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Closing Time: Brad Lidge reclaims the ninth

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No thematic lead from a casual Friday – let's go directly to the bullets and see what happened on the sandlots over the last eight hours.

Is it time to trust Brad Lidge(notes) again? He passed the eye test against the Padres, blowing away Adrian Gonzalez(notes) and Chase Headley(notes) in a snappy 1-2-3 ninth inning. To further the Lidge cause, Jose Contreras(notes) was not sharp in the eighth inning, hitting a batter and walking another before he needed relief help.

Lidge now has two perfect innings on his ledger since returning Monday, and very quietly he's converted 17 straight save opportunities at Citizens Bank Park. The slider is biting again, Charlie Manuel is a patient man, are you sucked back into this one? I think I am.

The Lidge save protected Roy Halladay's(notes) eighth win; Doc did what all great pitchers are able to do – he won without his best stuff (7 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 K). Matt Latos struggled with his control on the other side, taking his fourth loss (5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 6 K), though he got his share of tough outs with men on base.

The Orioles have a new manager but unfortunately the players are the same – The Sons of Juan Samuel fell to the Red Sox, 11-0. Clay Buchholz(notes) went the route for Boston (5 H, 1 BB, 2 K) and has won seven of his last eight starts. Adrian Beltre(notes) knocked in a pair of runs for the Red Sox and has the quietest 40 RBIs you ever did see.

Zach Duke(notes) fooled the Giants for about four innings but eventually San Francisco caught up to his soft serves; Eli Whiteside(notes) homered in the fifth and Juan Uribe(notes) and Aubrey Huff(notes) followed in the sixth. Buster Posey(notes) rapped out a double and a single and is now 11-for-23 since hitting the majors. The widely available Neil Walker(notes) went 2-for-4 with a steal for the Bucs.

The AL East is a nasty place for an unestablished pitcher, but Brett Cecil(notes) continues to work his way into the circle of trust. He stopped the Yankees over eight innings (5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K) then handed the ball to Jason Frasor(notes) for the saveless ninth (Toronto held a four-run lead). Jose Bautista(notes) paced the offense with a couple of moonshots off losing pitcher A.J. Burnett(notes).

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How do I not trust Aaron Harang(notes), let me count the ways. I don't trust anyone who won't throw strikes to the opposing pitcher – Harang walked Livan Hernandez(notes) in the second inning at Washington. I don't trust pitchers who kill the pace of the game with their deliberate approach, and Harang is slower than dial-up Internet. I don't trust pitchers who need 99 pitches to get through four innings. And I don't trust pitchers who have a HR/FB rate over the league average just about every year; at some point, this isn't bad luck any longer – it's a career path.

As for the rest of the Cincinnati-Washington game, you'll note that Tyler Clippard(notes) worked the seventh inning and Drew Storen(notes) got the eighth. They both did their jobs, then turned things over to Matt Capps(notes), who got a much-needed save after his Houston mess. Capps allowed two hits to his first three batters, then got out of the jam by fanning Joey Votto(notes) and getting Scott Rolen(notes) to pop up.

If someone made an angry drop of Chris Coghlan(notes) in your league last month, it's time to go to the curb and pick him up. Coghlan collected three hits in Florida's loss to the Mets, making him 13-for-22 over the past five games. An extended run wouldn't be the craziest thing in the world; after all, this guy hit .370 after the break last year.

The Carlos Zambrano(notes) return to the starting rotation was a pedestrian effort (4.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K), but he should be fine down the road. Meanwhile, let's give some props to the pitcher that beat Zambrano Friday – Houston's Felipe Paulino(notes). The talented but erratic righty had his good stuff against the Cubs (8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K), and although he's just 1-7 on the year, there are some underlying skills here (he's got 46 strikeouts over his last 39.2 innings, and he's allowed just one homer over that span). I know it's easy to laugh off a low-profile Houston pitcher with a crummy record, but you might want this guy at some point in 2010, honest. (At least indulge the argument and check out the Paulino highlight video.)

