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Late Heroics


Late Heroics
WASHINGTON - The Phillies continued playing their Baseball version of the old carnival game Whac-A-Mole last night at Nationals Park, where they managed to pull out a 10-6 win over Washington in 12 innings.

They used the mallet to chase one bad habit underground, only to see another one spring to the surface.

Three of the players at the top of the lineup who had been enduring dreadful slumps rose up when it counted in the seventh inning to rub out a 3-1 deficit. Jimmy Rollins looked liked a leadoff hitter. Shane Victorino got a hit after going 1 for 30. And Ryan Howard, who had three hits in his previous 23 at-bats, drilled a three-run homer over the center-field fence to give them a 6-4 lead.

For one inning, the Phils got that part right.

But it is time for the Phillies to be seriously concerned about Brad Lidge, if they already weren't. Instead of closing out the game, Lidge opened the way for the Nationals to go into extra innings when he served up a two-run double with two outs to pinch-hitter Willie Harris in the ninth inning. That tied the game, 6-6.

Afterward, manager Charlie Manuel expressed confidence that Lidge would turn things around.

"He's still got the same stuff, and the way I look at it, I got confidence in him and we've got to get him right. He's still got a 95-, 97-mile-an-hour fastball. He's still got that slider," Manuel said after a game that went on for 4 hours, 31 minutes, the longest of the season. "We've got to have confidence in him and send him back out there."

In the end, Raul Ibanez saved the Phils from what would have been a numbing defeat. On a night when he had four hits, Ibanez hit a bases-loaded single to center to get a four-run 12th inning going. Pedro Feliz, who also had four hits, drove in another run.

Ibanez, Feliz and Carlos Ruiz combined for 11 hits and six RBIs and reached base 14 times. Not bad for the sixth, seventh and eighth hitters.

The Phillies had hit a paltry .187 during their recent six-game homestand. And even though they collected 16 hits against the Nationals, Manuel still wasn't thrilled.

"We hit better, but at the same time, we can play much better," he said. "We chased a lot of balls in the dirt. We definitely can use more discipline at the plate. We have to do better than that."

Chad Durbin, Scott Eyre and Ryan Madson combined for three scoreless innings before the game was turned over to Lidge.

A year ago, that meant an automatic win.

But that was a year ago.

Lidge has allowed runs in each of his last six appearances, including nine earned runs in the last six innings he has pitched. Opponents have scored on him in eight of his 16 appearances.

Through it all, Lidge had remained confident he was on the cusp of finding a rhythm. He has insisted it was only a matter of correcting mechanics to take stress off his achy right knee.

Lidge's meltdown scrambled the starting rotation.

J.A. Happ was scheduled to make his first start of the season tonight in the second game of a day-night doubleheader, but Manuel used Happ out of his depleted bullpen. Happ got the win after closing the game with two scoreless innings.

Manuel's only other option, Jack Taschner, pitched two innings Wednesday.

Manuel said righthander Drew Carpenter, 23, would be called up from triple-A Lehigh Valley to pitch tonight. The Phillies will make room for Carpenter by sending pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo to the IronPigs.

"We burned Happ, but we won the game," Manuel said.

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 16, 2009

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