Phillies take another step toward clinching NL East
Even in victory, nothing is coming easy for the Philadelphia Phillies' struggling bullpen.
With Prince Fielder on third base with two outs in the ninth inning, reliever Ryan Madson got Milwaukee's Mike Cameron to look at a called third strike, preserving a 6-5 win over the Brewers on Sunday.
It was the ninth save of the season for Madson and a much-needed victory for the Phillies, who cut their magic number to three for clinching the NL East title and split a four-game series with the Brewers.
"Every game is huge right now," Madson said. "The guys have been scoring runs for us and we need to hold it. We've been waiting a couple of days for that to happen. I finally got the chance and it worked out."
Any combination of Phillies wins or Braves losses equaling three would give Philadelphia its third consecutive division crown. Atlanta beat Washington 6-3 in 10 innings Sunday.
"All we have to do is win," Jimmy Rollins said.
Rollins hit his 21st home run of the season and Ryan Howard tied Fielder for the major league RBI lead as the Phillies jumped on struggling Brewers starter Dave Bush (5-9) early.
But with Milwaukee trailing 6-1 in the sixth, Brewers pinch-hitter Mat Gamel hit a three-run homer off starter Joe Blanton. Ryan Braun added an RBI single off Clay Condrey to cut the lead to one, but the Brewers couldn't get any closer in their final home game of a disappointing season.
"We just ran out of gas," manager Ken Macha said.
Sunday's ninth inning was the sort of situation Phillies reliever Brad Lidge would have thrived in during last year's drive to the World Series. But after Lidge blew his 11th save of the season Wednesday, the Phillies came into this weekend's series in Milwaukee open to looking at other ninth-inning options.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, making light of his bullpen troubles, said he doesn't want to "shoot" Lidge.
"I think he will get back to where he was," Manuel said. "Right now, from a mental aspect, he needs a little break."
Tyler Walker got his chance in a tie game Saturday, but gave up a game-winning homer to Braun. Manuel turned to Madson on Sunday, bringing him in for the final out of the eighth inning and leaving him in to face the heart of the Brewers' order in the ninth.
Madson got Braun to ground out in the ninth before giving up a double to Fielder. Pinch-hitter Felipe Lopez tapped a ball back to Madson for a groundout, and Fielder advanced to third. Cameron took a called third strike to end the game.
"He did his job today and gave us a chance to win," Manuel said. "He wasn't real sharp, but he was good enough."
It was an opportunity for redemption for Madson, who still was smarting from the decisive home run he gave up to the New York Mets' David Wright on Sept. 12.
"He always throws hard, but today he had some intent behind it," Rollins said. "That ball David Wright hit off him a couple of weeks ago put things in perspective."
Blanton (12-7) gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings.
The Phillies jumped out to an early lead before most fans found their seats.
Rollins hit his fifth leadoff homer of the season, Chase Utley tripled off the wall in center field with one out and Howard smacked a double, tying Fielder for the major league RBI lead with 137.
Bush, who has struggled since returning from the disabled list late last month, had more trouble in the second.
With the Brewers trailing 2-0 and runners on first and second, Blanton squared to lay down a sacrifice bunt - and Bush hit him in the thigh with a soft curveball, loading the bases with one out. Bush gave up a two-run double to Shane Victorino that put the Phillies up 4-0.
Bush said he wasn't experiencing any pain in the right triceps muscle that landed him on the disabled list, but acknowledged he is struggling with his fastball.
"The biggest thing I haven't been able to get back is velocity on my fastball," Bush said. "It's not terrible, but it's not quite what I'm accustomed to." NOTES: Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said he has not made a decision about the future of manager Ken Macha. Macha, under contract for one more season, said Saturday that he is optimistic about returning. ... Rollins' homer was the 33rd leadoff shot of his career. ... With clouds rolling in, Miller Park's roof was closed in the sixth and the outfield wall panels were closed in the seventh.