Lost in the mayhem of Game 2 was a standout effort by the Phillies' bullpen, which kept them in position to rally from a 4-0 deficit.
Five relievers - J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge - combined to limit the Reds to three baserunners in four scoreless innings after starter Roy Oswalt exited the game for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fifth.
The performance called to mind the 2008 season, when the bullpen played a crucial role in the Phillies' run to the title, allowing just eight earned runs in 40 1/3 innings over 14 games.
In fact, four of the five relievers who appeared against the Reds in Game 2 were holdovers from that 2008 team, which finished the regular season with a National League-low 3.22 ERA.
"I think everybody has been filling in those roles and getting outs in a regular routine or a role that you kind of get used to," said Durbin, who had appeared in 14 postseason games since 2008 entering Game 3 last night.
This postseason may be the last time the group gets the chance to pitch together.
Durbin, who has a 3.62 ERA in 194 appearances in three seasons with the Phillies, will be a free agent after the season. Over the last 3 years, Durbin has logged 226 innings, second-most among NL relievers, trailing only the Cubs' Carlos Marmol (239).
He initially joined the Phillies with the hope of competing for a spot in the rotation. But after losing out in a spring-training competition in 2008, Durbin quickly established himself as one of the bullpen's most reliable arms.
"We knew he pitched long relief in the bullpen, and he'd never actually pitched like, say, in the seventh or eighth inning and stuff like that," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Once the season started and we started getting into some tough spots and we started putting him in different roles and he started coming through good, it was kind of like he was the one we had to put in those roles at that time."
But with a payroll that already has about $131 million committed to 16 players, the Phillies could be looking for some of their young (and cheap) minor league arms to break into the bullpen next season. Durbin earned $2.125 million in arbitration this season and had a solid year, posting a 3.80 ERA in 64 appearances, meaning he could be attractive to teams looking to add a veteran relief arm.
Romero, who has a $4.5 million club option that seems unlikely to be exercised, also is facing an uncertain future.
"We've got a great group of guys," said Madson, who is signed through next season. "The longer you can keep a great group of guys together, the better. I don't want anything to change. I hope we can just stay like this all career . . . As a bullpen, you need to be tight. The game gets rough, has rough spots for everybody. But for us, we've got guys we can lean on and we need to keep those guys. So I would love to keep it the same."
Charlie Manuel will have a decision to make now that the Phillies have advanced to the National League Championship Series.
Will he use a fourth starter, or pitch his top three on short rest? Because the Phillies' picked an 8-day National League Division Series, they were able to set up their rotation using only three starters. But the League Championship Series features seven games in 9 days, removing that possibility. Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt both have pitched on short rest before. Cole Hamels has not.
Manuel said last night before Game 3 that his only focus was on the Reds.
"We'll see what happens after that," he said. "But will I be scared of it? No, I'm not scared of nothing."
The Phillies now have a 10-2 record in franchise history in games when they had an opportunity to clinch. They have won their last six clinchers . . . Friday's Game 2 rally was just the second time in club postseason history the Phillies overcame a deficit of at least four runs . . . Charlie Manuel used the same lineup last night as he did in Game 2, batting Shane Victorino leadoff and Jimmy Rollins sixth in front of Raul Ibanez. *
For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at http://go.philly.com/highcheese. Follow him on Twitter at