Brad Lidge was back out there in the ninth inning for the Phillies, and so were his struggles.
This time, though, he was able to make Kyle Kendrick a winner.
Lidge gave up two runs in a shaky ninth before closing out the New York Mets and preserving a 5-4 victory for Philadelphia on Sunday in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
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Lidge was demoted this week, but was called on after Ryan Madson blew a save Saturday. Lidge, who has a major league-leading 10 blown saves, closed out the Mets with the tying run on first for his 29th save.
“It wasn’t the fastest save, but I was happy to get it done,” said Lidge, who received a standing ovation from when he entered the game. “I’m not trying to win the ERA title.”
Kendrick pitched into the eighth inning and Shane Victorino and Ben Francisco each homered for Philadelphia.
Making his first Phillies start of the season, Kendrick looked like the rookie who contributed greatly to Philadelphia’s 2007 playoff run, rather than the one who struggled in ’08.
A sinkerballer, Kendrick recorded 14 groundball outs. The right-hander retired Jeremy Reed on a grounder to start the eighth, then allowed a single to Angel Pagan and a two-run homer to Anderson Hernandez, his second of the season.
Manager Charlie Manuel brought in reliever Tyler Walker, and Kendrick received a loud ovation as he left the mound. Kendrick (1-1) allowed two runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings, walking one and striking out three for his first win since Aug. 22, 2008.
“It was pretty special after (struggling) last year,” Kendrick said of the reception. “To hear that felt good.”
The 25-year-old energized the 2007 Phillies, going 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 20 starts, and was a large reason the team raced past the Mets for their first NL East title since 1993. Though he went 11-9 in 2008, his ERA rose to 5.49, and he was removed from the rotation in September.
Kendrick said his low point came last October, when his teammates were celebrating their NL Division Series win over Milwaukee, and Kendrick was staying sharp by pitching instructional league ball in Clearwater, Fla.
“That was pretty bad,” he said. “I was in a hotel room by myself, and I was really upset. It wasn’t fun. I wanted to be there so bad.”
Kendrick didn’t make the team out of spring training, but compiled a 3.34 ERA in 24 starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
New York right-hander John Maine was making his first start since June 6. Out with a sore shoulder, Maine was one of several key players who missed a large chunk of the season, ruining the Mets chances of competing with the Phillies for the NL East crown.
Maine (5-5) gave up an RBI double to Ryan Howard in the first of his three innings. He threw 57 pitches and gave up two hits before giving way to rookie Tobi Stoner.
Stoner gave up Victorino’s first home run since Aug. 12, a two-run shot in the fifth, and put the Phillies up 4-0. Francisco had homered in the fourth.
Home runs have accounted for 332 of Philadelphia’s 714 runs scored this season, or 46 percent. The Phillies‘ 204 homers lead the NL by a wide margin, ahead of the Colorado Rockies, who entered play Sunday with 170.
Andy Tracy had an RBI single in the eighth to give Philadelphia a 5-2 lead.
That run proved big, as the Mets rallied against Lidge. Jeff Francoeur started the inning with a single and scored on a one-out single by catcher Josh Thole, one of the rookie’s four hits. Reed’s single scored Thole, but Lidge struck out Pagan.
“We had a shot at it,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “We put forth an effort, but fell short.”
Lidge, who is 0-7 with a 7.18 ERA, will take it. He was extremely grateful for the support of the sellout crowd still appreciative of the closer’s perfect season in 2008.
They began cheering wildly when “Soldiers” by Drowning Pool blared and Lidge emerged from the bullpen.
“The fans have been unbelievable through a very bad season for me,” he said. “That’s an extraordinary thing. When you have the fans behind you, it makes things a lot easier. You feel invincible. I was pretty pumped up to get that last out.”
Phillies P Clay Condrey (left oblique strain) is scheduled to continue his rehab assignment Monday with Class-A Lakewood. He allowed two runs on two hits in one inning for Double-A Reading on Saturday. … Chase Utley scored his 100th run of the season, giving him four straight seasons with at least that many.