06/06/09 10:28 PM ET
Lidge loses lead as Phils fall in 12
Manuel backs closer after he allows tying homer in ninth
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
Brad Lidge stared into the distance.
Lidge could not believe what had just happened to him. Werth couldn't believe it, either. Lidge had just allowed a game-tying solo home run to Rafael Furcal with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Werth, who is 6-foot-5, leaped at the wall to try to make the catch. He had the ball in his glove, but his arm hit the wall at the same moment, which jarred the ball loose to fall over the fence.
It was Lidge's second blown save in as many games and sixth of the season. The Dodgers came up with another big hit in the 12th inning when Andre Ethier hit a 3-2 fastball for a solo homer off Chad Durbin for a 3-2 victory.
"The results are starting to frustrate me," Lidge said. "It just seems to be one thing. Tonight, it was the slider he hit. I don't know. I feel good, but I know something needs to change in terms of results. You've just got to get it done, and right now for whatever reason, it's not happening."
Twenty-four hours ago, before Lidge blew a save Friday thanks to a two-out error from Pedro Feliz that should have ended the game, most everybody would have said Lidge had turned a corner. After he blew back-to-back saves against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium late last month, he was perfect in five save opportunities since. In 4 2/3 innings, he had allowed just one hit and one walk. He had struck out five. Opponents had hit just .077 against him.
But combine Friday's fiasco with Furcal's homer Saturday, and suddenly everybody is asking questions about Lidge again.
"He'll always be my guy," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "His stuff is good. There's nothing wrong with his stuff. His stuff is good."
Dodgers manager Joe Torre agreed, although he said Lidge's location has not been as good as last season, when he had 48 saves in 48 opportunities, including the postseason.
"It has to be location," Torre said. "Last year, he was unhittable. I don't know if anybody has gone as perfect as he did last year. But human beings play this game. His stuff looks good. It looks quality. He makes good pitches. Right now, he's just going through a bad streak."
Lidge is 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA and 13 saves in 19 opportunities in 28 appearances this season.
His ERA is the seventh highest in baseball among relief pitchers.
His 68.4 percent save percentage is the lowest in baseball among closers with at least 10 save opportunities.
"It seems like it," Lidge said, asked if he is not getting the breaks he got last season. "You've got to be careful not to be negative. If you're pessimistic in your mind, that can hurt you. It's one of the reasons why I'll continue to stay optimistic. Last year, obviously, the breaks went with me and this year they're not. Right now, whether that be based on not executing pitches or an error or whatever the case might be, it's not going good. The only thing I know is to keep grabbing the ball and throw through it."
Manuel didn't flinch when asked about Lidge's status.
He is his man.
"I think it's important for him to keep his confidence," Manuel said. "I think the opposite of how some other people think. My way of thinking is if you rest him or do something else with him or put him somewhere else, I think that can hurt his confidence. I'm speaking right from my heart. That's how I look at it because I played 20 years. I think I do know a little bit about it. His stuff is still good."
That is what perplexes Lidge the most.
He hasn't been walking hitters. He believes his stuff has been good.
He can't pinpoint one problem to solve.
"I think sometimes you would," he said when asked if he would rather have something he could pinpoint. "If there is something you could say, 'Yeah, I keep walking the leadoff hitter and they're getting him in,' or, 'I don't feel as confident with my stuff and as a result I'm walking guys.' But maybe I shouldn't feel so confident. I don't know. Fortunately, that's the only way I know how to do it.
"It's kind of a bad combination of stuff right now. That being said, you can say whatever you want about it, at some point you've got to get the results. That's what I'm shooting for. If you don't get any breaks, you've still got to get it done. That's what I'm going to make myself do."
Lidge's blown save wasted a fine effort from Joe Blanton and a clutch pinch-hit at-bat from Matt Stairs in the seventh inning.
Blanton allowed five hits and one run in six innings to put himself in line for the win.
Stairs ripped a two-out single to right field in the seventh inning to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.