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Just like all season, Lidge nails it down


Just like all season, Lidge nails it down
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Brad Lidge dropped to his knees and raised his arms in the air, screaming "We did it!" Catcher Carlos Ruiz ran out and leaped into Lidge's arms and, starting with a big tackle from Ryan Howard, everyone piled on.

Just like he did all season, Mr. Perfect nailed down another save. This was the biggest one of all.

Lidge closed out Philadelphia's 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Wednesday night's completion of a suspended Game 5, securing the Phillies' second World Series title in the franchise's 126-year history.

"It's a boyhood dream and honestly, you don't dare to think about it," Lidge said, his eyes stinging from the champagne and his World Series champions T-shirt drenched from the bubbly. "You just hope one day it'll come true."

Pinch yourself, Brad. You're not dreaming.

Lidge, 41-for-41 in save chances during the regular season, earned his seventh save in as many tries in the postseason by pitching out of trouble in the ninth.

He retired Evan Longoria on a popup leading off the inning, but Dioner Navarro singled. Pinch-runner Fernando Perez stole second before Ben Zobrist lined out to right for the second out. Lidge then struck out Eric Hinske swinging on a nasty slider to end it.

"I see Carlos' glove pick up the ball, and then I know we struck him out and I just couldn't believe it," Lidge said. "I didn't know how to react and I fell to my knees and thanked God."

A crowd of 44,000-plus fans who returned to Citizens Bank Park two days after this game started were biting their fingernails - or gloves in the bitter cold - with the tying run on second base.

Even general manager Pat Gillick thought maybe Lidge was due to finally blow one.

"I thought the law of averages would catch up with our closer tonight, but he hung in there and did a great job," Gillick said.

It was fitting that Lidge got the last out. The Phillies wouldn't have gotten this far without the closer who was exiled from Houston - and the rest of their stellar relievers.

"It's unbelievable, unheard of what he did this season," setup man Ryan Madson said. "If he's not perfect, we're in a predicament."

The bullpen led the NL in ERA (3.22) and winning percentage (.589) during the regular season, and was even better in the playoffs. They were the biggest reason the Phillies were 89-0 this year when leading after eight innings - including 10 postseason wins.

Before coming to Philadelphia, Lidge was best remembered for allowing that mammoth homer to St. Louis' Albert Pujols in the 2005 NL championship series.

"That's behind him," Phillies starter Jamie Moyer said. "We can all put that away and talk about the good that he's done. He's had a perfect season. I don't think there's any reason to dwell on the past."

Lidge was rejuvenated with the Phillies. He was 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA and saved each of his 48 opportunities.

J.C. Romero, who got the win in Game 5, made sure Lidge had a chance to save this one, getting four outs. He allowed a leadoff single to Carl Crawford in the eighth, but got B.J. Upton to ground into a double play.

Madson, solid throughout the postseason, gave up Rocco Baldelli's tying homer with one out in the seventh after the Phillies had taken a 3-2 lead. But Romero and Lidge slammed the door and the party was on.

"It had to be won here," Lidge said. "The fans deserve it. It had to be here. You go through a lot to be in this position. I wouldn't change anything in my career. It got me all right here, right now. This is the best it'll ever be."


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 30, 2008

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