Halladay and the Phillies look to avoid a fifth straight loss when they host the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.
Halladay won Cy Young Awards in 2003 and 2010, and finished second in 2011, but he fought injuries last year and had struggled mightily through his first two starts this season. He had been tagged for 12 runs and 12 hits, not lasting past the fourth inning in either outing.
Halladay turned it around Sunday in a 2-1 win over Miami, allowing one run and five hits in eight innings. He nearly halved his ERA (14.73 to 7.63) and earned career victory No. 200 - the first pitcher to reach that milestone in a Phillies uniform since Steve Carlton in 1978.
"More than anything, I had been putting a lot of pressure on myself," said Halladay, who is 4-3 with a 2.57 ERA in eight career starts against St. Louis, including the postseason. "In the past I tried to control too much and do too much and worry about too much. Today the plan was simpler - execute pitches one at a time, and not worry about what's going on, and it made a big difference."
Now, the Phillies (6-10) get to see if Halladay is returning to form or if his performance was more a result of facing the lowly Marlins and the majors' worst offense.
The Cardinals (9-6) will present a far stiffer challenge, and they bounced back from their own poor offensive performance to beat Philadelphia 4-3 in Thursday's series opener. One night after getting only one hit – a Carlos Beltran double – in a 5-0 loss at Pittsburgh, St. Louis had seven hits, which was enough to beat the Phillies.
Beltran hit the tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning and had his first multi-hit game since April 6 to help St. Louis to its sixth win in eight contests. Yadier Molina added three hits and two RBIs for the Cardinals.
"He had a great night for us," manager Mike Matheny said of Beltran. "It's not easy to hit the ball out the other way, but we've had no bigger hit this season."
Beltran has had great success against Halladay, batting .326 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 46 at-bats. He also enjoys hitting at Citizens Bank Park, where he has 12 homers.
"It's a good ballpark to hit in," Beltran said. "Anything can happen if you hit the ball good. I hit it pretty good but I never thought it was going to leave the ballpark."
Jaime Garcia (1-0, 1.86) takes the mound for the Cardinals. Garcia has been stellar this season, allowing four runs in 19 1-3 innings over three starts. He pitched seven scoreless innings against Milwaukee on Sunday, but the bullpen faltered in an eventual 4-3 loss.
He's 2-3 with a 2.30 ERA in six career starts against Philadelphia, including a loss in the 2011 playoffs.
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|March 24, 2013||Rafael Furcal||15-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|March 23, 2013||David Freese||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|March 23, 2013||David Freese||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|March 22, 2013||Jason Motte||15-Day DL||Strained right elbow|
|March 07, 2013||Rafael Furcal||Day-to-Day||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|February 22, 2013||Chris Carpenter||60-Day DL||Nerve irritation, right shoulder|
|April 18, 2013||John Lannan||15-Day DL||Strained left quadriceps tendon|
|March 22, 2013||Delmon Young||15-Day DL||Recovery from right ankle surgery|
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- This was more like the Roy Halladay everyone is used to.
Halladay tossed a two-hitter over seven innings and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the St. Louis Cardinals 8-2 Friday night in a rain-shortened game to snap a four-game losing streak.
Halladay (2-2) allowed two runs, walked two and struck out six to record a complete game. He's had consecutive strong outings after starting the season with two poor ones. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is coming off an injury-plagued, subpar year, but has looked like his old self this week.
"Today was as close as I've felt to where I want to be," Halladay said. "When I stay within myself and execute the mechanics the way they should be done, I feel good where I'm at."
Jimmy Rollins , Ben Revere , Humberto Quintero and John Mayberry Jr. each had two hits for the Phillies, who busted out of their slump with five runs off Jaime Garcia (1-1) in the first inning.
Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday hit solo homers for the Cardinals.
Garcia allowed eight runs - four earned - and nine hits in three innings.
"They put some good swings on the pitches I was making," Garcia said. "No excuse. I just didn't get the job done."
The game was called after a 35-minute rain delay before the bottom of the seventh.
Chase Utley started Philadelphia's big first inning with a two-out walk, snapping the Phillies' unusual streak of four games without drawing one. Michael Young followed with a single. Mayberry ripped an RBI double to left. Then Kevin Frandsen hit a sharp grounder, but third baseman Ty Wigginton made a diving grab. Wigginton, however, made a wild throw to first and the error allowed two runs to score.
"I just pulled it wide left," Wigginton said. "I feel like it's a play I make the majority of time. I don't know if I rushed. I know I didn't really get the grip I'd like to have. It's part of baseball. We were hoping to keep them there. But they started finding the gaps."
Revere ripped an RBI triple to left-center for his first extra-base hit in his 66th at-bat, and Quintero lined an RBI double to make it 5-0.
Utley had an RBI single in the second, and Quintero drove in a run on a single in the third.
The Phillies helped Halladay with excellent defense. Left fielder Freddy Galvis made a diving, backhanded catch on a sharp liner and Revere made a headfirst sliding catch on a ball to shallow center.
"We did some good playing the first few innings," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Halladay allowed 12 runs and 12 hits in 7 1-3 innings in his first two starts. But he was solid against a weak Marlins lineup last Sunday, giving up one run and five hits in eight innings.
The Cardinals were a tougher test. Halladay only made two bad pitches, and Beltran and Holliday got hold of both.
"It's a big difference with a nice lead," Halladay said. "You can be aggressive and attack hitters."
After a rough spring training was followed up by early troubles, many wondered if Halladay was on the decline. He's thrown a ton of innings and is 35. But Halladay knew it was a matter of time before he got the results he wanted.
"I always felt I was going in the right direction," he said. "Once I got a chance to pitch deeper in games, do more bullpens, I felt I was able to take some of that over into the game."
Notes: Suspended Phillies C Carlos Ruiz was hit on the left wrist in an extended spring game. X-rays were negative and he's day to day. ... The Phillies hadn't scored a run before the sixth inning in their previous seven games. ... Young extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Cardinals C Yadier Molina had his first game off this season. Tony Cruz started in his spot. ... RHP Lance Lynn (2-0, 5.40) goes against LHP Cliff Lee (2-0, 1.52) on Saturday night.