Bullpen gives Phillies chance to rally
Lidge and Co. stifle Dodgers, set stage for walk-off win
PHILADELPHIA -- Brad Lidge had seen 473 days and eight losses since his previous victory.
But the Phillies' beleaguered closer could stand proud on Monday, the beneficiary of the Phillies' 5-4 walk-off victory over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.
Lidge and his fellow relievers -- supposedly the club's Achilles' heel -- put up zeros for the final three innings, while the Dodgers, who posted the best bullpen ERA in the Majors, fell when closer Jonathan Broxton blew a one-run lead in the ninth.
"I lost my voice a little bit, actually, screaming so loud," said Lidge, now 1-0. "It's very special."
Joe Blanton lasted six innings in his first start since Oct. 2, throwing 105 pitches and forcing manager Charlie Manuel to get valuable outs from less trusted arms.
But Chan Ho Park, Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre and Lidge all did their jobs. There were minor hiccups along the way, but the work of those four set the stage for Jimmy Rollins' two-run walk-off double.
"In close games like that, it's very important that we hold them," Manuel said. "That keeps us within striking distance and that gives us a chance."
Coming off a loss in Game 2, when he allowed two runs in one-third of an inning, Park had a quick seventh inning Monday. He got a groundout from Rafael Furcal, struck out Matt Kemp and walked Andre Ethier -- who was thrown out trying to steal second.
Madson, who in Game 1 allowed two runs on four hits in one inning, struck out Manny Ramirez to lead off the eighth. Two Dodgers reached base, but with two outs, Madson fanned Casey Black to escape the jam.
Eyre retired one of the two switch-hitters he faced, which set the stage for Lidge and his 7.21 regular-season ERA. But in these playoffs, Lidge has appeared in four games, allowing one hit and zero runs over three innings. He had notched three saves before securing the win Monday.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee has said that when Lidge is pitching well, he is throwing his fastball for strikes, using the mid-90s heater to set up his devastating slider.
That was the recipe in Game 4. He threw six fastballs to Kemp, who struck out on a 95-mph one down and away. Then he started off Ethier with a cutter -- a new pitch he unveiled in late September -- before turning to his slider for strike two and, ultimately, a called strike three.
"He did a heck of a job," Manuel said. "Every guy down there did their job, really. Our bullpen did a tremendous job."
The other Phillies know, too, that they would not have been able to pile on top of Rollins behind third base or toast to him in the clubhouse if not for the relievers' work.
"Oh, it was huge," first baseman Ryan Howard said. "For them to go out there and get the holds and keep us in the game, and give us the opportunity to go out there and for Jimmy to win the game in the ninth, it was huge."
David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.