Some things just don't make sense. The Phillies have been a pretty good team for years now, particularly on the road--and never more so than in 2009. The Pirates last posted a winning record during George Bush's presidency--the Bush who pretended to like pork rinds and whose memoirs Bart Simpson accidentally destroyed, not the Bush who almost choked on a pretzel. Yet the Phils just don't win at PNC Park, and sometimes they don't-win in particularly weird and gruesome ways. So it was Tuesday night, when Brad Lidge outlasted Matt Capps in an epic "Suck Harder" closer showdown.
With the Pirates leading 3-2 heading into the 9th thanks to a Steve Pearce two-run homer off Phillies starter Joe Blanton, Capps got the first crack. He retired Pedro Feliz on one pitch, then gave up a scorched double to Carlos Ruiz on his second offering of the inning. Two pitches later, pinch-hitter Ben Francisco tied the game with another double; he came around to score when center fielder Andrew McCutchen misplayed another rocket off Shane Victorino's bat for a triple and a 4-3 Phillies lead. Awful as this was, it represented improvement from Capps' previous outing against the Phils on July 11: 1/3 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs (all earned), 2 walks, 2 homers in an 8-7 Phils win.
And, thanks to Lidge, he got a win. Called upon in a dubious decision by Charlie Manuel--it was Lidge's fourth appearance in as many days--the struggling closer wasted no time: a leadoff single by Luis Cruz and a wild pitch put the tying run on second. Pinch-hitter Brandon Moss followed with a hard single to right that Jayson Werth misplayed, allowing pinch-runner Brian Bixler to cross the plate and tie the game at 4. McCutchen came up next, and redeemed his own defensive mistake with a home run to center field, giving Pittsburgh a walkoff win and popping Lidge's ERA, so briefly below seven runs per nine, back up to 7.33.
Lost in the late dramatics were Jimmy Rollins' two home runs in his first two at-bats--each a first-pitch connection--and a gutty start by Blanton in which he lacked his usual location but held the Pirates at bay over six innings but for the homers to Pearce and Ryan Doumit, striking out seven along the way.