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We'll Take It: Phillies 3, Padres 2

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The bad news is that the Phillies failed to score more than three runs for the twelfth consecutive game. The lineup generated threats in only three of the eight innings in which it came to bat and, in total, collected only six hits (although it also added five walks and a HBP).

The good news, of course, was that Roy Halladay was pitching tonight, in his first start since his perfect game against the Marlins last Saturday (which was also the last game the Phils had won). After Halladay retired the first two batters of the game, Adrian Gonzalez singled, keeping Johnny Vander Meer's record of two consecutive no-hitters and Mark Buehrle's record of forty-five consecutive outs safe for another day. Halladay was not at his absolute sharpest, giving up a run on three singles in the second, and a second run on a Gonzalez sacrifice fly in the fifth. In all, though, it was good enough to keep the game winnable even for an anemic offense.

The other piece of good news was that the lineup's approaches at the plate seemed - marginally, in fits and starts - better than those we'd seen for the previous eleven games. After looking as grounded as ever for the first two-and-a-third innings, the Phils broke through in the third with a single by Roy Halladay, followed by a home run by Shane Victorino (only their second homer since their slump began on May 22). In the fifth, they took the lead for good on a bases-loaded walk by Jayson Werth. Padres starting pitcher Mat Latos was forced for the game with a pitch count of 103 over five innings, and Padres pitchers threw 160 pitches combined - the highest per-inning figure that Phillies batters have induced since the infamous Mick Billmeyer game on May 10, when they put nine runs on the board in Coors FIeld while forcing Rockies pitchers to throw 194 pitches. Struggling power hitters Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth all worked walks. Hopefully, it's a sign that they're finally starting to "see the ball better" and that happier times are close at hand.

Halladay left the game after seven innings, having thrown a very reasonable 108 pitches (80 of which were strikes). Jose Contreras began the eighth but worked his way into trouble with an HBP and a walk, bringing shockingly slim pinch-hitter/local folk hero Matt Stairs to the plate with two on and one out. Charlie Manuel replaced Contreras with J.C. Romero, prompting Padres manager Bud Black to replace Stairs with a righthanded batter - whom Romero walked. But Romero escaped in one of his patented high-wire acts, by causing Chris Denorfia to ground into a 5-3 double play to end the inning.

The Phillies loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth but failed to tack on any insurance runs, with Brad Lidge (whose long consecutive-saves streak came to an end against the Padres last April) looming in the bullpen. But as it turned out, Lidge was DOMINANT in the ninth, setting the Padres down in order and striking out the last two batters on nasty, nasty sliders.

Jamie Moyer will try to keep it going against the surprising Jon Garland tomorrow night. The Dodgers are, as of now, beating the Braves, so let's hope what we're seeing now is the turning of the tide.