HOUSTON — Brad Lidge walked into Minute Maid Park on Thursday and the memories, good and bad, came flooding back.
The 31-year-old closer was back for the first time since Houston traded him to Philadelphia last November, as the Phillies and Astros began a four-game series.
Lidge got off to a satisfying start, too, earning the save in Philadelphia’s 7-5 victory Thursday night.
“I was excited to get here and actually, surprised, kind of walking down by the parking garage back into the tunnel here, how excited I was getting,” Lidge said before the opener. “I stopped in and said hi to some of the guys in the home clubhouse. It’s great to see everybody. Trying to get used to the angles here. Everything seemed flipped around a little bit.”
Lidge emerged as one of the game’s dominant closers with the Astros in 2004, striking out 157 batters, an NL record for a reliever. He saved a career-high 42 games in 2005, striking out 103.
ATLANTA —Chipper Jones drove in the go-ahead run during a three-run seventh inning and Atlanta beat New York behind Tim Hudson to complete its first four-game sweep of the Mets in five years.
Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado homered on consecutive pitches from Hudson in the second inning. But Santana (5-3) couldn’t hold the 2-0 lead while giving up a career-high 12 hits and four runs, three earned, in seven innings.
The left-hander did not walk a batter but had only one strikeout, a season low, while losing for the first time since April 12. The struggling Mets fell to 22-23 with their seventh loss in 10 games, a frustrating stretch that has led to speculation about manager Willie Randolph being fired.
PITTSBURGH — Jason Bay and Xavier Nady homered and the Pittsburgh Pirates took advantage of Milwaukee’s inability to drive in runners to beat the Brewers and avoid a series sweep.
The Brewers, losers of nine in a row on the road before the series started Tuesday, were denied their first three-game sweep in Pittsburgh since PNC Park opened in 2001.
A night after Brewers ace Ben Sheets allowed 11 hits but still pitched a complete game to defeat Pittsburgh 4-1, the Brewers got 14 hits but left a season-high 14 on base. They were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, failing repeatedly to get to Pirates starter Tom Gorzelanny (4-4).
MIAMI — Andrew Miller limited Arizona to five hits in seven innings, and Florida completed series sweep in a showdown of first-place teams.
The series was the most impressive yet by the Marlins. The team with baseball’s lowest payroll built its improbable NL East lead with the help of a weak early schedule, but there was nothing fluky about the way they swept NL West leader Arizona.