It was a welcome sight for a Phillies team trying to gather momentum for an unlikely second-half run at a playoff berth.
An even more welcome vision materialized in the top of the eighth inning when Hunter Pence delivered a two-out, bases-loaded single to center field that provided a 3-2 victory and stretched the Phillies' winning streak to four games.
It marked the first time the Phillies won this season when trailing after seven innings and it ensured a second straight series victory, a feat they had not accomplished since taking three of four in St. Louis and two of three against the Mets in New York at the end of May. It's also the team's first four-game winning streak since May 23 through 26.
"The second half, it feels a lot different," Pence said. "But also - where we are? - there is no tomorrow. We still have a long way to go, but, yeah, there is something that feels different. It's big-time different."
The Phillies scored just once in six innings against Stephen Fife in the righthander's major-league debut, but they took advantage of a wild streak by Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario in the eighth.
Belisario retired the first two batters of the inning before issuing a walk to Chase Utley. The reliever loaded the bases by hitting Ryan Howard in the left foot with a 1-2 pitch and Carlos Ruiz in the elbow with a 3-2 pitch, prompting Dodgers manager Don Mattingly to call in his closer, Kenley Jansen.
Pence grounded a 2-1 pitch up the middle, scoring Utley and pinch-runner John Mayberry Jr. It was Pence's second hit of the night with runners in scoring position, a situation that has been his albatross this season. He also hit his first three-run homer of the season Sunday in Colorado.
The oft-maligned Phillies bullpen contributed four shutout innings. Despite some loud outs, Michael Schwimer and Jeremy Horst covered the sixth and Kyle Kendrick got the next five outs and was credited with the victory. Antonio Bastardo struck out Andre Ethier for the final out of the eighth and perhaps the biggest out of the game.
Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth and nailed down his second save in as many nights and 21st overall with a perfect inning.
Halladay threw a total of 80 pitches and struck out six without walking a batter. He's not accustomed to leaving after five innings, but he knows he has to be patient after missing seven weeks.
"I feel like each time it's getting a little bit better," he said. "I felt like things improved from the rehab start. You know I want to go deeper, more than five innings, but overall I was happy with the pitch execution."
Halladay's first inning would have gone better only if he had not needed 18 pitches to retire the side in order. Still, it was an impressive way to start.
He caught Bobby Abreu looking at a called third strike on a cut fastball, then got Mark Ellis looking at a cut fastball before retiring Matt Kemp on a fly ball to left field on a 3-2 pitch.
In the second, the Dodgers strung together four straight hits to start the inning. Ethier singled to left field to open the inning and Kennedy dropped a double down the right-field line. James Loney and Luis Cruz followed with RBI singles to give Los Angeles a 2-1 lead.
Halladay prevented the inning from being any worse by getting A.J. Ellis to hit into a line-drive double play to Utley before Fife struck out looking.
The Dodgers managed just one hit - a single by Mark Ellis - and Halladay struck out three over his final three innings. He left trailing, 2-1.
The Phillies went 15-27 without Halladay, and the starting rotation was 12-19 with a 4.72 ERA. They are 26-24 with Halladay, and the rotation is 19-16 with a 3.33 ERA.
How can one starting pitcher have that much of an impact?
"You lose an anchor - a steady anchor," Dubee said. "Now, all of a sudden, your two guy has to feel like he has to pitch up to a one or a plus-one. The pressure and expectations increase. It's like when you move a five-hitter to the three- or four-hole. Now, all of a sudden, he has to be a bigger piece than he had to be."
The three and four hitters are back, and now so is Halladay.
Cliff Lee and the Phillies have a chance to complete a three-game sweep Wednesday afternoon, a feat they have not accomplished against any team this season. Halladay thinks a postseason run remains possible for a team that is still 10 games under .500.
"It's baseball," Halladay said. "We saw it happen last year with Atlanta and St. Louis getting in and going all the way and winning the World Series. It has happened before. It's going to be difficult. There is a long way to go and it's a steep hole to climb, but I think there has to be a positive mentality, especially when you have the players we have."
Contact Bob Brookover at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @brookob on Twitter.