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Yankees hit form in World Series

AJ Burnett
Burnett signed a five-year, $82.5m deal with the Yankees last December

AJ Burnett marked his first World Series appearance by guiding the New York Yankees to a crucial 3-1 victory over Philadelphia in the Bronx.

After the Phillies won Wednesday's opener 6-1, the pressure was on Burnett to help the Yankees bounce back before the series moves to Philadelphia.

The right-hander pitched seven innings, giving up one run on four hits while striking out nine.

Game three of the best-of-seven series is on Saturday in Pennsylvania.

And Burnett's performance will send the Yankees there in high spirits.

The 32-year-old kept the Phillies off-balance with a killer curveball and slider, throwing only 108 pitches against last season's World Series champions.

"I knew it was a big game," said Burnett, who signed a five-year, $82.5m contract with the Yankees as a free agent last December. "It was the biggest game I've ever thrown in for this team.

"I fed off the crowd - they were up every time I got one strike, they were up every time I got two, and instead of over throwing, I stayed within myself.

I fed off the crowd - they were cheering all the time, but when I struck guys out they really got loud, so I was trying to keep that going for them

AJ Burnett

"They were cheering all the time, but when I struck guys out they really got loud, so I was trying to keep that going for them."

Burnett was on the Florida Marlins' staff when they beat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series, but was unable to play as he was recovering from "Tommy John" elbow surgery.

He made the most of his opportunity this time around, though, with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel conceding that his effort was "tremendous".

Philadelphia opened the scoring in the second inning when Raul Ibanez doubled off the left-field line and scored on a Matt Stairs single but Pedro Martinez, a long-time Yankee nemesis with Boston, could not hold the lead.

The 38-year-old Dominican right-hander struck out eight in just over six innings, extending Alex Rodriguez's debut World Series slump to 0-for-8 with three strikeouts for the second night in a row.

But Mark Teixiera belted a high Martinez change-up and Japan's Hideki Matsui hit his eighth US career playoff homer into the right-field stands to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

606: DEBATE

Jerry Hairston, playing for New York in place of Nick Swisher due to a superior batting average against Martinez, then singled to open the seventh and took third on Melky Cabrera's single to end Martinez's night.

Reliever Park Chan Ho entered for Philadelphia and gave up a single to pinch-hitter Jorge Posada that brought Hairston home for the last run.

Philadelphia's Chase Utley stretched his record play-off streak of reaching base to 27 games when Burnett intentionally walked him in the third, but Burnett grounded into a double play in the eighth to kill a possible Phillies rally.

The scene now shifts to Philadelphia where Yankee star Andy Pettitte, a four-time Series champion, is set to face fellow southpaw Cole Hamels, last year's Series Most Valuable Player.

The Yankees have won 26 titles in 40 World Series appearances but have not captured the crown since 2000 despite baseball's biggest payroll - $201m this year.

Philadelphia are bidding to become the first side to win back-to-back titles since the Yankees in 2000.



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see also
Phillies take World Series opener
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Fan denies sex-for-tickets gambit
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Yankees advance to World Series
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Phillies return to World Series
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Yankees & Angels complete sweeps
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Philadelphia secure World Series
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Baseball - the basics
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Baseball jargonbuster
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