It would have been nice if, a day after Charlie Manuel reluctantly went to extricate Brad Lidge from a ninth-inning jam, bringing in Ryan Madson to save a one-run win, the Phils could have put up a ton of early runs and cruised to an easy win in Washington. But it’s been weeks since any wins came easy for this team, and it came as no surprise that when the ninth inning rolled around, the Phils were protecting a slender lead and Manuel would have to make another hard call.
When the ninth inning began, it was Madson, not Lidge, who came on to try and preserve a 6-5 advantage. And where Lidge had so often faltered after allowing a leadoff baserunner--pitching from the stretch being one of his many issues in 2009—Madson shrugged off a Justin Maxwell leadoff single and steal of second to nail down the win. He struck out Cristian Guzman, who’d previously notched six hits in eight career at-bats against Madson—and induced a soft line-drive from Adam Dunn that Chase Utley caught and flipped to Jimmy Rollins covering for the game-ending double play as Maxwell couldn’t get back.
A good defensive moment in the game was long overdue. Utley’s failure to handle what looked like a dead double play ball in the seventh let Washington tie the score at 4, and Ryan Howard’s error on a routine throw from Rollins to lead off the eighth eventually came around to score. But the game featured some positives as well: starter Cliff Lee, while not near his untouchable early-August form, was much better than in his previous two starts. Lee worked into the eighth inning, allowing five runs (four earned) on ten hits, walking none and striking out four. He gave way to Chan Ho Park with men on second and third and none out in the eighth, and Park managed to hold the Nationals to one run.
Offensively, the Phils gave more signs that they might be easing out of their weeks-long slump, scoring three runs in the second inning without benefit of a home run. It was, however, the solo homer that provided the winning margin, as Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz went back to back in the eighth off Tyler Clippard. Raul Ibanez had another good game against his favorite opponent, with two doubles in five trips to the plate. Alberto Gonzalez, evidently failing to recall that he isn’t very good (eh? eh? EH???), went 3-3 for the Nats with three doubles off Lee.