Halladay brings Phillies fans to their feet with strong outing

STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Roy Halladay leaves the field during a rain delay in the seventh inning. Halladay had six strikeouts and gave up two walks and two runs in the Phillies' 8-2 win over the Cardinals, which was called after seven innings due to the weather.
STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Roy Halladay leaves the field during a rain delay in the seventh inning. Halladay had six strikeouts and gave up two walks and two runs in the Phillies' 8-2 win over the Cardinals, which was called after seven innings due to the weather.
Posted: April 21, 2013

WITH A RUNNER on base and two outs in the seventh inning, a large portion of the 45,092 people at Citizens Bank Park rose from their seats and let out a hearty applause.

Since the news had just broke in Boston that one of the Boston Marathon bombers had been caught, one observer did a quick sweep of the ballpark with his eyes to see whether it had been announced on a video screen at the ballpark.

But, no, this wasn't about the manhunt that had almost all of America glued to its televisions from the early morning until after sunset. This was about the man on the middle of the mound, fashioning off his second straight stellar start.

The cheers were for Phillies righthander Roy Halladay, who held the St. Louis Cardinals to two hits in seven innings as the slumping Phillies arms and bats both came to surface in an 8-2 victory.

"Today was about as close as I've felt to where I want to be," Halladay said after allowing two hits in seven innings.

Shortly after the motivating applause from the South Philly faithful, Halladay got Tony Cruz to ground out to second base to complete the top of the seventh inning, and, as it turned out, the game. As Halladay walked off the mound, the crowd's approval wasn't quite as loud, as many took cover for the concourse.

A teeming rain descended on the ballpark almost immediately after the final out of the inning, beginning a rain delay. Thirty-five minutes later, with rain in the forecast for the remainder of the night, the game was called.

After beginning the season 0-2 with a 14.73 ERA in his first two starts, Halladay is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last two. Opponents are hitting .137 against Halladay in his last two starts.

"I thought he did very good," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Even when he got behind, he made quality pitches. He was able to locate the ball on both sides of the plate."

Halladay's two-start turnaround is somewhat remarkable, given how ineffective he looked the first two times he took the mound, following an uncertain spring training.

In his first two starts, Halladay gave up 12 runs on 12 hits and never recorded an out in the fifth inning. The normally durable starter saw his pitch counts close in on 90 in the third inning.

But then Halladay went eight strong in Miami on Sunday, holding the meek Marlins lineup to one run. And people reminded him afterward that it was the meek Marlins.

So all Halladay did 5 days later was dominate a Cardinals team that scored the fifth-most runs in baseball last season (and second most in the National League).

"It feels good when you have the good feeling and you know you're doing things right, and that you can correct it when you know you're not doing it right," Halladay said.

Halladay held St. Louis to two solo home runs: a Carlos Beltran blast to lead off the second and a Matt Holliday fence-scratcher to begin the seventh.

After Beltran's home run, Halladay retired 14 straight.

Following Holliday's home run, Halladay struck out Beltran and Allen Craig before walking former teammate Ty Wigginton on four pitches. After fighting back from a 3-1 count against Cruz, Halladay tuned out the roaring crowd and got his seventh groundout to end the inning.

"Maybe he was getting a little creative [at the end]," Manuel said of Halladay, who threw 109 pitches. "But he finished the inning and did a good job."

Halladay's seven innings in the abbreviated game were enough for him to record the 67th complete game of his career and his first since Sept. 14, 2011.

The only thing Friday that resembled his first two starts was how Halladay repeatedly fell behind batters. He threw first-pitch strikes to only 11 of the 25 batters he faced.

But unlike his first two starts, Halladay didn't let that rattle him, and instead mixed his pitchers masterfully to baffle the Cards' bats.

"He was behind more tonight than in Florida," Manuel said, "but he kept his composure and stayed after it."

It didn't hurt that he took the mound in the second inning with a 5-0 lead.

After going 8 days without scoring a run before the sixth inning, and four consecutive games without a walk, the Phillies did both in the first inning on Friday. Chase Utley worked a two-out walk off St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia to begin a five-run first inning.

John Mayberry Jr. (double), Ben Revere (triple) and Humberto Quintero (double) all drove in runs during the inning.

"We got a walk, didn't we?" a self-deprecating Manuel said. "We put together some runs. That's always good. That'll bring some life to your team."


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On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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