Think we can all agree that was not Ryan Madson's finest moment early Saturday morning down at Nationals Park.

He threw 14 more pitches and allowed twice as many runs in two-thirds of an inning than he had in any other appearance this season. The six runs allowed matched a career high for a Madson relief outing and marked only the second time in his career that he allowed more than three runs as a reliever.

What is open for debate is whether the closer issue should now become a cause for concern.

In the past two seasons, of course, it was the cause for concern while Brad Lidge struggled with injuries as he tried in vain to recapture something close to the form he had during his magical 2008 season.

Considering the Phillies went to spring training with Lidge as their closer and have had to use three different pitchers (Jose Contreras, Madson and Antonio Bastardo) in that role since then, it is remarkable that the team has a major-league low four blown saves.

That was only Madson's second blown save of the season and really the only reason there could be any debate about the closer role is because Bastardo has been so amazing in his first full season in the big leagues.

As good as Bastardo has been, however, Madson has to remain manager Charlie Manuel's man. In all likelihood, Madson just needs to recharge his batteries. The appearance Friday night/Saturday morning was the third time since July 30 that Manuel asked Madson to pitch three days in a row. He had not done it all before this month and only did it three times all of last season.

A lot has been made about Manuel monitoring his aces' innings with the Phillies holding a comfortable lead in the National League East and he should do the same with Madson and Bastardo down the stretch, too. Because the Phillies starters go so deep, the Phillies' bullpen has been worked less than any in the National League this season.

Still, the manager would be doing Madson and his entire bullpen a huge favor if the closer does not pitch three days in a row for the remainder of the regular season.

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