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10/26/08 4:14 AM EST

Moyer relishes first World Series start

After struggling in first two rounds, lefty rebounds in Fall Classic

PHILADELPHIA -- Jamie Moyer strode slowly as he made his way from the pitcher's mound at Citizens Bank Park to the Phillies' dugout on Saturday night.

The 45-year-old was soaking it all in, looking up at the cheering Phillies fans and touching the brim of his cap in acknowledgement.

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Two forgettable postseason starts for Moyer were put completely in the rearview mirror, as the veteran left-hander pitched Philadelphia to within two wins of its first World Series title in 28 years.

"I think it was very uplifting to walk across the field, even through the puddles, and hear the excitement of the fans," Moyer said after the Phillies' 5-4 victory against the Rays in Game 3. "I try not to get caught up in it, but I do hear it."

Moyer's Major League career has spanned 22 years and seven teams. But, until Saturday night, it had not included a single World Series appearance.

"It exceeded every expectation or every thought or every dream that I had," Moyer said.

The southpaw ensured that his first time on the mound for the Fall Classic would be memorable, limiting the Rays to only three runs on five hits over 6 1/3 solid innings. Moyer sustained early adversity, allowing a leadoff double in the second to Carl Crawford, who went on to score the Rays' first run.

But after that, the left-hander kept the Rays' young lineup guessing. Between the third and sixth innings, Moyer allowed only two hits and struck out four.

"He was so comfortable," said catcher Carlos Ruiz, who delivered the game-winning hit in the ninth. "We had a good plan for Tampa. The key, I think, was the tempo. We worked a little quicker today than in the last couple games."

Moyer had struggled on the mound in his only two postseason starts of 2008. In the National League Division Series against the Brewers, Moyer lasted just four innings, giving up two runs. In his NL Championship Series start against the Dodgers, he didn't make it out of the second inning, allowing six earned runs.

But Moyer also said that the increased tempo of Saturday's game helped him keep the Rays in check.

"I was able to create that tempo in the bullpen," Moyer said. "And then, I think, the electricity of the crowd here at the ballpark and throwing some early strikes, getting some quick outs, just allowed me to get into the flow of the game early."

Saturday's game ended in a no-decision for Moyer. A win would have made him the oldest pitcher to win a World Series game, eclipsing Detroit's Kenny Rogers, who won Game 2 of the 2006 Fall Classic at the age of 41.

But none of that mattered to Moyer, who watched Ruiz's bases-loaded infield single in the ninth score Eric Bruntlett for the winning run, which was the first walk-off infield hit in World Series history.

"I think I went from my seat to the ceiling," Moyer said. "So I was excited."

Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.