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Lidge puzzled by tough outing

Lidge puzzled by tough outing

ATLANTA -- Before Saturday's game against the Braves, Phillies closer Brad Lidge spoke about the confidence he gained by escaping a ninth-inning jam Friday night to preserve a win for Philadelphia and earn the save.

Unfortunately for Lidge and the Phillies, much of the good feelings generated on Friday were erased by a disastrous ninth inning on Saturday.

Lidge surrendered a leadoff hit, then committed two costly errors on an attempted sacrifice bunt that led to the Braves tying the score. After that, things unraveled quickly as Atlanta pulled out a win and Lidge walked off the mound with his second blown save in three outings.

"It's puzzling," Lidge said. "It doesn't mean that it's crazy, because this is baseball. The ball's not bouncing the right way. Last year, it bounced the right way every time."

In back-to-back outings, on Sunday and Tuesday, Lidge surrendered four combined runs and blew a save. The way the ninth began for Lidge on Friday night at Turner Field, it looked as though he might have been headed for another rough outing.

Lidge allowed an Adam LaRoche single and a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Greg Norton as the Phillies clung to a one-run lead, but he then retired Nate McLouth to preserve his first save since Aug. 6.

But on Saturday, the ninth inning once again became a familiar sight for Phillies fans, as Lidge made a costly mistake, this time defensively, that led to a loss.

When Lidge attempted to field Matt Diaz's sacrifice bunt, he bobbled the ball for the first error and then rushed his throw. It sailed past Ryan Howard at first base for the second error on the same play, allowing Garrett Anderson to score from first and tie the game.

Two walks and a base hit later, the Braves had won the game. Still, Lidge has managed to remain optimistic, if not disappointed, through the tough times.

"I feel as good as I have in two years," Lidge said. "I don't know what else to do, except keep getting the ball and throwing it. Eventually, they're going to hit it at somebody, or we're going to get the right breaks or I'm not going to make an error."

As difficult as it might seem for Lidge to forget about his previous struggles this season, the Phillies closer said he doesn't focus on the past when trouble begins to brew during one of his outings.

"Honestly, I know this year hasn't gone good," Lidge said. "But when I get out there, I'm focused in on that game. [Today], I felt really good. I felt like it would be a great inning. I made a mistake."

Adam Rosenberg 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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