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October 21, 2008|Jerry Crowe

The only blemish on a virtually flawless season by closer Brad Lidge cost the Philadelphia Phillies home-field advantage in the World Series. . . .

Lidge, unbeaten in two decisions and perfect in 46 regular-season and playoff save opportunities this season, was the losing pitcher in the All-Star game, giving up a 15th-inning sacrifice fly to Michael Young in the American League's 4-3 victory over the National at Yankee Stadium. . . .

Because of that, the Series opens Wednesday at Tampa Bay. . . .

There must be a better way. . . .

By the way, the winning pitcher in the Bronx three months ago was Scott Kazmir of the Tampa Bay Rays, who pitched a scoreless top half of the 15th. . . .

David Price, a 23-year-old phenom who nailed down the Rays' Game 7 victory over the Boston Red Sox for his first major league save, originally was drafted by the Dodgers, who could have used some relief against the Phillies. . . .

Price, the 568th player taken in the 2004 draft, played three seasons at Vanderbilt before the Rays made the left-hander the No. 1 pick in 2007. . . .

Perhaps discounting USC's consecutive shutouts because they came against Pacific 10 Conference opponents, Fox's Terry Bradshaw said Sunday of the top teams in the initial BCS standings, "I don't see a dominant defense." . . .

The Trojans rank second nationally behind Texas Christian. . . .

USC, by the way, has not posted three consecutive shutouts since 1947, when All-American tackle John Ferraro and the Trojans blanked Washington, Stanford and UCLA en route to the Rose Bowl. . . .

Ferraro, of course, later was an L.A. city councilman. . . .

Seven games into the season, Kevin Craft and UCLA still have not completed an overhand touchdown pass to a wide receiver, but Craft's two-yard, six-point flip to wideout Terrence Austin on Saturday helped to defeat Stanford. . . .

Kobe Bryant has kept an unusually low profile this fall. . . .

Baron Davis' finger injury might not be as serious as was being reported Monday, but don't count on the Clippers newcomer playing in all 82 games again this season, as he did last season with the Golden State Warriors. . . .

In the five seasons before 2007-08, Davis averaged 56 games. . . .

One week after a Sports Illustrated poll of NFL players deemed Eli Manning the league's third-most overrated quarterback, another SI poll named the New York Giants signal-caller the NFL's second-most underrated quarterback. . . .

Topping the polls: David Garrard of the Jacksonville Jaguars (most underrated) and Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers (most overrated). . . .

LenDale White, whose 80-yard touchdown run Sunday helped the Tennessee Titans remain the NFL's only unbeaten team, never had a run of more than 66 yards at USC nor a run of more than 28 in the NFL before Sunday. . . .

Reggie Bush's longest NFL run from scrimmage: 26 yards. . . .

Declining TV ratings be damned, reader Gary Weaver of Upland e-mails to note, "Yes, millions of us still consider baseball the national pastime. What other sport has huge crowds across the country every night?" . . .

Phillies General Manager Pat Gillick, who also built playoff teams with the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners and a two-time World Series winner with the Toronto Blue Jays, was a USC pitcher when the Trojans won the College World Series in 1958. . . .

As several readers noted, sometimes a nifty nickname is alliterative, as in the case of Ted "The Splendid Splinter" Williams, but sometimes it only rhymes, as in the case of Shane "The Flyin' Hawaiian" Victorino. . . .

USC and UCLA hope to break the NCAA women's soccer attendance record Friday night by drawing more than 14,410 fans to the Coliseum, where the Trojans' Amy Rodriguez and the Bruins' Lauren Cheney will line up on opposite sides only two months after combining forces to help the U.S. win Olympic gold in Beijing. . . .

It's still early, of course, but Anze Kopitar and the surprising Kings might finish ahead of the wingless Ducks in the Pacific Division. . . .

That hasn't happened since the 2003-04 season. . . .

Reader Bob Tucker of Solvang wonders, "Does Sarah Palin go parasailin'?" . . .

She is outdoorsy.

jerome.crowe@latimes.com

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