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The End: Yankees 7, Phillies 3

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A wild seven-month ride came to a dispiriting conclusion in the Bronx Wednesday night as the Phillies fell to the New York Yankees by a 7-3 score, falling in the World Series by four games to two.  

If they had to go down, this wasn't the way you'd draw it up: done in by myriad self-inflicted wounds including a subpar Pedro Martinez start, bad at-bats against a less than overpowering Andy Pettitte, the painfully baffling move to bring in Chad Durbin with the game still within reach at 4-1 in the fifth inning, and a near-total inability to retireHideki Matsui, who celebrated his return to the lineup with the DH back in play by driving in six runs in his first three at-bats. Matsui started the scoring with a two-run homer in the second inning off Pedro, who battled as always but just didn't have his good stuff in his last and biggest start of the season. After the Phils got one run back in the top of the third on a Carlos Ruiz triple and Jimmy Rollins sac fly, Matsui drove in two more in the bottom of the inning with a bases-loaded single to put the Yankees ahead 4-1.

The game took on an air of inevitability after Charlie Manuel, in his last and arguably worst questionable move of the Series, brought in Durbin to start the fifth. Derek Jeter started the inning with a ground rule double, and after Jerry Hairston Jr. moved him to third, came around to score on a Mark Teixeira single. After walking Alex Rodriguez, Durbin gave way to J.A. Happ, who surrendered a two-run double to Matsui that made it 7-1.

The Phils did chase Pettitte a half-inning later, as Chase Utley worked a one-out walk and Ryan Howard hit his first home run of the Series, a two-run shot that barely cleared the wall in left. Two batters later, Raul Ibanez doubled with two outs, and Pettitte left in favor of Joba Chamberlain, who retired Pedro Feliz to end the inning. In the seventh, the Phils had their last real shot: Ruiz, who turned in another great game, singled with one out. He was forced at second by Jimmy Rollins, but Shane Victorino walked to bring up Chase Utley. Joe Girardi called on Damaso Marte, who struck out Utley on three pitches to retire the side. 

After Marte started the eighth by striking out Howard--the record-setting 13th K of the Series for the Phils slugger--Mariano Rivera came in, as everyone knew he would. He struck out Jayson Werth, but allowed another double to Ibanez before Feliz once again ended the inning. In the ninth, Ruiz tried to spark one last rally, walking with one out. Rollins followed with a long flyout to the track in right field. Victorino came up as the Phillies' last hope and kept it alive through one last long at-bat, working the count full after fouling off a bunch of tough pitches before grounding to Robinson Cano for the final out.  

Congrats to the Yankees, 2009 world champions--and to the Phillies, who won 102 games and a second straight National League title.  The disappointment will fade, but the good memories this team gave us should endure.