PITTSBURGH (AP) — The reigning NL Cy Young winner pitched well enough to stop the Phillies’ losing streak. Contributed to a breaking out for the team’s struggling offense, too.
Halladay pitched seven effective innings and the Philadelphia Phillies snapped a season-high four-game skid, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3 on Sunday to avoid a sweep.
Neil Walker hit a two-run homer in the first inning, one of six Pittsburgh hits off Halladay (8-3), who had six strikeouts and one walk in tying for the most wins in the majors.
“I’ve always said I’d rather keep winning streaks going, but I think you’re just trying to do the best job you can, regardless,” Halladay said. “I just go out and try to make pitches and give us the best chance to win it.”
Ryan Howard had three RBIs, Chase Utley was on base four times and Placido Polanco had two hits and scored twice for Philadelphia.
Playing without leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins (bruised knee), the struggling Phillies offense — seven runs in the previous four games — had 14 hits and was aided by seven walks, two hit batters, two wild pitches and a passed ball.
Halladay did part at the plate and on the basepaths with a single and a walk and by scoring from second on a single by Polanco in the sixth.
“He did it all today,” Howard said. “To be able to lean on Roy, and for him to be able to go out there and do what he did and compete — not only that, but he (got on base and) he kind of rallied the troops, running the bases, scoring on base hit.”
The Phillies had only one hit during the fourth and fifth innings when they scored their first three runs. But they banged out 11 hits over the final four innings.
Halladay avoided the distinction of allowing 10 or more hits for three consecutive starts for the first time in his career.
“Not to take away anything from (the Pirates); obviously they’ve been playing pretty well lately,” Halladay said. “But I think we feel like these are games we need to win, and at some point you kind of get over that and get things rolling. I’m sure this is a lot of weight off of everybody.”
With two outs in the sixth of what was then a two-run game, Brandon Wood and pinch-hitter Matt Diaz singled off Halladay. Pinch-hitter Jose Tabata then sharply lined the first pitch he saw toward right, but second baseman Utley extended for a spectacular diving catch to end the inning.
Raul Ibanez earned his 1,000th career RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fourth, and the Phillies scored twice in the fifth after James McDonald was pulled upon throwing 12 consecutive balls to load the bases with nobody out.
“I lost command of all my pitches, lost all control of them,” McDonald said. “It just happened all of a sudden.”
McDonald (3-4) came in having allowed only four runs in his previous three starts but had control issues, walking five, hitting a batter and throwing two wild pitches in four-plus innings.
Walker sent a high cutter from Halladay to right-center for his eighth homer of the season, giving him a team-high 39 RBIs — most among National League second basemen.
But that would be all the runs Halladay would permit.
“He’s the best pitcher in baseball,” Walker said. “A guy like that doesn’t get rattled easily. You don’t see many pitches over the heart of the plate when a guy like that is on mound.”
Pittsburgh added a run in the eighth off Jose Contreras to pull within 5-3, but Antonio Bastardo struck out Garrett Jones with two on to end the inning.
Polanco and Shane Victorino had RBI singles for the Phillies, who completed a 4-5 road trip.
“After today,” said Howard, “the last four days don’t matter anymore.”
Notes: The Pirates’ average attendance entering the series was
18,765, but an average of nearly twice that (108,807 total) showed up for the three games against the Phillies — the fourth-largest three-game series in PNC Park history. The crowds were aided by several thousand Philadelphia fans. … Pittsburgh (28-30) missed a chance to move to .500 this late in the season for the first time in six years. … The Phillies had a sure run taken away in the fourth when a ball hit by Domonic Brown struck umpire Chad Fairchild and, by rule, Howard was not permitted to advance from third.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)