Phillies ace Roy Halladay tossed a six inning, 4 hit masterpiece on Sunday to win his 19th game and halt the Phils losing skid at 8 games. The Phils’ offense uncorked on Mets’ starter Mike Pelfrey for 9 runs in four innings with rightfielder Hunter Pence’s 2 run first inning homer and catcher Carlos Ruiz’s 4 for 4, 2 RBIs leading the way. Leadng 9-0 after six, manager Manuel went to reliever Antonio Bastardo in the seventh and the Mets scored 3 of their 4 runs off of him. They nicked Vance Worley for an eighth inning run and Ryan Madson finished up as the Phils avoided a sweep. Halladay won his 19th with Pence and Ruiz leading the offense as the Phillies pounded the Mets by 9-4 in their series final.
The Atlanta Braves lost their Sunday game to Washington while the St. Louis Cardinals edged the Chicago Cubs as the Braves’ NL Wild Card lead shrunk to 1 game. The Braves magic number remained 3 (combination of Braves wins or Cards’ losses) as both teams have 3 games left to play.
It seems that facing the hapless Mike Pelfrey (7-13) was just what the doctor ordered as manager Manuel fielded his full starting lineup. Pelfrey was clobbered over the 1st four innings as the Phils offense returned to life. Halladay struck out only 3 while walking 1 but collected 9 ground ball outs while just 4 others flied out in his six inning, 77 pitch gem. Manuel again pulled his starter in the sixth, although Halladay on 77 pitches, still looked like he had plenty in the tank. And it really didn’t matter that Bastardo was jumped on for 3 runs in the seventh, and Worley gave up another, because this time the Phils were way out in front and had the game well in tow. But, after losing 8 straight games with gauge-flat offense and then ringing up 19 hits on Sunday, can the Phils turn their offense back on like a spigot for their final 3 regular season games to be played in Atlanta, and for the playoffs and the World Series? Time will tell.
AP’s game recap for Yahoo sports provides the highlights and details of Sunday’s game:
Playing their regular lineup for the first time since clinching their fifth straight division title, the Phillies posted their major league-leading 99th victory. Center fielder Shane Victorino closed it out with a nifty running grab for the final out.
“It’s a matter of getting everybody out there and getting the rhythm of the lineup,” star slugger Ryan Howard said. “Everybody kind of exploded today.”
“Hopefully, we can keep it together through October,” he said.
Pence homered during a three-run first inning, each starter had a hit by the third and Carlos Ruiz’s single made it 9-0 in the fourth.
That was plenty for Halladay (19-6). He tuned up for his expected start in Game 1 of the NL playoffs Saturday by throwing six scoreless innings of four-hit ball. Last year’s unanimous Cy Young Award winner finished this regular season with a career-best 2.35 ERA.
Halladay won his eighth straight start against the Mets and closed his outing by fanning Nick Evans with the bases loaded. It was Halladay’s third strikeout of the game—that was his 220th of the year, one more than his previous high.
“I didn’t want it to feel like a spring training start. Everything was where I wanted it to be,” Halladay said.
The Phillies’ skid was their longest since 2000, and the worst by any big league team after wrapping up first place since the World Series began in 1903, STATS LLC said.
Frustrated by all the losses, manager Charlie Manuel put all his regulars on the field and also tinkered with the lineup, moving Chase Utley into the second slot. And after scoring a total of only 16 runs during the slide, the Phillies responded with 19 hits.
Mike Pelfrey (7-13) was battered from the outset. He was done after three innings, leaving him with only one win in his last 12 starts of the season.
Ruiz went 4 for 4 with a walk. His two-run hit in the fourth drew a mixed response from the crowd, with Phillies fans cheering his “Chooch” nickname and Mets fans simply booing.
Pence also tripled, singled and walked. He made a costly error Saturday night in his first start since missing three games because of a strained knee.
Manuel quickly began pulling his All-Stars. Ryan Howard came out for a pinch-runner in the fourth and Jimmy Rollins left following the sixth.
For all of Sunday’s scores and recaps, click here.
The Phils then travel to Atlanta to play the final 3 games of the regular season on Monday through Wednesday against the Braves. The Phils’ 8 game skid set up a situation where these games will be big for both teams.
For the Phils, they will need to build on Sunday’s blow-out win over the Mets to re-establish a team-to-beat mojo before the playoffs, while these games will be crucial for the Braves in order to make the playoffs at all. Lefthander Cliff Lee tries to finish out the season with 17 wins as he faces rookie Randall Delgado for the Braves. All of MLB’s playoff teams will then have at least 2 days off (Sept. 29 and 30) before the NLDS games begin on Saturday.
For all of Monday’s scheduled games throughout MLB, click here.