Lidge returned to Houston on Thursday night and looked like his old, overpowering self while earning his 12th save in the Philadelphia Phillies' 7-5 victory over his former team.
But there was more to it than that.
He heard an odd mix of boos and cheers when he trotted out from the visitors' bullpen. He struck out Michael Bourn, one of the players the Astros acquired for him in a big trade last November.
And he got Lance Berkman, one of baseball's top hitters, to pop out on the first pitch for the final out.
"It was a lot of fun for me, a lot of adrenaline," Lidge said. "Coming in a situation like that, it doesn't get much better than that. That's what we play this game for, to have situations like that. It felt great."
Lidge saved 72 games in six seasons in Houston, but was traded away after blowing 14 saves over the last two. It all started with Albert Pujols' three-run homer in Game 5 of the 2005 NL Championship Series, but Lidge looked more like the dominant closer he was before that fateful hit, needing only 13 pitches Thursday night to finish off Houston.
"Ever since I got traded, it's only human nature to want to do good against your old team and face them again," Lidge said. "I guess it's official that that part of my career is over. Obviously, I have a ton of great memories in Houston, I had a lot of great things happen. But I'm in Philly now and I'm happy now."
Ty Wigginton had two RBIs for the Astros, who lost for the third time in their last 13 home games.
"We were in striking distance in the ninth inning and I had my big boys coming up," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "I liked my chances there and that is all you can ask for."
The public-address system used to blare the heavy-metal song "The Game" when Lidge appeared from the home bullpen. This time, "Panama" from Van Halen was playing.
When Lidge's name was announced, half the crowd stood and applauded, while the other half offered loud boos. Lidge said he didn't notice, another sign that he's put his frustrating days in Houston behind him.
"There was a time when I was concerned about what the fans in Houston said or did," he said, "but not anymore."
The matchup all the fans were anticipating fizzled when Berkman got under a fastball off the plate.
"It's just very difficult to square the ball up against him," Berkman said. "I hit it as good as I could, but it went straight up in the air, so that did not do us a whole lot of good."
Houston starter Roy Oswalt was hit hard again, giving up five runs and 11 hits. He also gave up 11 hits in a loss to Texas on Saturday.
"I haven't been comfortable all year," said Oswalt, who is 4-4 with a 5.61 ERA. "I've had some quality starts, but I haven't gotten in that zone where I feel like I can throw a seven- or eight-inning shutout. Every inning feels like a battle."
Berkman's RBI double off the left-field scoreboard gave the Astros a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Berkman went 1-for-10 in three games against the Chicago Cubs earlier this week and still came into the game hitting .500 (36-for-72) in May.
Howard and Feliz led off the second with singles and Oswalt walked Geoff Jenkins to load the bases. Dobbs lined out, but Ruiz singled to score Howard.
The Phillies scored three runs in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead. Howard and Feliz knocked in runs with hits and Howard later scored on a sacrifice fly by Jenkins.
Howard led off the fifth with a long homer onto the left-field porch, his 13th of the season, to make it 5-2.
Wigginton drove a two-run double down the left-field line in the sixth and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel replaced Kendrick with Ryan Madson.
Manuel started Dobbs in place of Burrell, who was 3-for-27 in his previous eight games. Burrell had started 47 of the Phillies' first 48 games. ... Shane Victorino made a diving catch in shallow center to grab Matsui's blooper leading off the third. ... The Phillies lead the majors with 70 home runs.