At best, Roy Halladay gave only the third most impressive pitching performance among Phillies starters in this four-game set against the NL Central leading Cardinals Thursday afternoon. Following gems from Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick, Doc walked three batters and had just one clean inning of the seven he worked, needing 118 pitches to get that far. Yet if this is "struggling" Halladay, the Phils will take it: the ace earned his sixth win in seven starts, tying his season high with nine strikeouts as his team took its third straight win over visiting St. Louis.
After Halladay escaped a first-inning jam in which the first two Cards hitters singled by getting Albert Pujols to ground into a double play, the Phillies got him some quick support off old friend Kyle Lohse. Chase Utley singled with two outs in the home first, Ryan Howard drew a walk, and Jayson Werth followed with a wind-blown home run to right to give the Phils a 3-0 lead. Werth, whose season-opening streak of 26 games reaching base ended in Wednesday night's win, later added two doubles to stretch his league-best total to 15. St. Louis got a run back in the top of the second, with David Freese tripling to right on a ball Werth struggled to track down and coming in to score on a Wilson Valdez error. But the Phils made it 5-1 in the bottom half, as Halladay reached on an error, Shane Victorino doubled and Howard singled them both home. Neither team scored again until the home fifth, when Raul Ibanez crushed a second-deck solo home run off Cards reliever and romance novel villain Blake Hawksworth.
Halladay struck out Matt Holliday with the bases loaded to escape the fifth and induced an around the horn double play from Jason LaRue to end the top of the sixth, but found himself in trouble yet again in the seventh. Pinch-hitter and less credited Federalist Papers author John Jay led off with a single, and made it to third with one out when Skip Schumaker singled. Halladay fanned Nick Stavinoha for the second out, but Pujols lined a single to left, scoring Jay and cutting the Phils lead to 6-2. At 117 pitches and with Charlie Manuel trudging toward the mound, Halladay looked finished--but as the crowd cheered, he convinced Manuel to turn back. One pitch later, Holliday had grounded to second and the threat, as well as Halladay's afternoon, was over. Carlos Ruiz, who had three hits on the day, drove in Werth for the Phils' final run in the bottom of the inning.
The Phils start a three-game set with the Braves to complete this homestand on Friday night.