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Big step for Phils

LidgeST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First things first. Those cowbells are 10 times more annoying in person than they might seem on TV. And we had some clod fan behind the auxiliary press box banging a metal wall nonstop for nine innings. I seem to be more agitated by all the noise than the Philadelphia Phillies were Wednesday night. They came into Tropicana Field and and silenced the Tampa Bay Rays and their fans, 3-2, in a tense opener to the World Series.

Cole Hamels was a stud again, going seven innings, and Chase Utley's two-run homer in the first was all the Phils would need. The Phils went 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position, which you have to think will get better as the series goes on now that they're not coming from a week off.

It would be nice for Ryan Howard to get going too. No postseason home runs and an 0-for-4 night with three strikeouts. Jimmy Rollins was 0 for 5 and ex-Bison Chris Coste didn't do much as the DH by going 0 for 4. The Rays had their own issues with just five hits, three by Aki Iwamura. The last 11 Rays were retired and they had no hits in the final 4 1/3 innings. Pretty impressive Philly pitching.

I picked the Rays. I know a lot of national pundits did too. But the only team in the last 11 years to win the opener and not win the title was the 2002 Giants. So the Phillies have a big leg up.

Huge head start for the Phillies? Big bust for the Rays? Post your thoughts on the opener in the comments section.

---Mike Harrington

(AP Photo: Carlos Ruiz and Brad Lidge celebrate the final out)

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