There weren't two million-plus fans and he wasn't riding a wagon pulled by Clydesdales, but Pat Burrell was given a fitting send-off by the Phillies and their faithful tonight.

The last time Philadelphia had seen Burrell, the leftfielder was leading the World Series parade down Broad Street.

But Burrell was the longest-tenured Phillie then, although his days seemed numbered. Now he's with the Tampa Bay Rays - World Series runners-up - who were ironically at Citizens Bank Park for the first of two exhibition games.

"They told me, 'We got two exhibition games in Philly,' " said Burrell, who signed with the Rays in the off-season as a free agent. "I said, 'You got to be kidding me.' I couldn't believe it. . . . Ever since I found out we were coming up here I've been looking forward to it."

Before the first pitch, there was a video presentation with clips spanning Burrell's career - from his first game to his parting words at the parade's stadium conclusion. Burrell watched the jumbo screen from a new vantage point - the visitor's dugout - and upon the conclusion of the highlights emerged from underground to acknowledge a standing ovation.

"I've thought about it," Burrell said of the reception a few hours before the game. When the Rays visited the Phils during spring training, Burrell was given a warm greeting. "The thing in Clearwater was pretty cool," he said. "I didn't expect that. I've seen Scott Rolen come in here a couple of times."

Rolen, who groused his way out of Philly in 2002, has been routinely booed. Burrell had his struggles over nine seasons as a Phillie, but he never publicly moaned about his treatment. Mostly, the difficult-to-appease Phils fans supported the home-grown Burrell.

"I think for the most part it's been a pretty good relationship, even the years where I didn't play well," Burrell said. "I can remember the one time I pinch-hit and hit a double and they decided to give a standing ovation.

"The game was completely out of reach, it didn't mean anything. But they were pulling for me. I have a lot of respect for the fans here."

An announced crowd of 39,338 welcomed the defending World Series champions back from Clearwater, Fla. The Phillies thanked them with another win over the Rays - a 3-2 come-from-behind victory.

Of course, tonight's exhibition meant nothing. That fateful game those two clubs played over two days in late October meant everything. But from the two teams, the result, the chilly night and the blissful fans, there was a sense of déjà vu.

"It was kind of weird walking in, I'll admit that," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Coming down that hallway it feels like no time has elapsed at all."

Burrell wearing a different uniform, though, proved the earth has moved many times. Upon his first at-bat, in his new role as the designated hitter, he received another standing-O. He tipped his cap and promptly ripped an RBI single up the middle. The majority cheered, although nowhere near as loud as after his last plate appearance in a Phils uniform.

In the World Series clincher, Burrell roped a long double in the seventh inning of a 3-3 tie. He was pulled for Eric Bruntlett, who eventually scored the game-winning run.

Now with the Rays, he concedes the new position and change of scenery has been an adjustment. Burrell lived downtown and was frequently seen about the city.

"I'm going to miss being downtown," he said.

Burrell met with many of his former teammates and coaches before warmups. There were plenty of handshakes and hugs.

"We're going to miss Pat," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said. "If he had to leave, I'm glad he's in the American League. At the same time, life goes on for Pat and it goes on for the Phillies."

The Phils open their quest to repeat tomorrow at home against the Atlanta Braves at 8:07. The team will receive their World Series rings on Wednesday. Burrell, again by coincidence, will be able to attend because the Rays aren't playing in Boston until the evening.

"If we had had a day game in Boston I just would not have been able to come," Burrell said. "Luckily it worked out this way."

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745