SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Roy Halladay walked Aubrey Huff in the fifth inning on a close inside pitch, caught the ball from catcher Carlos Ruiz and stared at home plate umpire Marty Foster for several seconds.
Foster muttered a few words to the mound, and Halladay barked back. The pitcher pointed behind the plate—later calling it a miscommunication with his catcher, not the umpire—and regained his rhythm following a rare show of emotion.
“They weren’t strikes,” Halladay said smiling after watching the replay in the clubhouse. “But when you’re struggling to repeat, you want all of them.”
On a night when neither ace was at his dominating best, Halladay never flinched.
Halladay outlasted Tim Lincecum in a matchup of two-time Cy Young Award winners, leading the Philadelphia Phillies past the San Francisco Giants 5-2 on Monday night.
Halladay (3-0) struck out six and allowed seven hits in eight innings on a crisp and cool spring night along the bay. He also had an RBI single in a rematch of top starters from the 2010 NL championship series
“He’s really intense, man,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “And he’s really into it. And he puts a lot into it. But at the same time, too, he also realizes what he has to do. He never loses his composure on what he has to do. That’s the difference.”
It certainly was in the latest go-around between two of baseball’s best.
Laynce Nix’s two-run double highlighted a four-run first off Lincecum (0-2) that produced all the power Philadelphia needed. The Phillies chased San Francisco’s shaggy-haired and suddenly erratic right-hander after he gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings—five days after the shortest start of his career.
“It’s easy for things to start falling off in that first inning and say, ‘Here we go again,”’ Lincecum said. “I tried to do my best to put a stop to that and pitch better from the second inning on. Something like that, the best you can do is try to keep your team in the game and grind out what you have left.”
A cast of top starters never lived up to the billing.
The pitching matchup was the first regular-season meeting of multiple Cy Young Award winners since Johan Santana and Randy Johnson on May 16, 2009. It also was the first time Halladay and Lincecum—who split two matchups in the memorable NL championship series the Giants won in six games en route to a World Series title — faced each other in the regular season.
Only one still resembled an ace.
Lincecum has given up more runs in the first inning this season (nine) than he did all of last (eight). Halladay had only been nicked for one run and seven hits total in home wins against Pittsburgh and Miami previously.
Philadelphia backed its ace with all the run support he needed before Lincecum could even record two outs.
Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino each singled home a run and Nix smacked a two-run double in the first to give the Phillies a quick 4-0 lead. By the time Lincecum recovered from the 30-pitch inning, the damage had been done.
“Their guy was struggling, too,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “The difference was they got some hits and we didn’t. We had Halladay on the ropes, too. But he got out of it with just one run.”
Halladay worked out of a jam in the first, allowing only Huff’s sacrifice fly to right. The pitcher even lined a run-scoring single in the fourth.
After Lincecum’s RBI grounder in the fourth sliced Philadelphia’s lead to 5-2, Pence picked up Halladay with a leaping grab against the right-field wall on a slicing fly by Angel Pagan to save a run.
An announced sellout of 41,136 fans had little else to get excited for other than watching one of baseball’s best.
Halladay baffled hitters with a mix of devastating fastballs and late-breaking curves. He struck out Brandon Belt looking with two on to end the fifth, and closed out the eighth in order after a leadoff single to Buster Posey. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save in three chances this season.
The Giants suddenly have more concerns at the top of the rotation than its batting order.
Lincecum was tagged for six earned runs on eight hits and two walks in just 2 1-3 innings—the shortest outing of his career— in San Francisco’s 17-8 loss at Colorado last week. He has allowed 16 runs and 22 hits in 13 2-3 innings this season.
NOTES: Giants 2B Freddy Sanchez complained of soreness in his surgically repaired right shoulder after a toss during an extended spring training game in Arizona on Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy said the team will push Sanchez’s rehab start in Class A San Jose back at least two days to Thursday. … A moment of silence was held before the game for the one crew member who died and four others still missing from the wreck of the yacht Low Speed Chase near the Farallon Islands off San Francisco on Saturday, including former Giants bat girl Alexis Busch. … Phillies reliever Justin De Fratus, who had elbow soreness during at the beginning of spring training, threw about 30 pitches Monday against live hitters. He’ll pitch again Thursday.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)