Phils' Halladay is first NL 15-game winner

LOS ANGELES - August 9, 2011

Shane Victorino homered as Philadelphia improved the majors' best record to 75-40 and maintained its 8½-game lead over Atlanta in the NL East.

Halladay (15-4) allowed a run and nine hits over 6 1-3 innings and struck out four. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 2.22 ERA since his 6-1 loss at Wrigley Field, when he was forced out after four innings because of heat exhaustion. Both walks Halladay gave up were to Casey Blake, who is 8 for 19 with six RBIs lifetime against the eight-time All-Star.

Antonio Bastardo took over for Halladay with Andre Ethier representing the potential tying run, and retired him on an inning-ending double-play grounder with two men on.

Michael Stutes and Brad Lidge gave up RBI singles in the eighth, but Lidge hustled after Tony Gwynn's bid for a bunt single to the right of the mound with runners at second and third and shoveled the ball to first baseman Howard to preserve the Phillies' one-run lead.

Victorino, who is appealing a three-game suspension he received Monday from Major League Baseball, gave Ryan Madson an insurance run to work with in the ninth with his 12th homer.

Madson got three outs for his 20th save in 21 chances.

Hiroki Kuroda (7-14) gave up four runs - three earned - and nine hits through 6 1-3 innings, making him 2-11 with a 3.16 ERA over his last 14 outings. The hard-luck right-hander had allowed only three earned runs over 32 innings in his five previous regular-season starts against the Phillies, whom he beat in Game 3 of the 2008 NL championship series.

One day after Roy Oswalt returned from a 37-game stint on the disabled list with a 3-1 loss at San Francisco that ended the Phillies' nine-game winning streak, Halladay recorded his eighth win of the season following a loss. It was his first start at Dodger Stadium since Aug. 30, 2010, when Kuroda took a no-hitter into the eighth and beat him 3-0.

Victorino, who broke up Kuroda's no-hit bid that night with a one-out single, doubled in the first inning on a full count after Kuroda got ahead of him 0-2. Howard drove in Victorino with a two-out infield single that ticked off the top of Kuroda's glove as he tried to make a play on the high chopper.

Howard drove in the Phillies' fourth run in the seventh with a do

uble after another double by Victorino. The RBI was Howard's NL-leading 89th, four more than Milwaukee's Prince Fielder and five more than the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, who grounded into his team-high 14th double play in the bottom of the first with two men on. Kemp stranded two more in the fourth with a popup, and has gone five straight games without an RBI.

The Phillies made it 3-0 in the second on a bizarre play that had "Keystone Kops" written all over it. Carlos Ruiz led off with a single and Michael Martinez hit a grounder to first baseman James Loney, who bobbled the ball thinking about starting a double play. Loney decided to cut his losses and flip to Kuroda covering first, but the ball got past the pitcher.

Kuroda and catcher Rod Barajas both ran it down before Kuroda picked it up. Barajas, realizing that he had left home plate uncovered with Ruiz approaching third, scrambled to get back. So did Ruiz, as third baseman Blake leaped to grab Kuroda's long hurried throw from foul territory.

Ruiz then stayed put on a bunt by Halladay that advanced Martinez to second, and Jimmy Rollins drove in both runners with a double to right-center.

That was all that Halladay needed. He is 165-19 when he gets at least three runs of support and has won 24 straight under those circumstances.

Jamey Carroll led off the Dodgers' fifth with a single, and Kuroda's attempted sacrifice bunt hugged the first base line for a hit with Howard watching it roll to a dead stop. Carroll scored from third on Blake's groundout, but Ethier struck out as the potential tying run.

The Dodgers opened the sixth with two singles, but Halladay retired the next three batters - including Carroll on a called third strike to end the inning.

Five more victories in Halladay's final 10 projected starts would give him his fourth 20-win season and third in a four-year stretch. He had a career-high 22 in 2003 with Toronto. Halladay is 26-6 with a 2.51 ERA over his last 37 regular-season starts, and his 166 victories are the most in the majors during that span.

Notes: Victorino received his suspension for triggering a bench-clearing incident at San Francisco on Friday night, and prolonging it by shoving an umpire. It all started when Ramon Ramirez hit Victorino in the back with a pitch, moments after Jimmy Rollins stole second with a six-run lead ... Martinez started at 3B for the Phillies in place of Placido Polanco, whose MRI on Monday in Philadelphia revealed a sports hernia. He will be re-evaluated on Friday. ..


The Phillies optioned RHP Scott Mathieson to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after he cleared waivers. Mathieson was designated for assignment on Saturday to clear a roster spot for Oswalt. ... Howard, who averaged 143 RBIs from 2006 through 2009, is 11 away from becoming the first Phillies player to have six straight 100-RBI seasons. He and Hall of Famer Chuck Klein currently are tied for the longest such streak in franchise history. ..


The Phillies and Dodgers send a pair of lefties to the hill on Tuesday night when Cliff Lee (11-7) faces Ted Lilly (7-11).

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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