Before we leave Houston, we should quickly check in with the bullpen. Brad Mills(notes) went back to struggling closer Matt Lindstrom(notes) for the ninth against Chicago and it was a breeze – Lindstrom threw a 1-2-3 inning on just eight pitches (six strikes).

Wade Davis(notes) went down to Texas and got the tar kicked out of him, allowing nine hits and eight runs over 3.1 innings. Josh Hamilton(notes) and Justin Smoak(notes) homered of Davis; please note that Smoak has a couple of dingers over his last four games and has looked a lot more comfortable of late. At what point do the Rays decide it's time for Jeremy Hellickson(notes)? He's been ridiculous at Triple-A.

Just when everyone was ready to go gaga over Max Scherzer(notes), he had to go to Kansas City and throw up a stink bomb (5 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 3 K). Any team that lets Jason Kendall(notes) reach base four times should be ashamed of itself. Nonetheless, I'd still roll with Mad Max at Chicago next week.

The other cleat finally dropped on Grady Sizemore(notes)he underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee and is done for 2010. The rehab time is expected to be 6-to-9 months. This probably means we'll see Austin Kearns(notes) in the lineup all year; the post-post-post hype outfielder went 3-for-5 with a homer in Friday's win at Chicago and is batting .292 as the team's No. 3 hitter. You could do a lot worse for a deep-league utility player, and Kearns is still free in over 90 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Adam Wainwright(notes) threw the first shutout of his career, a dominating 2-hitter over the Brewers. Wainwright walked one, struck out eight and needed just 103 pitches. He's definitely one of the Top 5 pitchers in fantasy right now, and other than Ubaldo Jimenez(notes), I can't think of one pitcher I'd without question prefer to Wainwright for the next four months. Halladay? Probably a wash. Tim Lincecum(notes)? I'd still take Wainwright. Zack Greinke(notes)? You're kidding yourself.

Maybe Randy Wolf(notes) needs to call his long-lost Uncle Winston, because the Milwaukee lefty has lost his way a bit. Wolf did work into the seventh inning but nonetheless was roughed up for five runs, pushing his ERA to 4.66 and his WHIP up to 1.58.

There was a blown save in Arizona and for once it wasn't a Diamondbacks pitcher lighting the fire; Manuel Corpas(notes) threw up in the ninth (3 H, 1 HBP, 2 R, just one out) and gave away the ballgame. Arizona got two innings of relief heat from Esmerling Vasquez(notes) (1 BB, 5 K) and a rare clean appearance from Chad Qualls(notes) (1-2-3, one strikeout).

Speed Round: Brett Anderson(notes) is dealing with elbow tendinitis and went back on the disabled list Friday. There's no timetable yet on a return. … Justin Masterson(notes) walked six men against just one strikeout but lived to tell about it, grabbing his first win at Chicago. Somehow he only allowed one run over 5.2 innings. … The Braves are sticking with Kenshin Kawakami(notes) an awfully long time, don't you think? He fell to 0-8 Friday and he's got a 4.91 ERA for the year. … Hideki Matsui(notes) homered for the third time in eight at-bats against Ian Snell(notes), leading the Angels to an easy victory at Seattle. "He owns me," Snell conceded. … Justin Morneau(notes) is hoping to get a day off soon, but it didn't happen Friday. He homered and drove in two runs at Oakland, and the Twins eventually put the A's away in extra innings. … Takashi Saito(notes) (hamstring) went on the 15-day DL, which means Peter Moylan(notes) will get the bridge innings in front of Billy Wagner(notes).Doug Fister(notes) has a tired shoulder and will miss his next start. … Will Venable(notes) left Friday's game with a jammed neck, suffered from an awkward slide into third base. … Seth Smith(notes) is generally more interesting at Coors Field, but he did hit a homer in Colorado's loss at Arizona. He's the rare platoon player that's worth owning in just about all mixers.

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