09/08/09 11:40 PM ET
Phils back Pedro with home-run barrage
Lidge to remain closer, despite Madson earning save
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
But he certainly lost his once firm grip on the job Tuesday in a 5-3 victory over the Nationals at Nationals Park. Lidge loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning. He walked and hit a batter. He threw a wild pitch. He allowed a single. He appeared primed to blow his Major League-leading 11th save of the season.
But Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, just hours after he said Lidge is his closer, pulled him with the game on the line for Ryan Madson.
"Let me tell you something," Manuel said. "When I tell you he's my closer, I don't tell lies. I don't like to go back on nothing. But the team and the game is bigger than my heart, and it's bigger than anything else, if you want to know the truth. Winning a game is what it's all about. It's baseball and why I manage and it's what comes first."
Madson looked great. He struck out Ryan Zimmerman on three pitches and got Adam Dunn to ground out to end the game.
So who closes if there is a save situation Wednesday or Thursday?
Lidge? Madson? Brett Myers?
"He could definitely be [the guy]," Manuel said about Lidge. "I'm definitely not going to get away from him. Let me tell you something: We're going to work with him and we're going to get him back to where he can get consistent and save games. That's how I look at it. I'm not saying that he'll closer tomorrow or the next day or whatever, but I look at him as a closer."
Lidge met Manuel in his office after the game. Lidge said Manuel told him that he would close.
"If there is a save situation tomorrow, he said he was going to bring me in," Lidge said. "Just keep grinding and hopefully this month I'll be able to get it together and be ready for the postseason."
The postseason is less than a month away, and the Phillies have more issues than just Lidge. The offense has been struggling to score for more than a month, and Tuesday they relied on five solo home runs: two from Raul Ibanez and one each from Jayson Werth, Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley.
Ibanez and Utley each reached 30 home runs, making the Phillies just the 12th team in baseball history to have four players with 30 or more homers in a season. Ryan Howard has 38, Werth has 32 and Ibanez and Utley each have 30.
"I left the ball up and I was feeling good today," Nationals left-hander John Lannan said. "They have some pop. I made my pitches and that's what happen. I guess you could say they played home run derby. They are a great hitting team. When you make mistakes like that, it going to hurt and it hurt tonight."
It was the first time since a 6-2 victory over the Mets on Aug. 24 at Citi Field that the Phillies had scored more than four runs.
Phillies right-hander Pedro Martinez (4-0, 3.64 ERA) allowed seven hits, three runs and one walk and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win. He threw 119 pitches, just the second time since Sept. 16, 2003, he has thrown 119 or more pitches, and the first time since Sept. 16, 2005, when he shut out Atlanta.
"I actually felt better as I got going," Martinez said. "And that's a good sign. I still feel good. It's just a matter of time until I get a good game rolling from the get go and hopefully get me eight or nine innings, hopefully one of those games, before we go to the playoffs."
Martinez allowed a run in the first inning to give the Nationals the early lead. The first has been a struggle for Martinez. Opponents have hit .370 (10-for-27) with three homers against him in the first inning this season.
"I have a very good team behind me that I'm pretty sure is going to back me up anytime, and it has backed me up so far," Martinez said. "I'll take my chances."
Manuel, if what Lidge said is accurate, sounds ready to take another chance with Lidge. It could happen Wednesday.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.