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10/16/09 11:00 PM ET

Manuel seeks correct late-inning formula

Skipper mixing and matching with struggling bullpen

LOS ANGELES -- Few people had said a word about the way Charlie Manuel had handled his pitching staff since the Phillies lost Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

Manuel had used starters Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ in that loss to the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park. The moves might have made baseball sense, but because the Phillies lost, they were second-guessed.

But since the Phillies had won their next two games against the Rockies to clinch the NLDS and Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, Manuel looked like he had the Midas touch again.

Phillies at a glance
2009 record: 93-69
2008 record: 92-70
NL East champs
NLCS matchup:
Phillies at Dodgers
Postseason tix: Information

Madson: Back in business
Werth: Heart of the order
Rollins: Awaiting breakout
Focus: One game at a time
Manuel: Mix & match
Howard: Ready for lefties
Stairs: Shot reverberates
Manuel: New rules for 'pen
Blanton: Arm around team
Pedro: Return to spotlight
Ibanez: Eyes on prize
Rollins: '07 irrelevant
Lidge: Still an option
Lidge: Killer cutter
Roster: Mulling options
Ibanez: Perfect fit
Hamels: Path of the pros
Amaro: Bold decisions
Pedro: Elated to play part
Rollins: No more predictions
Hamels: Back in business
Pitching: Staff in flux
Manuel: Keeps 'em focused
Hamels: Aims for dominance
Lineup: Imperfect but solid
Lee: Ready for playoff debut
Howard: The evolution
Rollins: Excelling on defense
Rotation: Not just big two
Manuel: Steady as she goes
Rollins: Eyes on '09 drama
Howard: The 'Big Piece'
Lee: Lifting Phils' hopes

He had mixed and matched his relief pitchers with success. He showed confidence in Brad Lidge, who delivered saves in Colorado and Los Angeles. He put rookie left-hander Antonio Bastardo into big situations. He had right-hander Pedro Martinez start Game 2 of the NLCS, despite the fact he had not pitched since Sept. 30.

"My gut feeling definitely comes into play quite a bit," Manuel said before a 2-1 loss to the Dodgers in Game 2. "During the game I talk to [pitching coach] Rich Dubee a lot. As far as running the game from an offensive standpoint, I really get up into it and I can relax doing that. But with the pitching, I definitely like to stay close to Dubee, and I talk to him a lot during the game, and I think he plays a big part in the moves that we make. He makes suggestions and I make a decision."

Manuel decided to pull Martinez after he threw 87 pitches in seven scoreless innings Friday in Game 2. The right call? The wrong call?

Had Chase Utley not botched his second double play in as many days and the bullpen not walked in the go-ahead run, nobody would have thought much about it.

But because those things happened, Manuel took heat for it.

Manuel said he had no regrets.

"No, not at all," Manuel said. "Pedro went 17 days without pitching. He pitched a heck of a game. It was a hot day and I wasn't even thinking about [leaving him in]. He took us to a point in the game where he pitched a real great game and it was time for him to go." Manuel will have more tough decisions to make this month. He just hopes they go better than they went Friday.

"I call that just the way the game goes," Manuel said. "Those are the things you've got to live with. Sometimes it comes our way, sometimes it goes the other team's way."

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