Bastardo leading improved Phillies bullpen

Bastardo leading improved Phillies bullpen

PHILADELPHIA -- No matter the inning or the batter, Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo says he has the same goal in mind for every at-bat.

"I try every time just to make my pitch," the left-hander said, "where I want to throw it and what I want to throw."

Though Bastardo said he does not like to think of himself of having a specific role in the Phillies bullpen, he has pitched the eighth inning when the team has had the lead lately. Regular setup man Mike Adams is on the 60-day disabled list, which has allowed Bastardo more opportunities to attempt to get the lead to closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Bastardo has been solid for most of the season and has a 2.78 ERA. The Phillies have been better since the calendar turned to July, and so has Bastardo. In five appearances this month, Bastardo has allowed just one run in 4 2/3 innings (1.93 ERA). He also has seven strikeouts, had surrendered just three hits and picked up his second save of the season Tuesday.

"Lately, he's been doing real good, he's been super," manager Charlie Manuel said of Bastardo. "That's what we need."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Stephen Pianovich This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.