Manuel expresses commitment to Lidge

Manuel expresses commitment to Lidge

PHILADELPHIA - People like labels.

Is Joe Blanton a starter or reliever?

Is Brad Lidge the closer or not?

"You know, for some reason you guys always want me to commit," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park, when he was asked one more time about Lidge. "I committed a long time ago to Brad Lidge, if you stop and think about it. He's our closer. I've been committed to him ever since we signed him. When we get really back in the back of the bullpen to close the game, he's always somewhere in our minds and we're going to use him in some capacity."

He was in their minds on Friday during Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The Phillies carried a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning, and used five different pitchers to protect that lead, which did not happen. But if the Phillies had protected that lead, they would have used Lidge to pitch the ninth.

"The ideal is situation is him being in the ninth inning and getting those final three outs, just like last year," Ryan Madson said. "Making it an eight-inning game would be awesome, because there would be a ton of arms from the start of the game through the eighth."

Lidge, who went 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA and 31 saves in 42 opportunities during the regular season, has three saves in three appearances this postseason. In 2 1/3 innings, he has allowed one hit, no runs, and three walks and has struck out one.

Lidge threw a scoreless inning to pick up a save in Game 1 against the Dodgers.

NL Championship Series
Gm. 1 PHI 8, LAD 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 LAD 2, PHI 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 PHI 11, LAD 0 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 PHI 5, LAD 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 PHI 10, LAD 4 Wrap Video

"I'm feeling great right now," Lidge said. "I feel fortunate to be feeling physically great right now. I know when I'm feeling great and everything is in line I'll take my chances out there. I'm feeling comfortable right now, and fortunately for me right now is a good time to feel healthy."

If Lidge is healthy and effective, it is obvious the entire bullpen improves because every pitcher slides back into their normal role. Madson becomes the setup man again, instead of a part-time closer. Chan Ho Park, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin and the rest of the bullpen fall in behind them.

"I think his slider is really sharp right now," Madson said. "He's trusting his fastball. He's figured out some things mechanically with his leg lift. It gives him more confidence, thinking he's going to be in the right position to throw the ball. I know that was one thing. I don't know if that made his slider sharp, but it's falling off the table now."

It helps that Lidge is healthier. He blew saves in back-to-back games against the Dodgers in June, but that was just before the Phillies placed him on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right knee.

"I was struggling pretty bad with my knee and mechanically I was everywhere," Lidge said said of his appearances against the Dodgers in June. "I look at that almost as a different season for me."

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