You could say that Pedro Feliz makes the play 99 out of 100 times, and his .974 fielding percentage from a year ago would make you pretty close to being factually accurate. But the exception occurred last night, as a hard ground ball from Russell Martin with two out in the ninth inning bounced off his glove, loading the bases and setting up a game-winning two-run single by Andre Ethier off of Brad Lidge.
"I just missed it," Feliz said. He declined further comment, but there really wasn't much else to say.
Lidge was charged with his fifth blown save, but he didn't look unlike the Lidge who went a perfect 41-for-41 last season. He retired his first two batters, then gave up a single off the end of Casey Blake's bat on a slider that hit its intended spot. His biggest miscue was walking James Loney, but the grounder from Martin should have ended the game.
"Casey Blake did a good job of getting the bat on the ball on a good pitch down -- slider where I wanted it," Lidge said. "Loney did a good job battling and he got on base, and then, obviously Pedro makes that play as good as anybody -- I don't even want to know the percentage on it. It's something you never see. I'll take my chances with him over anybody, really."
Instead, what looked to be the Phillies eighth-straight victory turned into perhaps its most heartbreaking loss of the season. Instead of improving to 33-20 and maintaining their four-game lead in the National League East, they let a game against the best team in the majors slip away.
"This season hasn't gone quite as smooth as last year, I know that," Lidge said. "But I've been feeling great and I felt really good again tonight. It's frustrating, no question. You want everything to go well. . .They're all frustrating, really. But I feel real good right now and for me I'll just take it as a continuation of that and just a real freak thing that you aren't going to see very often."
They also squandered a brilliant performance from Jamie Moyer, who allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings.
Now, they'll try to rebound in an afternoon game with Joe Blanton on the mound.
The Phillies squandered a couple chances to score, but also got a fortuitous plan when Orlando Hudson mishandled a ground ball in the fourth inning and allowed Chris Coste to reach base. Coste ultimately scored on a two-run double by Chase Utley.
"I guess about the only thing you can say is what old Yogi (Berra) used to say," manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's not over until the fat lady sings. Or it's never over till it's over. Standing there with two outs and two strikes on a hitter and you end up losing a game. That's kind of how it goes sometimes. That's how it went tonight."