The Philadelphia Phillies haven’t lost a road series in more than two months, but they’ll need to win Sunday afternoon for that streak to continue.
Coming off a tough complete-game loss, Halladay looks to bounce back by winning his 11th consecutive start against the Nationals dating back to the franchise’s days in Montreal.
Philadelphia (81-43) has won eight consecutive road series since dropping two of three in Seattle from June 17-19, and a large part of that success can be credited to winning seven of the series openers.
The Phillies blew a great chance to get off to another impressive start Friday in Washington, coughing up a two-run lead in the ninth and losing 8-4 on Ryan Zimmerman’s(notes) walk-off grand slam, but they showed no ill effects Saturday. Roy Oswalt(notes) - whose start was pushed back a night after Friday’s lengthy rain delay - pitched eight outstanding innings while Wilson Valdez(notes) and Jimmy Rollins(notes) each drove in a pair of runs in a 5-0 victory.
“(Oswalt) was absolutely nasty,” Rollins said. “Vintage Roy.”
Philadelphia should feel awfully confident its road series winning streak will continue. Halladay (15-5, 2.53 ERA) is 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA in three starts versus Washington (60-64) this season, and his success against the franchise dates back much longer.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner is 10-0 with a 1.83 ERA in 10 starts against the Nationals and Expos since July 3, 2004, and he’s won 11 straight decisions against the franchise since losing to Montreal while with Toronto on June 28, 2002.
As if those numbers weren’t daunting enough, Washington has to deal with Halladay coming off a loss. The right-hander held Arizona to one run and six hits while striking out 12 over his first eight innings Tuesday, but he gave up a pair of runs in the ninth that led to a 3-2 defeat.
“It can be a little tougher to swallow sometimes in the ninth,” Halladay told the Phillies’ official website. “That’s the way the game goes. But you definitely feel like it’s your responsibility to finish the game there. I didn’t do it. I didn’t make two good pitches, and it cost me.”
Halladay has matched up with mound opponent Chien-Ming Wang(notes) (2-2, 4.22) four times previously as AL East rivals on the Blue Jays and Yankees, respectively, including one start Wang would like to forget. The right-hander injured his right shoulder while opposing Halladay on July 4, 2009, which turned out to be his final appearance in pinstripes.
The results weren’t there in Wang’s first two starts after his two-plus year recovery - he went 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA - but he’s been much better since. He held the Cubs to one hit over six scoreless innings in a 3-1 win Aug. 9, then gave up four runs over 6 1-3 innings of a 6-4 victory against Cincinnati on Tuesday.
“I think he’s just going to get stronger,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of Wang. “From what I’ve seen, he wasn’t tired, and he was still throwing the ball hard.”