Lidge gets boost at triple A

ALLENTOWN - Brad Lidge continued his road back to the Phillies' bullpen Thursday night with a rehabilitation assignment for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

The righthander pitched one inning for the Phils' triple-A affiliate against the Pawtucket Red Sox, his first start for a team above single A since he started his rehab assignments on April 10.

Lidge, who is recovering from right knee and elbow injuries, consistently threw his fastball in the low 90s and seemed to have regained control of his slider. Eight of his 14 pitches were strikes. He walked one batter on four consecutive pitches and got two batters to ground out.

"To be honest, I didn't know if I'd get there [throwing the fastball at 92 m.p.h.] by the time I got back," Lidge said. "That makes me pretty pleased with this outing.

"I wasn't thrilled with walking a guy," he added.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was excited about the closer's outing, especially the improved velocity.

"He threw well," Amaro said after the Phillies' win in Atlanta. "Since he pitched so well and he feels OK, he's going to pitch again [Friday] in Reading. It's the first time he will pitch back-to-back. At some point, he will be relieving Joe Blanton."

Blanton will make his second rehab start for double-A Reading on Friday after pitching two scoreless innings at single-A Lakewood on Sunday.

Lidge will return to the big-league club in a week.

"There's still a couple of things I want to fine-tune," he said. "My slider control is getting very close. . . .

"Hopefully, I'll be in my mind that pitcher back in 2008. Healthwise, I feel like I'm back there."