Wednesday, September 09, 2009
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[September 09, 2009]  WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Philadelphia Phillies have four 30-homer hitters for the first time and a revitalized Pedro Martinez.

Now if they could only figure out what to do about Brad Lidge.

The Phillies broke a four-game losing streak Tuesday night, beating the Washington Nationals 5-3 with a long-ball milestone and another solid outing from Martinez, but manager Charlie Manuel was hardly in a celebratory mood after having to yank his closer in the ninth inning.

"It was a tough thing for me to do," Manuel said.

Only a few hours after getting Manuel's public vote of confidence, Lidge retired only one of the four batters he faced. Manuel called on Ryan Madson to finish the game, and Madson responded by retiring the heart of the Nationals order -- Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn -- to earn his fifth save.

So is Lidge still the closer?


"He could definitely be," Manuel said. "I'm definitely not going to get away from him. We're going to work with him and get him back to where he can get consistent and go out there and save games. I'm not saying that he'll close tomorrow, the next day or whatever, but I look at him as a closer. I don't look at him as a seventh-inning guy; I don't look at him as an eighth-inning guy."

Interestingly, Lidge, who has 10 blown saves this year after a perfect 2008, had a different take after meeting with the manager after the game.

"If there's a save situation tomorrow, he said he was going to bring me in," Lidge said.

The Phillies scored all of their runs on five solo homers -- including three in the seventh inning -- and became the 12th team in major league history to have four players with 30 or more in a single season.

Raul Ibanez hit his 29th and 30th, and Chase Utley got No. 30, joining Ryan Howard (38) and Jayson Werth in the 30-homer club. Werth hit his 32nd, and Carlos Ruiz his ninth.

There was also more good stuff from Martinez (4-0), who craftily mixed plenty of offspeed pitches with an occasional low-90s fastball. He allowed three runs and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings, and the 119 pitches were his most in nearly four years. The Phillies improved to 6-0 when the three-time Cy Young Award winner starts.

"I felt better as I got going, and that's a good sign," Martinez said. "It's just a matter of time before I get a good game going from the get-go and hopefully get me eight or nine innings."

Cardinals 4, Brewers 3

At Milwaukee, Matt Holliday hit a two-run homer off Trevor Hoffman in the top of the ninth for St. Louis. It was only the third blown save for Hoffman (1-2) this season.

Blake Hawksworth (3-0) picked up the win with a scoreless eighth inning and Kyle McClellan pitched the ninth for his third save.


Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 4

At Phoenix, Ronnie Belliard hit the last of Los Angeles' five two-out singles in the eighth inning to break the game's final tie.

Billy Buckner limited Los Angeles to one run and five hits in seven innings before the Dodgers cashed in against the Arizona bullpen for their third straight victory.

Arizona, which tied a franchise record with five double plays, has lost six straight.

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Padres 4, Giants 3

At San Francisco, Chase Headley homered and singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and San Diego dropped the Giants three games behind Colorado in the NL wild-card race.

Luke Gregerson (1-3) recorded the final out of the seventh for his first major league win. Heath Bell pitched the ninth for his 36th save.

Rockies 3, Reds 1

At Denver, Jason Marquis scattered four hits over 7 1-3 innings and Eric Young Jr. hit his first major league homer for Colorado.

The win was the fifth straight by the Rockies, and moved the NL wild-card leaders 19 games above .500 (79-60) for the first time in franchise history.

Braves 2, Astros 1

At Houston, Javier Vazquez struck out nine in seven shutout innings and Atlanta snapped a five-game losing streak.

Vazquez (12-9) allowed three hits and Rafael Soriano gave up a run in the ninth but earned his 22nd save as the Braves snapped Houston's four-game winning streak.

Marlins 4, Mets 2

At New York, Hanley Ramirez and Cameron Maybin hit long two-run homers as Florida kept up its surprising playoff push.

The Marlins remained six games behind first-place Philadelphia in the NL East and 5 1/2 games behind Colorado for the NL wild card.

Brian Sanches (4-1) pitched two scoreless innings for the win and Leo Nunez got three outs for his 19th save.

Cubs 9, Pirates 4

At Pittsburgh, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome had two-run hits in a record-tying first inning and Chicago handed Pittsburgh its 11th loss in 12 games.

The Cubs tied a major league record with eight consecutive hits to start the game. No team had done it since the New York Yankees against Baltimore on Sept. 25, 1990.

[Associated Press; By JOSEPH WHITE]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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