Between frosty breaths on the mound, Brad Lidge warmed to the challenge and erased a season of frustration.
Philadelphia's beleaguered closer stranded runners at first and second on a bitterly cold Sunday night when he retired Troy Tulowitzki on a flyball for the final out, preserving the Phillies' 6-5 win over the Colorado Rockies in Game 3 of their NL playoff series.
"When the postseason starts, it's a completely clean slate," said Lidge, who is from Denver. "It's definitely a treat to be able to play here right now, get a chance to pitch in front of family and friends."
Huston Street allowed Ryan Howard's sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth that scored Jimmy Rollins with the tiebreaking run after another blown call by the umpires.
In a game that started with temperatures near freezing and ended past midnight, the defending World Series champs took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. They can wrap it up Monday when they send Game 1 winner Cliff Lee against Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez.
The save was surely sweet redemption for Lidge. He converted all 48 save chances last year, capped when he struck out Tampa Bay's Eric Hinske in Game 5 to clinch the Phillies' World Series title. But he lost his perfect touch this season — he led the majors with 11 blown saves, went 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA and briefly lost his job in September.
"He's had ups and downs," Howard said. "Right now he's here to finish games. That's what matters. I was glad to see him out there."
Angels Sweep Red Sox, Advance to ALCS
Vladimir Guerrero and the Los Angeles Angels shrugged off their postseason failures and swept the Boston Red Sox out of the playoffs.
Guerrero hit a two-out, two-run single off Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning and the Angels rallied past Boston 7-6 in Game 3 Sunday, advancing to the AL championship series for the first time since 2005.
Guerrero delivered the biggest hit of his stellar, capping a three-run comeback in the ninth and giving the Angels their first postseason sweep in franchise history.
Papelbon had never allowed a run in the postseason before the Angels tagged him. He was within a strike of ending the game a few times, but couldn't put it away.
The Red Sox elected to intentionally walk Torii Hunter with runners on second and third to bring up Guerrero.
Los Angeles trailed 5-1 early, was behind 5-2 after seven innings and still down 6-4 when Papelbon retired the first two batters of the ninth. But Erick Aybar singled, Chone Figgins walked and Bobby Abreu singled in one run — Papelbon had not been charged with a run in 26 postseason innings entering the game.
Yankees Sweep Twins
Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hit seventh-inning home runs to spoil Carl Pavano's opportunity to frustrate New Yorkers one more time, and the Yankees advanced to their first AL championship series in five years with a 4-1 victory and sweep of the Minnesota Twins on Sunday night.
This classic postseason pitching duel between former teammates Andy Pettitte and Pavano ended with another first-round playoff victory at the Metrodome for the Yankees, who also eliminated the Twins here in 2003 and 2004.
Nick Punto wasted a leadoff double in the eighth by failing to see that Denard Span's single didn't leave the infield, and he was thrown out trying to retreat to third base, wasting a chance for the Twins to tie it.