Given his unbelievable performance in 2008 and the fact that he’s going to be a Phillie for two more seasons, it’s a little hard to know when to pull the plug on Brad Lidge and his miserable 2009 season. I can help, though. The answer is right now.

The Phillies aren’t playing critical games these days. It would take a huge meltdown in conjunction with miraculous play by some other teams to keep them out of the playoffs. It’s not going to happen. It’s not just about the playoffs, though. Time after time Manuel comes up with “he’s my closer” when asked about Lidge. Really? Well your closer is having a terrible year, it kills your team and he’s only your closer because you say he is. As loyal as you are to Lidge you have a responsibility to your team to do better. At least when the games matter, you do. Lidge has an 8.84 ERA and a 2.02 ratio over his last 22 appearances. Every time Lidge gets the ball with the game on the line now it digs the hole deeper for Manuel — one more time to say he’s my closer and one more chance to get someone else some experience with the role that’s lost.

Lidge has two more years to get his ’08 magic back. It’s gone now, though, and anyone who can’t see that is blinded by something. If it’s loyalty that has Manuel blind I actually think that’s a little impressive. Maybe that loyalty to his players is how he gets so much out of them. But it’s not Brad Lidge’s job to say he doesn’t want to close anymore. Not his job to say he can’t get the job done. He doesn’t believe that and he shouldn’t and it’s never ever going to happen. It is Manuel’s job, though, and he has more than one player he needs to be loyal to.

The Phillies are 88-63 on the season after losing two of three to the Florida Marlins. The Phils are in first place in the NL East and lead the second-place Braves by 6 1/2 games. Atlanta has gone 8-2 over their last ten games to pull within four of the Rockies for the Wild Card. After winning game one of the series the Phillies were 27 games over .500 for the first time since the 1993 season.

The Phillies rolled to a 9-3 win behind a great start from Blanton in game one. Blanton exited with a 4-0 lead after allowing two singles and two walks over seven innings. The Phils broke it open with a five-run eighth in which Ibanez hit his 32nd homer of the season. Escalona and Walker combined to allow three Marlins runs in the bottom of the eighth.

Anibal Sanchez baffled the Phils in game two, throwing eight shutout innings as the Marlins won 3-0. Dan Uggla put the Fish up 1-0 with a solo homer off of Moyer in the second and Cody Ross extended it to 2-0 with another solo shot in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez doubled in Chris Coghlan in the fifth to make it 3-0. The Phillies had two hits in the game, a single by Utley and a double by Utley.

The Phillies coughed up three runs late last night and lost 7-6. A two-run doubled by Howard put the Phils up 2-0 in the top of the third, but the Fish put a run on the board off of Hamels in the fourth and went up 3-2 in the fifth. Ibanez homered in the sixth to tie the game at 3-3 and Hamels brought Feliz in with a two-out single to put the Phils back up at 4-3. Howard drove in two more runs with a two-run homer in the seventh. 6-3. Gaby Sanchez homered off of Hamels in the bottom of the seventh to get the Marlins back within two runs. Madson gave up a run in the eighth on two singles and a hit batter. 6-5. Lidge started the ninth in defense of the one-run lead and gave up a leadoff double to Ross Gload. He got the next two hitters before Ramirez walked and then Jorge Cantu tied the game with a single. With two outs and men on first, Brett Carroll delivered the game-winning single to center for Florida.

The Phillies threw 25 2/3 innings in the series, pitching to a 4.56 ERA and a 1.36 ratio.

Blanton made a great start in game one. Moyer and Hamels combined to allow seven runs in 14 innings in the next two games. Overall the starters threw to a 3.05 ERA with a 1.05 ratio over 21 innings. They allowed four home runs, Moyer and Hamels each gave up two.

Blanton was fantastic in the opener. He went seven shutout innings, allowing two singles and two walks while striking out nine. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last two starts and has allowed more than three runs in a start in his last 21 starts.

Moyer started game two and allowed three runs over seven innings on nine hits and a walk. He gave up a pair of solo home runs and struck out five. He’s allowed 27 home runs in 156 2/3 innings this year after allowing 20 in 196 1/3 innings in 2008.

Hamels went seven innings in game three, allowing four runs on eight hits. He didn’t walk a batter, but allowed two home runs in a game for the first time in eight starts. He’s walked just five batters in 36 2/3 innings for the month.

