With all that was going on around Citizens Bank Park on Friday night, it was almost too difficult to pay attention to the action on the field. What, with the Eagles making a huge free-agent signing, the unbearable humidity and the word that the Phillies were about to make another huge deadline trade, the baseball game was almost secondary.
Game? What game?
Nevertheless, with right-handed hitting outfielder Hunter Pence on the move from the Phillies reservoir in Houston, the local nine put a 10-3 beating on the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
See, its funny what happens to a teams offense when it doesnt have to face Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants. After dropping two straight to the defending champions and not scoring an earned run since Tuesday, the Phillies broke out with three runs in the first and five more in the second.
Meanwhile, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino completed three-quarters of the cycle as the Phillies got more hits (11) against the Pirates than they did in the last two games against Cain and Lincecum (10).
Tonight, our hitting was good, manager Charlie Manuel said.
Then again, so too was Roy Halladay. In fact, the two unearned runs the Phils got in the last two nights would have been plenty with the way Halladay was dealing.
Halladay picked up his league-leading 13th win by allowing one hit and no walks in a smooth-sailing seven innings. He did not allow a hit through the first three innings, and then retired the last 12 he faced after Xavier Paul hit a soft-liner for a single to lead off the fourth inning.
Suffice it to say, Halladay had his no-hitter stuff in racking up five strikeouts. More importantly, Halladay improved to 22-4 in games following a Phillies loss.
We were able to give him some rest early because we got him some runs, Manuel said.
Certainly the Phillies were nice enough to accommodate Halladay, not just by getting him some runs in the win over the Pirates, but also in adding a bat at the deadline. Actually, thats why Halladay wanted to play for the Phillies in the first place he knew general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would add pieces the way the Red Sox and Yankees did back when he was playing in the AL East for Toronto.
After all, the Phillies are still a team built around Halladay and the pitching staff. Still, seeing how the Giants aces dominated the Phillies offense, a little extra firepower is a nice gift for the Phillies pitchers.
That definitely was the case for Halladay and the Phillies on Friday night. Perhaps the 10 runs is a sign of things to come?
It made my job pretty easy after that point, Halladay said, after improving to 13-4 with 2.44 ERA. When we can get a team down like that, especially after coming off a tough series, it kind of took the wind out of them.
It saved Halladay some wind, too. Leading 10-0 with the no-hitter gone, Halladay didnt have to finish it up.
Any time you can save a couple innings here or there it helps you, Halladay said. Obviously you want to go as far as you can, but any time you can come out of a game with a 10-run lead its allows you to catch your breath a bit.
He also didnt have to dig too deeply into his arsenal of pitches, either.
For the most part we threw a lot of fastballs today, Halladay said. I didnt get ahead in the count as much as I would have liked, but when you have that many runs early youre going to go to the fastball more. I was missing some pitches early, but I didnt feel like I had to pick here and there.
Pirates starter Charlie Morton entered the game allowing lefties to bat .330 against him and then promptly gave up five straight hits to the Phillies lefty hitters. Utley got things started with an RBI triple followed by Ryan Howards RBI double. An inning later, Utley hit his eighth homer of the season.
Against the Giants big horses, Utley went 1 for 8, while Howard was 0 for 8, so the early production was beneficial for the scoreboard and the players psyche.
We always try to get some early runs, but it was important that we had some good at-bats the first few innings and we were able to hit some balls where they arent, Utley said.
The Phillies will have a new addition to the lineup on Saturday night when Pence joins the club. Better yet, they will have Cliff Lee (9-7, 3.05) on the mound against the Pirates James McDonald (7-4, 3.95).
E-mail John R. Finger at firstname.lastname@example.org.