Burrell has hand in triumphant return to Philly

Burrell has hand in triumphant return to Philly

PHILADELPHIA -- Pat Burrell had already been back once before. But this was different. This was October.

Once a fixture in Philadelphia's outfield, Burrell returned to the city he once called home, this time clad in orange and black. The 34-year-old has played 373 games at Citizens Bank Park, though Saturday marked just the fourth in which Burrell has taken the field from the visitor's dugout.

His career appearing revitalized and his future looking much brighter than it did five months ago, Burrell was greeted mostly with cheers by the Philadelphia faithful during pregame introductions. Many of those cheers turned to jeers after the first pitch was thrown, though that hardly sapped the emotions Burrell experienced with this return.

"I spent a lot of time here and have some really great memories, was a part of something real special," said Burrell, who was a part of Philadelphia's 2008 world championship club. "It's hard not to think about that when you get out in the field."


Of course, Saturday night wasn't all about the sappy homecoming story. There was a game to be played, one with much higher stakes than the August series that brought Burrell to Philadelphia for the first time since he left as a free agent after the '08 season.

And as it turned out, Burrell played a critical role in the Giants' 4-3, Game 1 win.

"I'm not saying it's easy to not think about some of the things that have happened to you while you're here, but I'm on a new team and the same goal, you know, to win," Burrell said. "Once the anthem's over, it's time to go out there and compete."

Burrell's sixth-inning double padded San Francisco's one-run lead and furthered a two-out rally that led to the Giants holding a 4-1 advantage by the end of the frame.

The hit was Burrell's third this postseason, as he has now driven in four. It didn't come without a hint of controversy, however, as Roy Halladay seemed plenty certain that his previous pitch -- an 0-2 fastball -- caught enough of the plate that the inning should have been over without Burrell ever taking a cut.

"Yeah, I did," Halladay said when asked if he thought the 0-2 pitch was a strike. "But that's part of it. There were obviously calls that they wanted, too. It's part of the game. If you don't get a pitch, you have to make a pitch on the next one."

Burrell's take?

"Well, it was a ball," he said. "I don't know. I haven't checked."

As for Burrell, his contributions to a Giants club trying to advance to the World Series for the first time since 2002 simply make the story of his season that much more compelling. Released by the Rays less than two months into the season because of his ineffectiveness, Burrell now finds himself three San Francisco wins away from a second World Series appearance in three years.

"You know, obviously starting on a different team and having it turn out the way it did is not what you hoped for," Burrell said. "[The] Giants gave me an opportunity to come out here and play, and I just tried to make the most of it."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.