After cruising through the early part of the schedule, the Philadelphia Phillies are slumping and coming off perhaps their most disappointing loss of the season.
Halladay takes the mound Wednesday night when the Phillies continue their series with the Atlanta Braves, who used a stunning late rally to grab a share of first place in the NL East in the last game.
Leading 3-0, the Phillies were one out away from winning the series opener Tuesday. However, Chipper Jones(notes) reached on a walk, Troy Glaus(notes) hit a two-run homer and rookie star Jason Heyward(notes) followed with a solo shot send the game into extra innings.
“We hung in there,” said the 20-year-old Heyward, who leads the club with four homers and 16 RBIs. “It was nothing but a team effort. … It sends a big charge through the whole team.”
The Braves (8-5) have won five of six to move into a tie for the division lead with Philadelphia (8-5), loser of three straight and four of five.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said, “our bullpen has been a concern,” but he may not need any relievers with Halladay (3-0, 1.13 ERA) taking the ball. The right-hander, who has a major league-best 19 complete games since the start of the 2008 season, is looking to open with four straight wins for the first time in his 13-year career.
Halladay gave up two runs over 16 innings in victories over Washington and Houston before his home debut against Florida on Friday. He yielded two runs in eight innings and the Phillies held on to win 8-6.
Nothing appears to have changed for Halladay in his first NL season after winning 148 games and a Cy Young Award with Toronto.
“I think you go out and do the same things,” he said. “There’s not a lot you can do to change anything. My approach is the same.”
Halladay allowed five hits over seven scoreless innings May 22 at Atlanta, not getting a decision in a 1-0 loss. He won his other outing against the Braves, beating them in a relief stint in 1999.
“I got into some trouble and was able to make some pitches whenever I needed to,” Hudson said. “Dancing in and out of trouble, for the most part I was able to go out there and give us a pretty good chance to win.”
Hudson has gone 0-4 with a 4.55 ERA in his last nine starts against the Phillies.
Philadelphia slugger Ryan Howard(notes), who had an RBI single Tuesday, has only three homers and none in eight games. Facing Hudson could help end that drought, as Howard is batting .353 with five homers and 10 RBIs against him.
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