The Philadelphia Phillies’ scoreless streak is over, but more importantly, so is their five-game skid.
Halladay has lost two straight starts and is coming off his worst outing in a Phillies uniform, but he’ll be eager to bounce back Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium in a premier pitching matchup with budding Florida Marlins star Josh Johnson(notes).
The amount of offensive talent in Philadelphia’s lineup made it hard to believe it was capable of a slump, but the Phillies (27-20) suffered through one of the worst in recent memory this week.
They failed to score a run while being swept in three games by the New York Mets this week, the fourth time in their five-game losing streak in which they’d be shut out. Chris Volstad(notes) kept Philadelphia scoreless for three more innings Friday, but Raul Ibanez’s(notes) fourth-inning triple drove in Ryan Howard(notes) to break the ice en route to a 3-2 victory.
“Sometimes all it takes is just one, and just one big moment to kind of get things going,” Howard said. “I think you could kind of say it was an exhale when we got that run across.”
The Phillies avoided becoming the first team since the 1992 Chicago Cubs to suffer four straight shutouts.
Runs may be hard to come by again Saturday as two of the NL’s better pitchers square off. But Halladay (6-3, 2.22 ERA) hasn’t looked like an ace over his last three outings, going 0-2 with a 4.29 ERA and yielding a .310 opponents’ batting average.
His start Sunday against Boston - the team he’s faced more than any other - was his worst since coming over from Toronto. The 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner gave up seven runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings in an 8-3 loss.
“I just didn’t make good pitches, that’s the bottom line,” Halladay told the Phillies’ official website. “… I’ve obviously had games where I haven’t pitched well before. It’s a matter of getting back to what you do.”
Halladay had certainly made a career of bouncing back after a few bad outings. In his nine starts following consecutive losses since 2002, Halladay is 6-1 with a 1.55 ERA.
Perhaps another opportunity to face the NL East will help. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 0.82 ERA in four intradivision starts, allowing two runs over eight innings in an 8-6 victory over Florida (24-25) on April 16.
While the Phillies’ scoreless drought ended in Friday’s series opener, Johnson (5-1, 2.43) has an impressive shutout streak alive and well. It reached 18 1-3 after he pitched six innings Sunday in a 13-0 win over the Chicago White Sox.
About the only thing he didn’t do was strike anyone out, a rarity for a pitcher who was fourth in the NL (63) coming in.
“I got some ground balls, had a good angle on the ball,” Johnson told the Marlins’ official website. “I just couldn’t throw a good two-strike slider, but I’ll take it any way I can get it.”
Johnson is 4-2 with a 3.98 ERA in nine career starts against the Phillies, though he’s 0-1 with an 8.38 ERA in his last two.
Howard is 8 for 24 with two homers versus Johnson.