Phillies bullpen continues to dominate
Lidge and crew have been lights-out in postseason
PHILADELPHIA -- It wasn't just the Phillies who made it 2-for-2 in the National League Championship Series on Friday night. Closer Brad Lidge, following a perfect ninth in Game 1, closed out an 8-5 victory in Game 2 by sliding around two walks to beat the Dodgers.
Oh, sure, he was careful with Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez, who hit a three-run homer off Brett Myers in the fourth inning, putting him aboard with a five-pitch walk to start the ninth. But he followed that up by blowing away Andre Ethier on three sliders.
No Lidge save would be complete without a walk to the ledge, however, and he provided just that by walking James Loney in a tough seven-pitch at-bat to put two men on with one out. As the raucous Phillies crowd -- standing, screaming and waving white rally towels -- started squirming around in their seats, Lidge got back to business. Sticking with the money pitch that notched him 45 consecutive saves without a blemish this season, he threw five straight sliders to whiff Matt Kemp for out No. 2.
That brought third baseman Nomar Garciaparra to the plate and -- yes, you guessed it -- three nasty sliders later, it was K No. 3 and win No. 2, as the Phillies packed a 2-0 lead in their suitcases and headed to Los Angeles for three games at Dodger Stadium, starting on Sunday.
They do so thanks, in no small measure, to Lidge and his bullpen, all of whom were stellar again in Game 2. In the two games, the NL's best bullpen has thrown six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and three walks and striking out six.
"It's tough to get to this part of the season, part of the year, without having a bullpen," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "And I'm not only talking a closer, I'm talking about people who can bridge that gap, because very rarely do you see guys going out there pitching eight or nine innings.
"And the toughest to get through are the sixth and part of the seventh, and you usually have a formula to get past that. But they have some impressive people coming out of that bullpen, there's no question."
The Phillies' formula for Game 2 was Chad Durbin, who got them through the sixth, followed by J.C. Romero, who converted two outs in the seventh. Ryan Madson, who had thrown a perfect eighth inning in Game 1, came on to get the last out of the seventh and pitched a clean eighth to set up Lidge.
And from there, the closer was able to slide the Phillies to a 2-0 lead in the NLCS.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.