Astros' Lidge determined to bounce back from rough '06

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KISSIMMEE, FL -- Brad Lidge tried every bit of advice he got last season from teammates, coaches -- just about everyone.

Nothing worked, and Lidge lost his job as the Houston Astros
closer.

He'd been one of baseball's most intimidating pitchers in 2004
and '05. But Lidge blew six saves in 2006 and ended the year with a
five-point-28 earned-run average.

Fans and other so-called experts figured Lidge had become a head
case. They figured he'd become haunted by the home run he gave up
to Albert Pujols in the 2005 N-L-C-S when he was a
strike away from sending the Astros to the World Series.

Although Houston still advanced, Lidge gave up the winning home
run in Game Two and was the losing pitcher when the Chicago White
Sox completed a sweep. The difficulties continued in 2006.

Lidge insists his problems were purely mechanical, a glitch in
his delivery that led to wildness and inconsistency.

Now, with help from Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, Lidge thinks
he straightened out his motion. He came to spring training
determined to regain his form.