Phillies clinch NL East and Brad Lidge gets the last out

Say it three times in a row: The Philadelphia Phillies are champions of the NL East.

With closer Brad Lidge(notes) on the mound for the last out, the Phillies beat the Astros 10-3 on Wednesday night to clinch first place for the third straight season.

Even though it wasn't a save situation for Lidge, it was for his manager. Charlie Manuel is trying to save Lidge so he can contribute in the playoffs to Philly's defense of its World Series championship. Lidge was on the mound for the last out against the Tampa Bay Rays this past October.

Against the Astros, Lidge came in for one pitch, a Lance Berkman(notes) grounder to first base that put the fans at Citizens Bank Park into a frenzy.

"I was praying I'd get into the game," said Lidge, who got a nice ovation when he entered. "I'm thankful to Charlie for putting me in. Despite my season, Charlie had my back all year."

Perfect in save opportunties a season ago, Lidge's repeated troubles this season have been one of the few warts on a Phillies team that otherwise might have easily walked away with the division title. Manuel wants to restore Lidge's confidence, even though the closer spot has been given to Ryan Madson(notes).

"I wanted him to pitch in front of the crowd and they responded," Manuel said. "It was good for him."

The Phillies have had some difficulty in the past few days closing out their title, but a four-run fourth inning erased a 3-1 Astros lead and began a string of nine straight runs.

As part of the celebration, the players sprayed celebratory booze on the part of the outfield fence that bears a graphical tribute to announcer Harry Kalas, who died earlier this season.

More to come, including photos!

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