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Phillies Step Closer to Another Title

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1 Phillies Step Closer to Another Title on Tue Oct 13, 2009 3:13 pm


DENVER -- How the Philadelphia Phillies were able to sneak all those cases of Bud Light into Coors Field is another story. But it was quite evident what the beverage of choice was following the team's scintillating playoff-clinching win Monday over the Colorado Rockies.

Sure, champagne was sprayed at the start. But, other than shortstop Jimmy Rollins walking around with a bottle of Domaine Michelle, eventually nearly every Phillies player was content to be chugging a jumbo can of suds.

"It's definitely more of a beer team, no doubt about it,'' said Philadelphia reliever Brad Lidge. "Champagne tastes great for celebrating and when it's in your face. But after that it's beer.''

The Phillies are a gritty team from a hard-working town, so it's only appropriate in beer they trust.

Yes, there are some stars on the team. In Philadelphia's NLDS-clinching 5-4 win over the Rockies, decorated slugger Ryan Howard tied the score at 4-4 with a two-run, two-out double to right field in the top of the ninth inning.

But the game-winning hit, a single to center field that scored Howard from second, came courtesy of right fielder Jayson Werth. Afterward, he described himself as a blue-collar, scrappy-type player, of which the Phillies have plenty.

"I'm a nitty-gritty guy,'' said Werth, whose team moves on to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. "If you want to call me that, that's fine. ... That's what I am. I just want to contribute any way I can. We've got 25 of them. We've got 25 nitty-gritty guys that just battled and battled.''

Led by manager Charlie Manuel, the West Virginian country boy who certainly fits the nitty-gritty description, the Phillies fell behind 4-2 after the Rockies scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth on a two-out pinch-hit single by Jason Giambi that was followed by two-run double by Yorvit Torrealba. But no way was Philadelphia done.

"This is the kind of team that doesn't quit until the game is over, until there's 27 outs,'' Howard said.

Rollins got a one-out single against Colorado closer Huston Street. After a fielder's choice, center fielder Shane Victorino eventually was standing at second with two outs and a 2-2 count on second baseman Chase Utley. It looked for a moment as if Utley might have struck out on a Street curve that caught the plate. But a ball was called, and Utley soon walked.

"The answer is yes,'' Rockies manager Jim Tracy said about whether he thought it should have been a called third strike.

Street complied. Werth, whose solo homer in the sixth gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead after Victorino's solo shot in the first put them up 1-0, followed with his single to center to score Howard.

Soon, it was time to let the beer flow.

"I'm not a beer person, but most of these guys are,'' Rollins said in the very wet Phillies clubhouse that got wetter when pitcher Brett Myers dumped a bucket of ice on Rollins during the midst of an interview.

Rollins was the National League MVP two years ago. Perhaps it's hard to truly fit the blue-collar beer image when you've got a trophy like that on your mantel.

But the defending World Series champions have no shortage of the nitty-gritty types Werth spoke about.

One would be Lidge, who continues to battle after a disastrous season in which he went 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA while leading the majors with 11 blown saves. Lidge in 2008 converted all 48 of his regular-season and postseason save opportunities.

Lidge is slowly getting back into the groove. He got a trying save in Game 3, and got another one Monday, when the temperature was a balmy 48 degrees at the start compared to 35 the day before. Manuel didn't put Lidge in to start the bottom of the ninth, instead going with Scott Eyre. But with runners on first and second, Lidge came in and struck out Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to end the game.

"It's huge for me,'' said Lidge, whose resurgence in the series was a mirror opposite to Street having an impressive regular season before taking the losses in Games 3 and 4. "I really do feel like the postseason starts over, and I felt like this is going to be my time. This whole year, for whatever reason, just hasn't worked a lot of times. I never thought it was because my stuff didn't work. I had some injuries, fell out of sync really badly mechanically. But I knew everything would lock back in in the postseason.''

And, with that, Lidge could go back to the Bud Light the Phillies somehow were able to get through the gates of Coors Field.

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