He was at 91 pitches after five grueling innings, and pitching in more extreme heat six days after succumbing to heat exhaustion after just four innings in Chicago, it looked like Roy Halladays 21st start of the year might be another short one.
Then, magically, he turned back into Roy Halladay.
Halladay allowed eight hits and a walk and three runs -- two earned -- in his first 4 23 innings, then didnt allow another baserunner over his final 3 13 innings, and the Phillies won their fifth straight game, 5-3 over the Padres at Citizens Bank Park.
After averaging 18 pitches in the first five innings, Halladay needed only 24 pitches to get through the last three innings.
So much for heat exhaustion.
On a day nearly as hot as the one in Chicago, Halladay gave the Phillies eight strong innings on 116 pitches.
I saw that his pitch count was uncharacteristically high for him (after five innings), but thats Roy Halladay, said Raul Ibanez, who had a couple hits and was robbed of a home run. He knows when he needs to get efficient, and he got efficient when he needed to.
Heat exhaustion? On this 95-degree day, Halladay just got stronger and stronger.
I havent had a problem with that in the past, Halladay said. It snuck up and got me. I wasnt worried about it happening again. It wasnt a concern. Getting back out and trying to be consistent and make good pitches was what I was trying to do.
Halladay allowed eight hits and a walk in his first 4 23 innings. Nine of the first 24 batters he faced reached safely. None of the last 10 he faced reached safely.
I felt like early on there were times we made good pitches and didnt get the results we wanted and really it was just a matter of trying to stay aggressive and stay with our plan, Halladay said. I felt like I had good stuff from the first inning on but a couple pitches that were OK pitches that didnt get results. Fortunately, later on we got some quicker outs.
Halladay allowed eight hits and three runs, two earned. He struck out eight and walked one. This was the 16th time in 21 starts hes thrown at least 110 pitches and the 17th time hes gone seven innings or more.
He can smell the finish line, manager Charlie Manuel said. You can see it. ... When he goes out there, he goes out there to start the game and finish it. Hes got that mentality. Today, they were swinging the bats pretty good at him, they were pretty aggressive, and they were swinging at some first pitches and they got some hits off him, but he settled in and he pitched pretty good. He was better at the end than he was early.
Anybody who thought Halladay might be content to take it easy in the blazing midday sun six days after nearly passing out from heat exhaustion just doesnt know Roy Halladay.
Thats just his competitive nature, going out there and doing his thing, said Ryan Howard, who had his first multi-hit game since the All-Star break.
I think a lot of people probably had questions from what happened in Chicago and if hed be able to handle it because I think it might have been a little bit warmer here than it was there. But he went out, and I think he showed everybody and answered all those questions on the mound today.
Halladay said there may have been more going on last week in Chicago than just heat exhaustion. He said he had been fighting a stomach virus for a couple days before he pitched.
It wasnt bothering me the day I pitched, but the thought was that maybe it ate up my strength, he said. But Im over it and anxious to move forward.
Halladay worked out of trouble in the top of the fifth, striking out Kyle Phillips looking on a 3-2 pitch on the inside corner to strand the potential tying runners on second and third. He then retired the side in order in the sixth, seventh and eighth.
The bottom of the lineups coming up, so I felt like ... youre not going to give in, Halladay said. The tying runs on second base and youre going to try to continue to make pitches. I tried to make the best pitch I could and get a good result, but thats a spot where youre trying to make a pitchers pitch. Youre not going to throw one in there, and fortunately we got a good result and get out of it.
With the win, the Phillies reached the 100-game mark with a major-league-leading 64 wins against 36 losses. After a 37-26 start, theyre 27-10 since June 10. They extended their N.L. East lead to 5 12 games pending the Braves night game at Cincinnati. Their largest lead of the year is six games, on June 18.
The Phillies seek a four-game series sweep on Monday afternoon. Although theyve won nine straight series and 12 of their last 13, they havent swept a series since taking three off the Marlins in mid-June, and they havent swept a four-game series since taking four off these same Padres in San Diego in April. Their last home four-game sweep came this time last year, when they beat the Rockies in four straight from July 23-26.
For Halladay, its back to a normal schedule now after his routine was thrown off by the All-Star break and by his scare in Chicago. He hasnt pitched on his usual five days of rest since June, but from here on out, its back to normal.
As much as you look forward to taking some time at the break and resting, its always odd for a starting pitcher when your program kind of gets changed around, so its nice to get back on that five days, he said.
You know exactly what youre doing every five days and for the most part you know how youre going to feel on that fifth day, and as much as you want the rest sometimes, as a starting pitcher, the more you can stay consistent, the better it is, so Im looking forward to it.
Talk about getting stronger as the game goes on. Halladay has a 2.50 ERA this year from the sixth inning on.
You cant tell the difference (how many pitches hes thrown), Ibanez said. His stuff, his poise and his tenacity on the mound is the same.
The guys a gamer. You know thats hes going to grind and battle and if anything I knew he was going to have a stellar outing today because thats him. Thats what he does.
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RoobCSN.
Related: Howard going opposite field is a good sign for Phils Oswalt to make rehab start, Polanco improving