READING - After a scoreless two-inning outing at FirstEnergy Stadium, Phillies closer Brad Lidge appears ready to return to Philadelphia this weekend as planned.

Lidge fanned four of the seven batters he faced for the Double A Reading Phillies in last night's 1-0 loss to the Harrisburg Senators. His fastball fluctuated between 90-93 mph and his slider between 80-84. (Reading's stadium gun registers 2-4 mph slow.)

In his 35-pitch outing, Lidge threw twice as many strikes as balls (24-11).

The closer the Phillies need to win their second World Series in 3 years mixed in a cut fastball and sinking fastball to complement his hard slider. He finished off four batters with sliders in the low-to-mid 80s.

Only one Senator reached base, and that came on an infield error.

"I felt like I was able to put a little on [my fastball] and take a little off my breaking pitches," he said.

Lidge credited his strong command for allowing him to tinker with third and fourth pitches.

Lidge's surgically repaired elbow and knee felt "100 percent" for the third straight outing.

He has convinced himself he's ready to take on the New York Mets on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

"Myself and J.C. [Romero] will allow the relievers to slot themselves into roles and be super-comfortable when I return," he said.

The other big-name pitcher in Reading last night, Harrisburg righthander Stephen Strasburg, appears ready for a promotion from Double A to Triple A after his impressive start.

After five hitless, scoreless innings, the 21-year-old ran his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 17 2/3. The 2009 No. 1 overall draft pick of the Washington Nationals improved to 3-0 and dropped his earned run average to 0.52 on a night when the temperature dipped into the low 50s, which isn't common for the San Diego native.

Said Lidge: "Clearly, I think he's shown he's ready to move on from Double A. I think he'll have the same results at Triple A."

For Strasburg to succeed in the majors, Lidge said, he'll have to prove he can pitch inside to major league batters.

Strasburg, who was being limited to five innings or 85 pitches, used a high-90s fastball to overpower Reading's lineup for the second time this season. Strasburg didn't allow a batted ball to reach the outfield until the fourth inning when Freddy Galvis popped out harmlessly to centerfield.

The hardest drive against Strasburg came off the bat of Brian Stavisky leading off the fifth. The lefthanded batter poked an opposite-field drive to the wall, but leftfielder Bill Rhinehart caught it against the padding.

Strasburg then struck out Michael Spidale, but a passed ball allowed Spidale to reach base and ruin Strasburg's perfect game. Two ground balls helped Strasburg avoid further damage. Strasburg also drove in the game's only run in the top of the fifth inning. His two-out, two-strike single up the middle off Michael Cisco scored Sean Rooney, who had ruined Cisco's no-hitter with one away with an opposite-field double.

While the Phillies are built to win in the majors now, the Nationals are building for the future. After Strasburg exited the game with 64 pitches (42 strikes), Washington's other first-round draft pick finished up for his fourth save. Drew Storen, the 10th player selected in last year's draft out of Stanford, lowered his ERA to 1.08 with two scoreless innings.