Oct. 29, 2008
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Mr. Perfect got the biggest save of his career.
Just like he did all season, Brad Lidge nailed down 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 championship in the franchise's 126-year history.
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. Lidge dropped to his knees and raised his arms in the air, screaming "We did it!" Catcher Carlos Ruiz ran out and jumped on Lidge and starting with a big tackle from Ryan Howard, everyone piled on.
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 bullpen.
The bullpen led the NL in ERA (3.22) and winning percentage (.589) during the regular season, and was even better in the playoffs.
Before coming to Philadelphia, Lidge was best remembered for allowing that mammoth homer to St. Louis' Albert Pujols in the 2005 NL championship series.
But he was rejuvenated with the Phillies. Lidge 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.
Ryan 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.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press