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10/12/09 4:22 AM ET

Phils take Game 3, on verge of NLCS

Howard, Utley, Lidge play key roles in victory over Rox

DENVER -- Brad Lidge had cleared his mind the moment the Phillies had clinched their third consecutive National League East championship this month.

He had suffered through a miserable season, but he figured the postseason would be his shot at redemption. So he forgot about the 11 blown saves, the eight losses and the 7.21 ERA. He focused on the future, which came Sunday night at Coors Field. Lidge had the opportunity to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five NL Division Series against the Rockies if he could get the save in the ninth.

He got it. Lidge had runners on first and second with two outs when he got Troy Tulowitzki to fly out to left field to give the Phillies a 6-5 victory in a game that matched the lowest game-time temperature in a postseason game in baseball history at 35 degrees.

"It felt great," Lidge said. "When the postseason starts it's a completely new slate."

Lidge put the Phillies in position to clinch a berth in the National League Championship Series with a victory Monday (6:07 p.m. ET, TBS and Postseason.TV).

How the ball got to Lidge is equally as fascinating as how Lidge got the save.

Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ allowed five hits and three runs in just three innings. He threw first-pitch strikes to just five of the first 17 batters he faced. He threw 35 pitches in the first as the Rockies scattered four hits to take a 2-1 lead. He threw 17 more pitches in the second inning, which included a five-pitch walk to Rockies starter Jason Hammel.

The Rockies had a 3-1 lead in the fourth when the Phils scored three runs to take a 4-3 lead. Happ had a chance to hit with runners at the corners with two outs, but manager Charlie Manuel pulled him for pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs.

Right-hander Joe Blanton replaced Happ in the fourth and allowed a solo homer to Carlos Gonzalez to make it 4-4.

"I felt like J.A. had good stuff," Manuel said. "I felt that he was having command problems, but every pitch he threw was around the plate. He definitely wasn't wild. The reason I brought Blanton in the game, we had a chance to score. Once I got Blanton hot and the situation for us to score some runs, I felt I wanted Dobbs to hit."

The Phillies had a 5-4 lead when left-hander Scott Eyre allowed a leadoff double to Gonzalez in the seventh. Dexter Fowler then bunted a ball to the right-side of the mound. Eyre, his body falling toward the third-base line, tried to move back toward the first-base line to get the ball, but he sprained his right ankle in the process.

By taking a 2-1 lead in their NLDS with the Rockies, the Phillies put themselves in fine position to clinch another trip to the NLCS, based on past history.
Record of teams leading 2-1
NLDS: 13-1
LDS (both): 26-6

The Phillies said Eyre has a mild right ankle sprain, and will be evaluated again Monday.

Eyre said he will be OK.

Eyre was gone, but the Rockies had runners at the corners with no outs. Right-hander Chad Durbin had been warming up in the bullpen, but Manuel went a different route. He wanted right-hander Ryan Madson, who wasn't warming up. He was sitting on the bench in the bullpen.

The Phillies signaled for Madson by raising their arms way over the heads, showing they wanted the 6-foot-6 Madson.

"Madson, you're in," Brett Myers told Madson.

"Yeah, right," Madson replied. "Good one."

"They're calling for you, dude," Myers said. "Really, it's you."

Madson was surprised to get the call because Durbin had warmed up. But Manuel wanted Madson because he is a strikeout pitcher. He struck out Todd Helton, got Tulowitzki to hit a sacrifice fly to left field to tie the game and struck out Yorvit Torrealba to end the inning. Madson wasn't happy with his at-bat against Tulowitzki, but he got out of a major jam with just one run scoring.

The Phillies took the lead in the ninth when Jimmy Rollins, who was hitting .179 (10-for-56) in his previous 13 postseason games, hit a leadoff single up the middle. Shane Victorino bunted Rollins to second to put him in scoring position.

Division Series
Gm. 1PHI 5, COL 1WrapVideo
Gm. 2COL 5, PHI 4WrapVideo
Gm. 3PHI 6, COL 5WrapVideo
Gm. 4PHI 5, COL 4WrapVideo

The Phillies caught a break when Chase Utley checked his swing on a pitch from Rockies closer Huston Street. The ball hit him on the right knee while in the batter's box, which should have ruled the ball dead. But nobody saw it. Utley sprinted to first to put runners at the corners with one out.

"I'm pretty sure it hit me," said Utley, who hit a solo home run in the first inning. "I've been on the wrong end of that where I don't run and nobody sees it and it's an easy out. I figured the best way to go about that was to run hard until they tell you not to."

Ryan Howard followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Rollins to give the Phillies the lead.

Then came Lidge.

He got Brad Hawpe to ground out for the first out. He walked Gonzalez, who is hitting .615 (8-for-13) against the Phillies this series. Gonzalez stole second to put the tying run 180 feet away. But Lidge got pinch-hitter Jason Giambi to foul out to Pedro Feliz on a 1-1 cut fastball. Lidge started throwing the cutter in his final regular-season appearance Oct. 3 against the Marlins and carried the pitch into the postseason.

"The good thing about that pitch is that I've actually thrown it quite a bit down in the bullpen over the last couple of years," Lidge said. "It's a pitch that helps me with lefties. I think they're pretty used to seeing a fastball and slider from me. Fastballs and sliders, they're my bread and butter and I'm real comfortable and feel confident getting people out with those pitches. But occasionally if you want to mix in another look to some of those good hitters, those lefties, it's a productive pitch."

Lidge walked Helton, which he said didn't upset him too much. They had the open base, which set up a force out. Tulowitzki stepped up and flied out to left fielder Ben Francisco on a 1-0 fastball.

Lidge roared as Francisco squeezed his glove to end the game.

He started the season with a clean slate. He now has one save in one scoreless inning. He hopes it is a sign of things to come.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.