CINCINNATI -- Everybody who has watched the Phillies this season knows that left-hander Antonio Bastardo has been a savior.
He is 6-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 55 appearances. He has allowed just 19 hits, eight runs and 19 walks in 52 1/3 innings. He has struck out 65. Opponents have hit just .112 against him.
He got Joey Votto to hit into an inning-ending double play in the seventh inning of Thursday's 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. He then struck out the side in the eighth inning.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he hasn't seen a season like this from a reliever since Brad Lidge went 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA and 41 saves in 41 opportunities in 2008.
"I can't say enough about him," Manuel said of Bastardo. "He's had a big year. Bastardo to me is outstanding -- one of the better years I've seen a lefty have."
Forget lefties. Bastardo is having one of the best seasons for a relief pitcher ever.
His .112 opponents' batting average? It currently is the lowest in baseball history for any pitcher with 50 or more innings in a season. Eric Gagne held opponents to a .133 average in 2003, which is the second-best in baseball history.
"It's crazy how dominating he's been," Lidge said. "I've been in a lot of bullpens, with a lot of good pitchers and I don't think I've ever seen anyone doing what he's doing right now."
"He's always had an invisi-ball," Vance Worley said. "It was just a matter of time before he came up here and got to show what he can do. He's doing what he needs to do."
The Phillies hope Bastardo keeps it up. They will need him in the postseason.
"I feel strong," he said.
Lee leads informal rotation hitting competition
CINCINNATI -- The Phillies have less than a month to play before the postseason, which means it's time to catch up on the rotation's hitting competition.
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt have been in a hitting contest since the beginning of the season, with bench coach Pete Mackanin serving as judge and jury. He awards a point for every sacrifice bunt, hit, RBI, quality at-bat (an at-bat of five or more pitches) and hard-hit balls. He deducts a point for every failed bunt, double play and more. He also awards one-third bonus points for good base running and anything else he deems fit.
For example, Mackanin deducted a full point from Lee's total for not running to first base in Wednesday's 3-0 victory over the Reds.
"Got to run," Mackanin said. "Normally, he always busts his tail down there."
So the tally heading into September?
Drum roll ...
Lee leads with 37 1/3 points, which is not a surprise. He is followed by Hamels (33 1/3), Halladay (31) and Oswalt (21).
Polanco rested in finale against Reds
CINCINNATI -- Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco got a chance to rest in Thursday's series finale against the Cincinnati Reds.
Polanco is playing with a sports hernia injury. He started his first seven games back, although he had some natural breaks because of a day off last Thursday and rainouts over the weekend in Philadelphia.
He is hitting .290 (9-for-31) with one RBI, three walks and five strikeouts since his return on Aug. 22.
The Phillies finished Thursday's series finale against the Cincinnati Reds a season-high 41 games over .500 (87-46). That is their best mark since they finished 101-61 in 1977. The Phillies have never been better than 41 games over .500, and they have never finished a season more than 40 games over .500.
This is only the second time in franchise history the Phillies have been in first place on May 1, June 1, July 1, the All-Star break, Aug. 1 and Sept. 1. It also happened in 1993.
The Phillies have established the Dallas Green Scout of the Year Award, which will be awarded for the first time later this month.
Each year, the organization will honor the amateur or professional scout who "best exemplifies the Phillies' standard for scouting while demonstrating the same loyalty, work ethic, dedication and passion as the award's namesake."
The award will recognize the scout's ability to judge not only a player's talent, but also their character and heart. The Phillies will announce the first recipient of the award in a ceremony during the final homestand of the season.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.