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Brad Lidge was on the verge of blowing his eleventh save. Almost. When the lead-off runner reaches base, trouble is ahead. This time Charlie Manuel lost his patience and pulled Lidge. But would Ryan Madson escape the bases-loaded, one out jam with Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn due up?
Before the ninth inning drama, Pedro Martinez pitched another gem. A strike away from finishing the seventh inning, Martinez allowed a solo home run to Willie Harris. Manuel called to the 'pen, but Martinez made the best of his 119 pitches. In 6.2 innings, he allowed three runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out four.
Once again, the offense started slowly. The bats would wake up. Raul Ibanez loves to beat up the Nats. He homered to put the Phillies on the board in the fifth inning. In the seventh, Jayson Werth hit his 32nd home run of the year. Ibanez homered again, going back-to-back with Werth. Not only did Ibanez's two homers give the Phillies the lead, but they upped his home run total to 30. After Pedro Feliz grounded out, Carlos Ruiz homered. The Phillies hit three home runs in the seventh inning. For the first time in 70 innings, the Phillies had a lead larger than one run.
The lead didn't last long thanks to Harris' homer, but Chase Utley returned the favor with a solo shot down the right field line. Like Ibanez, the homer was Utley's 30th of the year. The Phillies now have four players with at least 30 homers (Ryan Howard, Werth, Ibanez, Utley).
All of the Phillies five runs came on solo home runs. The last time the Phillies had five solo home runs in a game was in 1999.
Then it became interesting. Charlie Manuel has made it clear that Brad Lidge is his closer. He may have finally changed his mind. Lidge loaded the bases with one out. The eventual outcome was pretty obvious. Manuel had enough, and made the call to Ryan Madson. Madson fired 96 mph fastballs before striking out Zimmerman on a changeup. Adam Dunn hit a grounder into the shift to end the game. Phillies win, 5-3. Pedro collected the win, and Madson recorded the save.
For the first time in September, the Phillies scored more than four runs. The Phillies halted their four game losing streak, but the question remains: has Charlie lost his faith in his closer?