Roy Halladay began the season 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA, then went 1-6 with a 5.43 ERA over his next 12 starts, pitching more like Luke Hochevar than the two-time Cy Young winner he is.
On Saturday, Doc finally looked like Doc again, allowing just four baserunners in seven shutout innings as the Phillies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-0.
Only two D-backs reached scoring position off Halladay, who worked out of a one-out jam by striking out Jason Kubel and inducing a Paul Goldschmidt groundout with a man on third in the sixth inning. Four of Halladay’s seven innings went 1-2-3.
Erik Kratz was the offensive hero of the night for the Phils. He hit a 360-foot solo homer to left field off of Joe Saunders to lead off the third inning, and in the fourth followed a Domonic Brown walk with a base on balls of his own to bring in the Phils’ second run. The Phillies added another run in the eighth when Brown singled in Kevin Frandsen with two outs.
Josh Lindblom worked a solid eighth inning, striking out two Diamondbacks. Aside from Kubel’s bomb Friday night, Lindblom has looked very good in three outings for the Phillies. Jonathan Papelbon followed with a 15-pitch ninth for his 24th save of the season.
The Phillies are 48-59, a half-game behind the Marlins for fourth place in the NL East. But records don’t matter much over these final two months — only positive signs do. And the Phillies saw several of them on Saturday night, as Halladay returned to form, Brown was both patient and effective at the plate and Kratz continued to show that he is a legitimate backup catcher in this league. He’ll need to continue to produce at the plate with Carlos Ruiz out 4-6 weeks with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.