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10/16/09 3:13 AM ET
Phillies relievers trump heralded LA 'pen
Lidge and Co. send strong message to Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- So much for the dominance of the Dodgers bullpen. The curtain went up on the ballyhooed National League Championship Series on Thursday night and the Los Angeles bullpen that was supposed to be the difference in this best-of-seven tournament came up empty.
To me, the scene, if not the tone, was set for the Phillies bullpen in the sixth when J.A. Happ, holding a 5-4 lead, got Rafael Furcal to ground out with the bases loaded. And in the seventh after Andre Ethier opened with a scorching double off Antonio Bastardo, Chan Ho Park put the next three batters down, starting with Manny Ramirez, who'd blasted a two-run homer earlier. Lidge and his teammates have read the clippings and heard all the previews about how the Dodgers, who lost to the Phillies in five games last year, would be much more formidable this year because of their relief pitchers. "They obviously do have a great bullpen. I would never take anything away from those guys," said Lidge. "But I like our bullpen as good as anybody's." Lidge was on the mound last October when the Phillies defeated Tampa Bay to win the World Series. And it was the struggling Lidge who was on the mound, thanks to Manuel, to get the final out when the Phillies clinched this year's National League East title. That was a tremendous gesture by Charlie, but there might have been more method to his madness than just making sure Lidge could take another bow. I talked with Lidge an hour after that moment and it was obvious his confidence had reached its highest point of 2009. He proved that by saving two of the three victories over Colorado in the Division Series. And then Thursday night. "It is just one game, but we did the damage on their 'pen tonight," said Lidge.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.