WASHINGTON - No time to celebrate the first 30-homer foursome in Philadelphia Phillies history, or the second good start in a row from Pedro Martinez, or even the end of a four-game losing streak.
There was only one question following Tuesday night’s 5-3 win over the Washington Nationals: Is Brad Lidge still the closer?
Charlie Manuel wasn’t saying for sure, although Lidge seemed to think the job was still his after a postgame meeting between player and manager. The meeting was necessary because — only a few hours after giving Lidge a public vote of confidence — Manuel found himself having to yank Lidge from the game in a ninth inning in which the reliever retired only one of four batters.
“I’m not saying that he’ll close tomorrow, the next day or whatever,” Manuel said, “but I look at him as a closer.”
Lidge’s take: “If there’s a save situation tomorrow, he said he was going to bring me in.”
Lidge’s struggles stole the spotlight on a milestone night for the franchise. The Phillies got 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-homer seasons.
Raul Ibanez went long for his 29th and 30th and Chase Utley hit No. 30, joining Ryan Howard (38) and Jayson Werth in the 30-homer club. Werth hit his 32nd, and Carlos Ruiz got 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.”
Brett Myers followed with 1 1-3 scoreless innings, but Lidge came on in the ninth and retired one batter amid a single, a hit batter, a wild pitch and a walk.
Manuel then removed Lidge and replaced him with Ryan Madson, who struck out ninth-inning homer specialist Zimmerman and got cleanup hitter Dunn on a groundout to record his fifth save.
“As I was sitting there I didn’t have a very good feel about the game,” Manuel said. “And I made up my mind I wanted to try Madson.”
Werth and Ibanez homered in back-to-back at-bats in the seventh, followed two batters later by Ruiz, lifting the Phillies from what had been looking like another moribund offensive performance. The NL East leaders had scored only 23 runs in their previous 11 games and had gone 70 2-3 innings without having a lead of more than one run, causing them to lose ground in the race for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
Four of the homers came off John Lannan (8-11), spoiling an otherwise fine outing from the closest thing the last-place Nationals have for an ace. Lannan allowed only four other baserunners in his 6 2-3 innings.
“I guess you could say it was home run derby,” Lannan said.
Ibanez’s multihomer game was his fourth of the season and second at Nationals Park. He also singled to finish 3 for 4 and is batting .463 with eight homers and 20 RBIs this season against the Nationals. He is 7 for 10 in his career against Lannan.
“It was a good night to hit if you could the ball in the air, and they got five of them,” Washington manager Jim Riggleman said. “Five is a little ridiculous.”
Notes: Willie Harris homered and doubled for the Nationals, who have lost nine of 10. ... The Phillies, who have the major leagues’ highest percentage of runs from homers, became the first team since the 2006 Chicago White Sox to have four 30-homer hitters. The last NL team to accomplish the feat was the 2004 Chicago Cubs. ... The 70 2-3 innings without a lead of more than one run was the longest such streak for the Phillies since July 2004. ... The Phillies have won eight straight over the Nationals and lead the season series 11-2.
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