With the win, the Phils’ increased their lead in the NL East race to 7 1/2 games games over the Atlanta Braves who were pounded by Washington. The 3rd place Mets are now 22 games back and tied with the Washington Nationals after being shut out by Florida. The last place Florida Marlins remained 26 1/2 games behind the front-runners.
Halladay (16-5) gave up Brandon Phillips’ leadoff single in the first inning, then dominated the team he no-hit in the playoffs last season. His bases-loaded double in the sixth inning off Bronson Arroyo (8-11) made it 6-0.
It was especially pleasing for Halladay, given the way he’s been rained on the last few weeks. He pitched only twice during a 21-day stretch because of rainouts, the most recent one last Saturday, and was a little concerned about how it would affect him.
“I don’t know what the word is—it’s one of those things you can’t control,” said Halladay, who threw 108 pitches. “You’re trying to get into a rhythm and it makes it difficult.
“I felt fresh. I felt like my location early on wasn’t great. I got into a rhythm as the game went on.”
Ryan Howard hit two of the Phillies’ four homers, giving him 29 for the season. He also reached 100 RBIs for the sixth straight year, a team record. Howard had been tied with Hall of Famer Chuck Klein for consecutive 100-RBI seasons.
Raul Ibanez returned from a strained groin and had a two-run homer among his three hits. Hunter Pence also hit a solo homer off Arroyo, who has given up the most in the majors.
Arroyo has given up 36 homers, the most ever by a Reds right-hander. Left-hander Eric Milton holds the franchise record of 40 homers allowed. [By the way, take note that the year before coughing up 40 dingers with the Reds, Milton logged 43 dingers while notching a 14-6 mark pitching for the Phils in 2004. (Author)]
Any thoughts of another no-hitter were dismissed on his second pitch. Phillips singled to right field, extending his hitting streak to 13 games, the longest by a Red this season. The Reds wouldn’t get another hit until Joey Votto doubled in the seventh. Halladay walked two, hit one batter and fanned nine.
“Halladay wasn’t sharp early,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He threw a lot of pitches. It’s always a game changer when you get on a guy like that early.”
He came to bat in the sixth with the bases loaded and lined a down-the-middle slider the opposite way into the right-field corner.
“I couldn’t tell you where it was,” Halladay said. “I’m guessing it was down the middle or I couldn’t have hit it.”
His awkward swing produced his first RBIs of the season and ended Arroyo’s outing. The right-hander fell to 1-7 career against the Phillies.
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