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Blasts and bullpen deliver for Phils

Blasts and bullpen deliver for Phils
DENVER - Chad Durbin was the only one. Every Phillies reliever except Durbin had enjoyed an excellent first week of the season, helping the Phillies maintain a 2-3 record in the absence of a single quality outing from their starting pitchers.Yesterday, the bullpen once again kept the Phillies competitive, pitching 52/3 scoreless innings before two-run homers by Chase Utley in the eighth and Matt Stairs in the ninth delivered a 7-5 win over Colorado. The comeback would not have been possible without the steadying performances of a resurgent Durbin and four other relievers."Our bullpen did a heck of a job," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We stayed with it, we kept them close and we hung on to win the game."Last year, the bullpen's earned run average of 3.22 was the best in the National League, and Brad Lidge famously converted all of his save opportunities.

Durbin, J.C. Romero, Clay Condrey, and Ryan Madson contributed stellar middle- and late-inning work.Through the first six games of this season, with the offense intermittent and starting pitching shaky, the Phillies' relief corps has again been crucial, allowing the team to maintain a .500 record by limiting damage during three comeback wins.The Phils received another abysmal start yesterday, this one from Chan Ho Park, who allowed five runs in 31/3 innings. When Park was lifted in the fourth, manager Charlie Manuel summoned Durbin to hold the Colorado lead to 5-2. When Durbin left the game in the sixth, the Phillies trailed, 5-3.Before yesterday, Durbin, 31, had allowed four runs in his first two innings this season, while Lidge, Madson, Condrey, Scott Eyre, Jack Taschner, and J.A. Happ had all been mostly effective. Durbin had missed about two weeks in early March with a strained hamstring, and both he and pitching coach Rich Dubee cited that layoff as a factor in Durbin's performance."Repetitions are what it's all about, and two weeks of not throwing off the mound set me back," Durbin said.He spent the last several days scrutinizing video of his performances and consulting teammates and Dubee. Finally, a suggestion from the coach seemed to identify the problem: Durbin's delivery featured too much movement in his legs, head and arms, or as Dubee put it: "It was not quiet enough."Durbin said that an unquiet delivery can be the result of trying to throw the ball too hard, a common issue in the early season. Before full arm strength is achieved and pitchers lack their best fastball, they sometimes overthrow, resulting in flawed mechanics."When your delivery is not quiet, it's herky-jerky," Durbin said. "The more movement you have in your delivery, the more room for error there is. I thought I was a lot quieter out there today. You're always working to fix something."That particular fix set the Phillies' only struggling reliever on track and put the team in a position to win yesterday's game. Eyre, Condrey, Madson, and Lidge then dominated the Rockies. The Phils' bullpen, savior of a sometimes difficult first week of the season, has allowed six hits and seven runs in 24 innings.Park was perhaps the most appreciative. "Those bullpen guys picked me up big time," he said. "[The Rockies] beat me, but they couldn't beat us."Contact staff writer Andy Martino at 215-854-4874 or

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Added: April 13, 2009

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