The Phillies have the best road record in baseball. They are 16-6 outside The Bank.

Check back around midnight on June 11.

Between now and then, the Phillies' road warrior creds will be put through a thorough stress test. After yesterday's 4-2 win over the Nationals, they flew to the opposite edge of the continent where they'll play the Padres tonight in the first of a three-game series.

San Diego is 17-6 at Petco Field.

Then it's on to Dodger Stadium for four games, where first-place Los Angeles is 18-5.

The getaway game has been moved to Sunday night for ESPN, so that will be followed by a red-eye flight to New York. After an off day they'll play three at Citi Field, where the Mets are 17-9.

"Maybe we'll find out a little what we're made of," said veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer. "We've got a big trip ahead of us. So it's nice to go there with a little bit of momentum [after sweeping Washington].

"It's June and there's a lot of baseball left to be played. But as long as we can stay away from losses [like the injury to Brett Myers], I think we'll be OK."

Added lefthander Cole Hamels: "This could really set us up for the summer and what it will be like further down the line."

Manager Charlie Manuel allowed that the team is facing "a big road trip. Huge."

Then he added: "We're going to be fine."

3 . . . 2 . . . 1

Lefthanded reliever J.C. Romero started and pitched two-thirds of an inning for Triple A Lehigh Valley against Rochester yesterday, allowing one hit and one walk, then drove to Philadelphia in time to join the team for its flight to San Diego.

It was Romero's last rehab appearance as he prepared to be activated after serving a 50-game suspension for violating major league baseball's policy against performance-enhancing substances.

"I'm trying not to get too excited because I don't want to get too hyper," Romero said. "But it's time to put everything else aside and play baseball. I'm ready. I'm just going to try to relax the next couple days and see how things go.

"Fifty games. Let's say it's past due. But now it's my job to go out there, have some quality outings and take some pressure off the rest of the bullpen."

Lefthander Antonio Bastardo, who will make his major league debut tomorrow night against the Padres, also checked in yesterday after being recalled from Lehigh Valley late Saturday night. Bastardo was not available to speak because the Phillies couldn't find a translator to assist the 23-year-old native of the Dominican Republic.

The Phillies will make a roster move after tonight's game in San Diego to create a roster spot for Bastardo, and another after tomorrow night's game to accommodate Romero, who will be eligible to pitch on Wednesday.

They currently have four lefthanders in the rotation: Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer, J.A. Happ and Bastardo; Joe Blanton is the lone righthander.

Out on the Lidge

Closer Brad Lidge recorded his fourth straight save yesterday, after blowing two straight opportunities at Yankee Stadium the previous weekend, and failing to convert in four of his first 12 tries.

"Even when I wasn't going good, I felt like this was going to happen," he said. "It just didn't happen as soon as I thought it would."

Lidge said he believes he turned the corner May 24 in New York. Even though he once again failed to hold a lead in the bottom of the ninth, it came on a couple softly hit singles.

"When I'm myself, I feel very confident and I know what I can do," he said. "I really began to feel that way the second game in New York. Even though the results weren't there, I knew right then that it would be a turning point."

The Peavy report

With Brett Myers likely to miss the rest of the season following hip surgery, the possibility of the Phillies trading for Padres' righthander Jake Peavy has been a hot topic.

Well, Peavy's next start has been pushed back a day, to tomorrow night. In his last start he experienced some elbow tendinitis and loss of velocity. He was also pitching with a painful right ankle, an injury suffered while running the bases on May 22, so the Padres decided to give him an extra day of rest. *