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Lidge never lost faith in Astros

Lidge never lost faith in Astros

ST. LOUIS -- Brad Lidge didn't watch sports channels in his hotel room in St. Louis on Tuesday, but it didn't matter. He still couldn't avoid the dozens upon dozens of replays of Albert Pujols' moon shot off him that sent the National League Championship Series to a Game 6.

That's because it wasn't just ESPN that was rerunning the clip. Every news outlet, from "The Today Show" to MSNBC showed it, over and over, while doubting the Astros would win another playoff game this year.

"I turned on CNN," Lidge said. "It was on CNN. It was hard to get away from it."

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Instead of turning the television off, Lidge watched.

"I kind of used it as fuel, and I was hoping to get in [the game] again [in Game 6]," he said.

He didn't. The Astros won by four, and the ninth inning was a non-save situation.

"Now I'm going to have a chance to pitch in the World Series," Lidge said. "So I don't even care what happened."

The Astros insisted they put it out of their minds soon after Pujols silenced a dumbstruck crowd, one that moments earlier watched its team get to within one strike of a Game 5 win. Lidge stood tall at his locker after the game, assuring reporters that the Astros were still in control with a 3-2 advantage in the NLCS.

He believed, as did his teammates. The public? Not so much.

"I knew we weren't going to lose just because of what happened," Lidge said. "A lot of people, when it happened, were saying, 'That was it. It's all over.'

"You saw the replay 100 times. It was frustrating for me, because I knew, and everybody on our team knew, that we were going to come back and win. Now everyone else knows how resilent our team is."

In that respect, Pujols' home run just added to the mystique of these 2005 Astros, who rose from the dead at 15-30 on May 24 to win the Wild Card, beat the Braves and beat the Cardinals to go to the first World Series in franchise history.

How many times were the Astros written off? In a season of adversity, Lidge's hanging slider to Pujols was probably the 101st reason the Astros were not, on paper, at least, going to the World Series.

But they always believed in themselves. Wednesday was just another "I told you so" moment, one of dozens they've had this season.

"That's what we've done the whole year," Lidge said. "We've gotten through a ton of adversity and this is just an example of what we're capable of."

Lidge isn't accustomed to disappointing his team. He logged 42 saves in 46 opportunities during the regular season, and he saved three of the first four games of the LCS before Monday's loss.

Had a save situation appeared in Game 6, manager Phil Garner would have put him right back into the fire.

"To his credit, he was ready to pitch an inning or two if we needed him," Garner said. "I thought we had a little bit of room, but Brad was up and ready to come in. Brad has picked us up all year and we are not here without Brad Lidge.

"If the game is on the line again in any circumstances, he's our guy to go to in that situation. I don't think anybody felt any pressure to have to do that, and Brad would have been just fine if he needed to pitch tonight."

"Brad Lidge has been so dominant for us," Craig Biggio said. "We have a lot of faith and confidence in him, and 99.8 percent of the time he gets the job done."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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