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10/30/09 2:20 AM EST

Girardi pushes the right buttons

Yankees' skipper silences second-guessers on Thursday

NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi has spent a large portion of his season deflecting second-guessing from all corners, which is to be expected when the desk nameplate identifies you as the manager of baseball's highest-profile franchise.

Even 7-year-old Dante Girardi has entered the act, looking into Dad's eyes and asking why he pulled the trigger on certain moves this year. Since the elder Girardi has started to hear questions at home, few things can shock him at the office.

In Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday, the Yankees' skipper seemed to push all the right buttons, satisfying even the harshest critics. The lineup decisions to start Jerry Hairston Jr. and Jose Molina against the Phillies both clicked, as the Yankees posted a 3-1 victory.

"Thank God it worked, because if it didn't work, you guys would be killing him," Mariano Rivera told reporters, with a smile. "I stick behind him. He did a tremendous job today."

With regular right fielder Nick Swisher fighting a 4-for-35 (.114) postseason slump, Girardi turned to Hairston, pointing to his strong career numbers against Phillies starter Pedro Martinez.

Detractors disregarded Hairston's 10-for-27 (.370) stats against Martinez, noting that he had not faced him since 2004. But after outs in his first two trips, Hairston came through with a single to start the seventh inning against Martinez that led to a run.

Hairston, who left for pinch-runner Brett Gardner, said that the increased criticism of Girardi's playoff work had been unfair.

"Not every move you're going to make as a manager is going to work," Hairston said. "You just play percentages, and that's what he does. He does have some instincts as well, but as a player, you know Joe takes his time and really judges the situation thoroughly."

Girardi also opted to keep the battery of Molina and A.J. Burnett intact for a 10th consecutive time, including four postseason starts, despite a rocky outing in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.

With Jorge Posada on the bench -- later knocking in a run with a pinch-hit single -- Burnett responded with a crisp seven-inning effort, striking out nine.

2009 World Series
Gm. 1 PHI 6, NYY 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 3, PHI 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 NYY 8, PHI 5 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NYY 7, PHI 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 PHI 8, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 7, PHI 3 Wrap Video

"One thing Joe has been doing a great job of is using his 25-man roster," Alex Rodriguez said. "We pretty much know what's going to happen."

Molina also contributed with a tight snap throw to first base in the fourth inning, throwing around Raul Ibanez to catch Jayson Werth too far off the bag and put the brakes on the frame after a leadoff hit.

"It was a lucky shot," Molina said. "[Werth] was a little bit off the bag, and if the ball is in the dirt, he'd try to advance. Because [Ibanez] was a left-handed hitter, I don't think he saw me catching the ball, and he never expected me to throw the ball to first. He was far from the bag.

"I think it was lucky, but sometimes it's better to be lucky than good."

Girardi also called on Rivera for a six-out save chance instead of dipping into his troubled bullpen.

The future Hall of Fame closer induced a Chase Utley double play to end the eighth inning and pitched around an Ibanez double in the ninth to even the World Series at 1-1, making Girardi's button-pushing decisions shine.

"As a player, that's all you can ask for," Hairston said. "Obviously in the postseason, it gets magnified. As players in this clubhouse, we trust his decisions."

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