With one last diving slider from Brad Lidge, the Curse of Billy Penn was officially broken.
Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz’s single to center at the bottom of the seventh inning became the difference in a tight ballgame that was rain delayed since Monday night. The hit scored utilityman Eric Bruntlett, who was pinch-running for Pat Burrell.
But the Rays threatened in the ninth. Catcher Dioner Navarro singled and pinch runner Fernando Perez stole second base. With the season on the line, Rays pinch hitter Eric Hinske struck out swinging to end the game.
With a final score of 4-3, the Phillies defeated the Rays to claim their second title in 125 years, sending a sold-out Citizens Bank Park into a wild frenzy.
Phillies Lefthander J.C. Romero recorded the win with 1.1 innings of shutout ball. Reliever Brad Lidge closed the game with his seventh save in the postseason. He was 41 for 41 in save opportunities during the season and has remained perfect in October.
Rays reliever J.P. Howell took the loss, giving up a hit and a run in two-thirds of an inning. Tampa Bay ended their season with 97 wins—the most in team history—and defeated last year’s champions the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.
Many Philadelphians blame the Curse of Billy Penn for the futility of the city’s major sports teams. A gentlemen’s agreement was in place that no building in the city should exceed height of the William Penn statue atop City Hall. That agreement was broken in 1987 when One Liberty Place became the tallest structure in Philadelphia.
With the win, the Phillies delivered the first major sports championship to the City of Philadelphia in 25 years. The city’s last championship came in 1983, when Dr. J and Moses Malone led the 76ers to the NBA title.