DENVER Ryan Madson was excused from Wednesdays game to be with his wife as she prepared to give birth in Los Angeles. The Phillies kept this news under wraps until after the game because they did not want the Colorado Rockies to know that the hard-throwing closer was unavailable.
Call it strategic secrecy.
Lidge, who was raised in suburban Denver, locked down the win for another Denver-area native, Roy Halladay.
The win was Halladays National League-leading 14th.
The save was Lidges 100th (in the regular season) as a Phillie. Forty-one of them came in a rather memorable 2008 season.
Im pretty proud of this one, said Lidge, who had been working his way back in a setup role after shoulder and elbow problems kept him out for the first 97 games. Its nice to do it at home.
The victory improved the Phillies to a season-high 32 games over .500 as they head to San Francisco for four games against the defending World Series champion Giants. San Francisco beat the Phillies in the National League Championship Series last year and took two of three in Philadelphia last week. That was the Phillies only series loss in the last 12.
So, are the Phillies looking for a little payback in this one?
Obviously you want to win the games, Halladay said. But you have to do it when it matters most or youre not going to get even. The end of the season is when it counts.
Manager Charlie Manuel is primed for the series.
Beat em, Manuel said. Thats what we attach to every series. Were going to get em sooner or later. I know we can hit em. Whether we do or not is up to us.
The Phillies scored just two runs both were unearned in losing two straight to the Giants last week. Since then, the Phils have won six straight games and scored 40 runs, an average of more than six per game. They have added Hunter Pence to the No. 5 spot in the batting order and Ryan Howard has caught fire at the plate.
It should be a fun series, Howard said. The crowd is always rowdy there.
Howard had an interesting game Wednesday. He made a double-error which cost Halladay a run in the first inning.
In the dugout after inning, Howard sought out Halladay.
My bad, the first baseman told the pitcher.
I knew he didnt feel good about it, Halladay said. But you know hes out there giving everything he has. He ended up making a big difference in the game.
Indeed, he did.
Howard doubled in two runs in the second and followed with a two-run homer in the sixth, his 24th. Howard has four homers and nine RBIs in his last five games all with Pence hitting behind him.
Im slowing things down and getting good balls to hit, Howard said.
Howard said he was seeing more fastballs since Pence arrived. Manuel believes his cleanup man is simply showing more patience. Somewhere in there is reason for Phillies fans to believe that Howard can do some damage in the series. He was 0 for 8 in the two losses against the Giants last week.
Howards bat helped propel Halladay to the win on a day when he struggled to command his sinker and cutter in the light Denver air.
At times I just tried to throw it over the middle of the plate because I wasnt sure what direction it was going to go, he said.
Halladay gave up four runs in the first four innings. That was more runs than he gave up in his previous two starts.
He battled and took us to a place in the game where we got some runs and could get the win, Manuel said.
Big-time players find a way.
Halladay doesnt mind occasionally bobbing and weaving his way to a win.
Sometimes these games give you the best feeling afterward because you know it wasnt easy, he said. Today was definitely a grind, but you like the challenge.