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September 10, 2009

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Phils win despite Lidge's struggles

THE Philadelphia Phillies have four 30-homer hitters for the first time and a revitalized Pedro Martinez.

Now if they could only figure out what to do about Brad Lidge.

The Phillies broke a four-game losing streak on Tuesday night, beating the Washington Nationals 5-3 with a long-ball milestone and another solid outing from Martinez, but manager Charlie Manuel was hardly in a celebratory mood after having to yank his closer in the ninth inning.

"It was a tough thing for me to do," Manuel said.

Only a few hours after getting Manuel's public vote of confidence, Lidge retired only one of the four batters he faced. Manuel called on Ryan Madson to finish the game, and Madson responded by retiring the heart of the Nationals order - Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn - to earn his fifth save.

So is Lidge still the closer?

"He could definitely be," Manuel said. "I'm definitely not going to get away from him. We're going to work with him and get him back to where he can get consistent and go out there and save games. I'm not saying that he'll close tomorrow, the next day or whatever, but I look at him as a closer. I don't look at him as a seventh-inning guy; I don't look at him as an eighth-inning guy."

Interestingly, Lidge, who has 10 blown saves this year after a perfect 2008, had a different take after meeting with the manager after the game. "If there's a save situation tomorrow, he said he was going to bring me in."

Lidge converted all 48 of his save chances last year and was signed to a three-year extension midway the 2008 season. His record this year is 0-7 with a 7.11 ERA. He has allowed 60 hits in 50 2/3 innings and walked 32. Last season, he allowed two home runs in 69 1/3 innings. This year, he has given up 11.

Elsewhere in the National League, it was: Cubs 9, Pirates 4; Marlins 4, Mets 2; Braves 2, Astros 1; Cardinals 4, Brewers 3; Rockies 3, Reds 1; Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 4; and Padres 4, Giants 3.

In the American League, it was: Rangers 11, Indians 9 (first game); Rangers 10, Indians 5 (second game); Yankees 3, Rays 2; Blue Jays 6, Twins 3; Red Sox 10, Orioles 0; Royals 7, Tigers 5; Athletics 11, White Sox 3; and Angels 3, Mariners 2 (in 10 innings).

In Washington, the Phillies scored all of their runs on five solo homers - including three in the seventh inning - and became the 12th team in major league history to have four players with 30 or more in a single season.

Raul Ibanez hit his 29th and 30th, and Chase Utley got No. 30, joining Ryan Howard (38) and Jayson Werth, who had his 32nd, in the 30-homer club. Carlos Ruiz his ninth.

There was also more good stuff from Martinez (4-0), who craftily mixed plenty of off-speed pitches with an occasional low-90s fastball. He allowed three runs and seven hits over 6 2/3 innings, and the 119 pitches were his most in nearly four years.

The Phillies improved to 6-0 when the three-time Cy Young Award winner starts.

"I felt better as I got going, and that's a good sign," Martinez said. "It's just a matter of time before I get a good game going from the get-go and hopefully get me eight or nine innings."


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