The relief pitching was terrible in the series. Escalona and Walker combined to give up three runs with a big lead in game one. Madson and Lidge got hit hard last night. Overall the pen pitched 4 2/3 innings with an 11.57 ERA and a 2.79 ratio. They allowed nine hits and four walks in less than five innings.

Escalona started the eighth inning of game one with the Phillies up 9-0. Coghlan singled with one out and Nick Johnson followed with a walk. Ramirez was next and he lined a double to center, scoring Coghlan to make it 9-1 with men on second and third and one out. Walker came in to pitch to the righty Cantu.

Walker entered game one in the eighth inning with one out, men on second and third and the Phillies up 9-1. He struck Jorge Cantu out for the second out, but Uggla was next and delivered a two-run single to right to make it 9-3. Walker walked Ronny Paulino before getting Cody Ross to pop to third to end the inning.

Condrey pitched a 1-2-3 ninth in game one with the Phils up 9-3.

Durbin pitched the eighth inning of game two with the Phillies down 3-0. He walked Wes Helms with one out before getting Uggla on a popup for the second. Paulino moved Helms to second with a single before Durbin struck out Ross to end the inning.

Madson started the eighth inning of game three with a 6-4 lead. He gave up a leadoff single to Cantu and then hit Nick Johnson with a pitch. He got Uggla to hit into a double-play, which left Cantu at third with two down. Ross singled to left and Cantu scored, making it 6-5. Madson struck out Paulino to end the inning.

Lidge pitched the ninth inning last night, entering with a 6-5 lead. Gload doubled to start the inning, but Lidge got the next two before walking Ramirez. It put men on first and third with two down for Cantu and Cantu singled to center, scoring Gload to make it 6-6. Ramirez went to third on the single and scored the game-winner when Carroll followed with a single.

The Phillies scored 15 runs in the three-game set.

Rollins was 2-for-13 with a double in the series and is hitting 245/290/411 for the season.

Victorino was 2-for-11 with three walks. 295/363/448 on the year. He’s hitting 240/310/385 over his last 198 plate appearances.

Utley was 3-for-11 with a double and two walks in the series. 294/412/530 for the year.

Howard went 4-for-14 with a double, a home run and seven RBI. He’s at 272/353/564 for the season.

Ibanez was 3-for-11 with two home runs and a walk in the series. He has six home runs but just ten RBI in the month. 277/347/565 for the year.

Werth was 1-for-9 with two walks in the series. 271/376/516. 1-for-his-last-13.

Feliz was on the bench for game one with Cairo at third. He went 1-for-7 with a double in the series. 262/308/381. He’s hitting 245/283/359 since the end of May. The end of May was a long time ago.

Ruiz started the night game of the double-header before returning to Philadelphia to have his wrist looked at. He was 0-for-2 in the series and is at 253/353/423 for the year.

Bako started games one and three of the series. 2-for-7 with two walks in the series. 198/291/297 on the year.

Cairo started game one at third and went 2-for-5 with a double in the series. He’s hitting 226/250/290 in 31 at-bats for the year.

Francisco was 0-for-1 in the series and is hitting 267/300/547 in 75 at-bats with the Phillies.

Bruntlett appeared as a pinch-runner in the series and still does not have an at-bat in September. 167/224/240 on the year.

Dobbs was 0-for-1 with a walk in the series and is at 259/312/410 for the season.

Stairs was 0-for-1 with a walk. 206/369/402 on the season. He’s 3-for-37 (.081) since the All-Star break.

This article says that Carlos Ruiz has had an MRI that showed no structural damage to his left wrist. Ruiz will likely have a cortisone injection today and be sidelined for three to five days.

The list of catchers that the Phillies have lost recently includes Jason Jaramillo, Lou Marson, Ronny Paulino and Chris Coste. Marson was part of the Lee deal, which was a fantastic trade for the Phils. The other three were pretty much given away, though. The Phils traded Jaramillo for Paulino in December. Paulino was traded for Taschner in an awful deal for the Phillies at the end of March. The Astros claimed Coste off of waivers in July after the Phils had acquired Bako. Losing Paulino for Taschner is the move of those three that hurts the most, Paulino has hit 278/344/435 in 223 at-bats for the Marlins this season.

The article linked above also says that Eyre was available to pitch last night.