Wednesday, April 13, 2011 9:48 p.m.
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- At his dominant best until a shaky ninth inning, Roy Halladay held on to throw his first complete game of 2011, leading the Philadelphia Phillies past the Washington Nationals 3-2 Wednesday night. Through eight shutout innings, Halladay (2-0) allowed only a pair of singles by Adam LaRoche, who talked his way back into Washington's lineup despite a hurt groin. In the ninth, Halladay allowed four hits, including RBI singles by Laynce Nix and Danny Espinosa. But with two on, the two-time Cy Young Award winner ended the game by throwing six strikes in a row to fan pinch-hitter Matt Stairs and Ivan Rodriguez, who argued the game-ending call at length. Halladay had nine strikeouts and two walks. John Lannan (1-1) fell to 0-9 against Philadelphia despite pitching solidly Wednesday. He allowed only two earned runs -- plus one that was unearned -- and six hits, five of which were singles. Not bad, but nothing compared to what Halladay produced. If Lannan can't beat the Phillies, Halladay can't lose -- well, almost can't -- to the Nationals or anyone in the NL East, for that matter. He is now 9-1 against the club over his career, and has won his 11 starts against division opponents since June 2010. "He's got it all. He throws hard. He's got a great slider. He's aggressive. All the cliche things that you want in pitchers -- working fast and all that stuff," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said before the game. "He's just got really good stuff. The ball moves. He can jam hitters. He can run the ball away from hitters." Then Halladay went out and did all of those things for most of the evening against a lineup that was missing Ryan Zimmerman, who went on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a strained abdominal muscle. Indeed, the scariest moment for Halladay -- and his team -- came in the fourth, when half of Espinosa's broken, splintered bat flew directly at the pitcher's head. Halladay ducked out of harm's way at the last instant, and his defense recorded a double play. Halladay walked one batter in 15 2-3 innings this season before he issued consecutive free passes to Ian Desmond and Rick Ankiel in the third. But ex-Phillies outfielder Werth -- booed by large batches of Philadelphia fans each time he strode to the plate -- grounded out to end the inning. The last time Halladay walked two batters in a row also came against the Nationals, on Aug. 20 last season, when Adam Dunn and Zimmerman drew bases on balls in the first inning. After LaRoche's second hit, leading off the fourth, Halladay retired 14 of 15 batters. Then came the ninth, when Ankiel led off with a double, and Werth singled, putting runners at the corners. After LaRoche struck out, Nix singled to right, driving in Washington's first run. Espinosa then scored another with an infield single. With Jose Contreras warming up in the bullpen, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel went out to the mound for a visit, but left Halladay in. And Halladay finished off the game in style. The only extra-base hit allowed by Lannan was Shane Victorino's double off the left-field wall to open the game. Placido Polanco then grounded to shortstop Desmond, who triple-clutched the ball as he looked Victorino back to second. By the time Desmond threw over to first, it was too late. Polanco was credited with a hit. But Lannan escaped, getting Jimmy Rollins to ground into a 5-4-3 double play, then striking out Ryan Howard swinging. A double play helped Lannan in the third, when a two-on, one-out jam ended with Polanco's 4-6-3 grounder, and yet another ended the sixth. In the fourth, the Phillies went ahead 1-0 without the benefit of a hit -- or even a particularly well-hit ball. They did, however, take advantage of two errors by Desmond, who led the majors with 34 last season. Rollins led off and reached when Desmond bobbled his grounder for a fielding error. The next batter, Howard, grounded out. Rollins kept running, though, and headed toward third, where he was beaten by first baseman LaRoche's throw back across the diamond -- yet was ruled safe because of an interference call against Desmond, charged with his second error of the inning. When Ben Francisco grounded out to Desmond, Rollins scored. Philadelphia made it 3-0 the next inning with some more small ball. Carlos Ruiz singled, Wilson Valdez walked and, with two outs, Polanco delivered an RBI single. After Rollins' single loaded the bases, Lannan hit Howard with a pitch to force in another run. NOTES: Wednesday was the second anniversary of the death of Phillies announcer Harry Kalas, who collapsed in the broadcast booth at Nationals Park before a game on April 13, 2009. "We lost a tremendous person. He was a face for the Phillies -- a voice. He'd been around a long time. He was very popular and well-liked," Manuel said. "He was good for Philadelphia, he was good for the Phillies, and he was good for baseball." ... Nationals LF Mike Morse (flu) was out of the starting lineup for a second game in a row. LaRoche returned after being held out Tuesday.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011 9:48 p.m.