Brad Lidge has been the whipping boy in Philly this year, and rightfully so. The postseason, however, is a new day and Lidge has now converted two, heart-wrenching, back-to-back saves.
The Phillies secured a hard-fought 5-4 win to advance to their second straight NLCS appearance.
Trailing 4-2 entering the ninth inning, the Phillies offense woke up and scored three runs against the Rockies closer Huston Street. Jimmy Rollins got things going with an infield hit, followed by a Chase Utley walk. Ryan Howard doubled in both runs, and then scored the go ahead run on a Jason Werth single.
“We could have relaxed, knowing that we had a game at home tomorrow, but that’s not how we do it,” said Howard.
Lidge and the offense bailed out Cliff lee and Ryan Madson. Cliff Lee, who tossed a complete game on Wednesday, tossed seven great innings before getting into trouble in the eighth inning.
Rookie center fielder David Fowler did his best Willie Mays Hayes imitation when he jumped Chase Utley to avoid a tag on a ground ball. Utley tossed the ball to Rollins to force Fowler out, but J-Roll dropped the ball.
Defensive replacement Ben Francisco, who entered the game in a double switch when Lee was replaced by Madson, made an impressive diving catch the get the second out of the inning. However, Jason Giambi then got a hit to make it a 2-2 game. Ryan Madson let two more runners score to give the Rockies the lead.
The Phils first two runs came on solo shots by Shane Victorino in the first and Jason Werth in the sixth inning.
Although the two teams would have played a deciding Game 5 at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday had the Phillies lost, winning the series in four games was critical for success in the next round.
Cole Hamels, who would have pitched tomorrow, will now be extremely rested for Game 1 of the NLCS on Thursday in Los Angeles. The Southern California native loves pitching near his hometown, and will likely rebound from a poor outing in Game 2.
The new father knows his wife and son are doing well, and can concentrate on regaining his 2008 playoff form.
Lee will likely get the ball when Game 3 takes place next Sunday in Philadelphia. JA Happ and Joe Blanton, both of whom pitched last night, will both be considered for Game 2 on Friday.