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News » Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2008-09-23

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2008-09-23

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2008-09-23
Six weeks ago, when setup man Tom Gordon was diagnosed with ligament damage in his right elbow, it sent shudders through the Phillies' bullpen.

Who would pitch the eighth inning?

Enter Ryan Madson.

After years of alternating between starting and relieving, and about a year after suffering a right shoulder strain that ended his 2007 season in late July, Madson hasn't allowed an earned run in 12 2/3 innings and has taken over as the Phillies' primary setup reliever. And with closer Brad Lidge needing a rest Monday night, Madson even was manager Charlie Manuel's choice to pitch the ninth inning against the Braves.

"I have always thought of him as a guy who has the stuff to pitch in the back end of the bullpen," Manuel said. "The difference was that he couldn't hold it. I'd always put him back there, and for some reason, he couldn't stay there.

"But he's been throwing the ball really good right now. He's throwing hard. He's got his changeup, and he's getting his breaking ball over the plate. He's been a big plus for us."

Madson said he's excited about pitching in a playoff race, especially after the premature end to his season in 2007, but he has tried to control his emotions. His fastball reached 96 mph last week in Atlanta, and when he got into a two-on, none-out jam last Saturday night against the fastball-punishing Marlins, he focused on getting groundball outs with his breaking stuff.

Charged with protecting a 6-2 lead Monday night, Madson allowed a one-out single to Chipper Jones and a double by Brian McCann. But he escaped without giving up a run by getting Gregor Blanco to fly to left field and Martin Prado to ground to second base.

PHILLIES 6, BRAVES 2: Pat Burrell's three-run home run capped a four-run eighth inning and gave the Phillies a victory in the series opener Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies increased their division lead to 2 1/2 games over the Mets. Their magic number for clinching a playoff berth is three, and their magic number for clinching the NL East title is four. Greg Dobbs started the Phillies' decisive rally and extended his single-season club record with his 22nd pinch-hit. Shane Victorino recorded three hits and stretched his hitting streak to 11 games. J.A. Happ allowed two runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings but didn't get the decision.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: September 23, 2008

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