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Lidge on verge of perfect season

Lidge on verge of perfect season

PHILADELPHIA -- Brad Lidge is six games away from making history.

The Phillies' closer is perfect in 40 save opportunities in 2008. Since Major League Baseball began recognizing the save as an official statistic in 1969, no regular Phillies closer -- one with 20 or more saves in a season -- has lasted an entire year without blowing a save, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

No one.

"Forty straight saves?" Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after Lidge shut down the Marlins in the ninth inning Sunday evening. "That's pretty good. Hopefully he'll get ... let's see ... I can't count that quick to the World Series. A few more."

Sure, other teams have had perfect closers in recent years. Most recently, Eric Gagne, pitching for the Dodgers in 2003, saved 55 in 55 opportunities.

But no Phillies team has even come close to having a closer as reliable as their current 6-foot-5 right-hander. Before Lidge, the Phils' longest streak of successful saves to begin a season happened in 1984, when lefty Al Holland was successful in his first 15 opportunities. Holland finally blew a save on June 22 of that year.

That was June.

This is September. With the Phils holding a 1 1/2-game lead over the Mets in the National League East with six games to go, each one of Lidge's opportunities to hold a late-inning lead has been more adrenaline-pumping than the last.

"Maybe when you're closer, that extra adrenaline is even better, when you're in a situation like that with these games being so important," Lidge said. "For me, it feels better than if you're out of the mix."

Lidge has kept the Phils in the mix all year, and is a big reason why they are 75-0 when leading after eight innings. But Lidge knows this is no time to worry about streaks and accolades.

After all, there are six more games to be played. And, the Phils are hoping, at least a few more after that, in October.

"I know how this year has gone in the back of my head, but I'm not going to let it go to the front of my head," Lidge said. "It's all about helping our team get these wins right now and getting us in the postseason. Our team is outstanding and playing really well right now. My personal stuff is definitely not in the front of my head right now."

Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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