrey said. "When I was running in, I spit it out and it came back and got me in the eye."

Tweet from @ShaneVictorino: 10 years ago today I got to experience something I only dreamed of as a little boy😘🏆 pic.twitter.com/63A2RqlVok

Phillies catching instructor Mick Billmeyer, who caught Lidge's warmup pitches in the bullpen, sat back and watched.

"I stood there," he said. "I wanted to watch everything. I watched the people go nuts. I watched the fireworks. In Philadelphia, when you win it's the best place in the world to be."

"It felt like a long run," said Bruntlett, who was in left field for the final out. "I remember jumping as I was running like a little kid. Just jumping. It took me forever to get there. The pile was already there when I got there. I was like, 'Do I jump on somebody here? What do I do?' Pat came around and gave me a big hug."

"I just remember running into the pile and then the party ensued," Madson said.

Like Howard said, madness.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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