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Phillies turn to Happ for Game 3

DENVER - J.A. Happ, who longed for the chance to start a playoff game for the Phillies, will see his wish fulfilled tonight.

DENVER - J.A. Happ, who longed for the chance to start a playoff game for the Phillies, will see his wish fulfilled tonight.

Snow and freezing temperatures in Denver postponed yesterday's scheduled Game 3 of the National League division series against the Colorado Rockies and allowed manager Charlie Manuel to replace the righthanded Pedro Martinez with the rookie lefthander. The best-of-five series is tied at one game apiece.

Manuel revealed yesterday that Happ would have started Game 4, if not for the weather delay. The manager also announced that Game 1 winner Cliff Lee would start tomorrow. If a fifth game is necessary, either Cole Hamels or Joe Blanton will pitch Tuesday in Philadelphia.

"That's on Hamels' regular day, but it depends on how much we use Blanton or Pedro in the next couple of days," Manuel said. "I like lefthanded pitchers against this team, and I think we match up better that way."

If Hamels starts Tuesday, the Phils will have used an all-lefty rotation in the series. Happ is the least experienced of those lefties, but his success this season made him a strong candidate to earn National League Rookie of the Year honors.

"Where he has been, and what he has been through, I think he's ready to pitch, with his poise," Manuel said.

"I have had a lot of anticipation this year, hoping I could help in any way possible," said Happ, 26, who went 12-4, with a 2.93 earned run average this season.

Pitching in relief in Thursday's Game 2 loss, Happ suffered a bruise when a line drive struck the lower part of his left leg. He left the game but said hours later that he was OK.

"Today was much better than yesterday, and I'm expecting it to be even better tomorrow. But it would not have been a factor either way," Happ said. He played catch at Coors Field yesterday.

"I looked at his leg [Friday]," Manuel said. "I saw some swelling on the side of it, but his leg was actually in good shape. The way he moves around, he was fine. The way we had our pitching set up, I always thought J.A. was going to start one of these games. I had him down for the fourth game. What happened with the weather, I thought it was a tremendous way to put all of our lefthanded pitchers on them. He was definitely ready to go tomorrow."

The weather cost Martinez a postseason start, but the veteran smiled yesterday and said he was comfortable with the change. "It is the most reasonable thing to do," he said. "I haven't thrown in 10 days. Difficult weather. Happ has been in there. He has a better feel for the ball."

Martinez said he would be available in the bullpen tonight. "Yeah, I will be. Anything."

He added that he would like to pitch in relief before starting another game because it has been so long since he has thrown.

"He was very understanding, but for the next couple of days, he'll be down in the bullpen, and we won't hesitate to use him if the right situation comes up," Manuel said.

Manuel was glad to assign a start to Happ a game earlier than expected. On Aug. 5, Happ pitched a four-hit shutout against the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park. That was a significant day for Happ, who seemed headed to the bullpen because of the impending arrival of Martinez. But with that dominant performance, the Phils were forced to keep Happ in the rotation.

Manuel, asked yesterday how he would use his bullpen tonight, referred to that August success. "Hopefully, J.A will throw a shutout [tonight] and it won't happen," he said.

Said Happ, "That was a while back, but I am definitely going to try to take that same aggressiveness" into tonight's game.

Soon after he threw that shutout, Happ faced new questions about his role in the postseason. While he expressed sincere willingness to contribute in any way possible, he maintained strong hopes of earning a start. Tonight, he faces the most significant moment in a breakthrough season.

Moyer improving

Jamie Moyer, hospitalized late last week with a blood infection, was discharged yesterday from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. A team spokesman said Moyer felt better and was taking antibiotics. Moyer underwent season-ending surgery to repair tears in his groin and abdominal muscles on Oct. 2.