washington – No time to celebrate the first 30-homer foursome in Philadelphia Phillies history, or the second consecutive good start from Pedro Martinez, or even the end of a four-game losing streak.
There was only one question following Tuesday night’s 5-3 win over the Washington Nationals: Is Brad Lidge still the closer?
Charlie Manuel wasn’t saying for sure, although Lidge seemed to think the job was still his after a postgame meeting between player and manager. The meeting was necessary because – only a few hours after giving Lidge a public vote of confidence – Manuel found himself having to yank Lidge from the game in a ninth inning in which the reliever retired only one of four batters.
“I’m not saying that he’ll close tomorrow, the next day or whatever,” Manuel said, “but I look at him as a closer.”
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Lidge’s take: “If there’s a save situation tomorrow, he said he was going to bring me in.”
Lidge’s struggles stole the spotlight on a milestone night for the franchise. The Phillies got 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-homer seasons.
Former Mariners outfielder Raul Ibañez went long for his 29th and 30th, and Chase Utley hit No. 30, joining Ryan Howard (38) and Jayson Werth in the 30-homer club. Werth hit his 32nd, and Carlos Ruiz got his ninth.
There was also more good stuff from Martinez (4-0), who craftily mixed plenty of offspeed pitches with an occasional low-90s fastball. He allowed three runs and seven hits over 62/3 innings, and the 119 pitches were his most in nearly four years. The Phillies improved to 6-0 when the Martinez 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.”
Brett Myers followed with 1 scoreless innings, but Lidge came on in the ninth and retired one batter amid a single, a hit batter, a wild pitch and a walk.
Manuel then removed Lidge and replaced him with Ryan Madson, who struck out ninth-inning homer specialist Ryan Zimmerman and got cleanup hitter Adam Dunn on a groundout to record his fifth save.