Halladay gave up 10 hits in six innings, yet was never in serious trouble and the Phillies extended their division lead to three games by beating the Florida Marlins 10-5 on Wednesday night. Philadelphia swept a three-game series at Florida for the second time this season and improved to 17-3 on the road since Aug. 1.
"Anytime you do that is good," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel deadpanned.
Halladay (19-10) struck out nine and beat the Marlins for the fourth time in 2010 - making him the fourth starter to top Florida that many times in one season, joining only Jamie Moyer (2007, 2008) and Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine (both 2002). He has a career-high 210 strikeouts, 41 coming against the Marlins, and is the Phillies' first 19-game winner since John Denny in 1983.
Of more importance to Halladay, however, was this stat: Philadelphia's win, combined with Atlanta's 4-2 loss to Washington, gave the two-time defending NL champions their largest division lead since May 25. The Phillies trailed the Braves by seven games on July 21, and have gone 38-15 since.
"There was always a sense that things were going to turn around and we were going to play the way we expected to," Halladay said. "For an outsider coming into a team that is known for being a very good team and winning the last few years, I was impressed with that part of it. There was never a loss of hope, that's for sure."
Raul Ibanez and Wilson Valdez both had three hits for Philadelphia and Chase Utley hit his 15th homer. Shane Victorino had his seventh multi-hit game in his last nine outings, and Jose Contreras - who replaced an ineffective Brad Lidge in the ninth - escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam for his fourth save in five chances.
Logan Morrison had two hits for Florida, stretching his streak of reaching base to 35 straight games, the third-longest run in the majors this season.
Gaby Sanchez homered and scored twice for the Marlins, who used six pitchers, all relievers.
"It has been a tough week for us on the mound," Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "But the lineup, we keep scoring runs."
Jorge Sosa (2-3), making his first start since July 27, 2007, gave up six hits and six runs, four earned, in 2 1-3 innings. He threw 68 pitches, 46 more than his average in 15 previous relief appearances this year.
Philadelphia went 8-1 at Florida this season, and the Marlins are surely pleased that they won't have to see Halladay - who pitched a perfect game against them on May 29 - again until 2011.
Halladay went 4-1 against the Marlins this season with a 1.66 ERA in 38 innings. And by the time Halladay went to work Wednesday, he had a 3-0 lead.
"Anytime he's pitching," Sanchez said, "you definitely don't want to give him any kind of cushion."
Jayson Werth lofted a two-out RBI single to right field to start the scoring, and Ibanez followed with a well-placed two-run double that just evaded the dive of Marlins center fielder Emilio Bonifacio. The Phillies took control with three runs in the third, a rally sparked by Utley's homer leading off the inning.
Down by six, the Marlins loaded the bases with one out against Lidge in the ninth. Lidge's night ended when he walked Sanchez to force in Bonifacio.
Contreas struck out Chad Tracy, then retired Scott Cousins on a grounder to finish the sweep and add to the division cushion. "We're not in control of it right now," Manuel said. "We've got a lead. We can definitely control what we're going to do by winning. Each day we come to the yard, if we come to win, then we control every damn thing about it."
NOTES: Marlins RF Mike Stanton got the night off after going 0 for 4 with four strikeouts Tuesday night, dropping the rookie's average to .247. He's hitting .150 at Sun Life Stadium, and was on deck when the game ended. ... Phillies C Carlos Ruiz had two hits, giving him a .364 average in 16 games against Florida this season. ... The Phillies, 41-34 outside Philadelphia, are assured of a winning road record. ... Philadelphia's last 20-game winner was Steve Carlton, who won 23 in 1982.