PHILADELPHIA -- Pat Burrell kept taking deep breaths. He looked dazed. Nine seasons playing in this city, for this team -- and finally, he was able to win a championship. And not only did Burrell win a title, he delivered one by crushing a leadoff double in the seventh inning that led to what proved to be the winning run in the Phillies' 4-3 victory over the Rays in Game 5 of the World Series on Wednesday night.
He's a free agent, and after this season he may be gone. But for a night, Burrell was still here in this town -- and he was a champion.
"Too good to be true," the 32-year-old left fielder said. "I'm taking in the moment. … To be able to hand this city a championship, it's something I wouldn't have understood five, six, seven, eight years ago. I'm very proud to be here."
Burrell was one of the first players to run off the field, in search of champagne and more celebration. As he rambled around the clubhouse, he ran into John S. Middleton, one of the Phillies' four limited partners. The two embraced, with Burrell smiling, looking almost as if he were concussed.
"We play in a tough-ass town, and I'm proud of that," Burrell said. "I'm proud to say I play here and behind this city. Just for the fact that they've been behind me. I don't think anybody in here understands this city and the way [it thinks] more than I do. To be able to hand this over to them, this is as good as it gets."
Burrell wasn't the only veteran whose night was made. It began when Geoff Jenkins, in his 11th season but first in Philadelphia after 10 with the Brewers, was told by manager Charlie Manuel 10 minutes before the game that he would be leading off the sixth inning. Jenkins was in the clubhouse when he got the news. Playing in the first postseason of his career this year, Jenkins had gone hitless in his three at-bats this October.
The left-handed-hitting Jenkins figured that even if Rays manager Joe Maddon pulled righty Grant Balfour, he'd stay in and face a lefty. Manuel confirmed as much after the game.
So there was Jenkins, in the fourth postseason at-bat of his life, and he was center stage in this bizarre resumption of a suspended game.
"There's so much excitement in the air being the guy to lead off the game in that moment," he said. "I just told myself relax, get a good pitch to hit -- and Charlie just told me to get the ball down."
He did against Balfour, knocking it to deep center field. It just missed being a home run. Jenkins reached second base and was jubilant, pumping his fists, clapping his hands and releasing all the excitement.
"It was a great moment [for Jenkins]," said Pedro Feliz, in his eighth major league season. "It was his first hit; I'm happy for him, and it came at the right time."
"I hadn't gotten a postseason hit yet and I had like three or four at-bats and I just wanted to do something to help the team," Jenkins said. "And to come through in the clutch situation was huge for me."
It would be Feliz's turn next. Burrell led off the seventh with a double to center field, and a batter later -- with first base open and right-hander Chad Bradford pitching -- the right-handed-hitting Feliz came up. He didn't think he was going to be walked, and he was just trying to be calm.
Burrell and Jenkins had never played in a World Series before, but Feliz had. In 2002, the Angels stormed back against Feliz and the Giants to win the series in Game 7. It wouldn't happen again to the veteran third baseman. He lined a pitch up the middle and pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett came home. As he ran to first base, Feliz pumped his fist.
"There's no words to explain," Feliz said. "I can say it was my best moment in baseball."
As it was for Burrell and Jenkins. The three men have played a combined 28 seasons in the major leagues and each played a key role in Philadelphia's Game 5 victory.
Burrell was the first in the clubhouse and Jenkins was in there soon after, strapping on his goggles and putting on the first of many loops of music. Feliz wore a Hawaiian lei around his neck, thanking God he had finally come out of a World Series a winner.
But Burrell has been in Philadelphia the longest, along with Rollins. The two embraced right near the mound. Burrell said discussions about the offseason would be saved for another time. But he did say one thing, something the fans of Philadelphia can perhaps take some solace in.
"Who knows what's going to happen," he said. "It's going to be hard for me to walk out of this town."
Whatever happens, Burrell knows if he does, it will be as a winner.
Amy K. Nelson is a staff writer for ESPN.com. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.