Roy Halladay is back, and the Philadelphia Phillies surely need help from their ace.
Halladay is expected to be activated from the disabled list for his first start in almost two months when the Phillies go for a fourth win in a row Tuesday night against the host Los Angeles Dodgers.
Sidelined since May 27 with a right latissimus dorsi strain, Halladay (4-5, 3.98 ERA) is the latest key piece to come back for the Phillies after the recent returns of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
Philadelphia (40-51) is hoping the two-time Cy Young Award winner can provide a spark for the five-time reigning NL East champions, who reside in the division cellar - 13 games behind first-place Washington.
"It gives us a lot of hope," Howard said. "I mean, you have to forget what happened in the first half. We just have to keep doing what we're doing right now as a team and as a unit. The goal for us right now is just to go out and win a series, no matter who's on the mound."
Halladay, an eight-time All-Star, allowed an unearned run in three innings in a rehab start for Class-A Clearwater on Thursday and threw a bullpen session two days later. He didn't think another rehab start was necessary, which was fine with manager Charlie Manuel.
The right-hander has won four of five career starts against the Dodgers behind a 1.93 ERA, including his latest visit to Chavez Ravine on Aug. 8. Manuel hasn't given Halladay a set pitch limit, but he'll be monitored closely.
"I'd say six innings would be realistic, probably. But we'll see," Manuel said. "We'll probably work off him. If he's healthy and can work back up to where he can go eight innings or finish a game, I would project that he's going to win a lot of games for us."
Howard came through Monday, connecting for a solo shot for his first homer of the year to provide the difference in a 3-2 victory - the Phillies' sixth straight win in Los Angeles.
"I feel good," Howard said. "Now it's just a matter of getting back into the flow of playing at this level, making adjustments and slowing myself down at times. Sometimes I get to be too quick."
The first baseman is 3 for 20 in six games since returning from the disabled list following left Achilles surgery, but he has three homers in his past five contests against the Dodgers.
Los Angeles (48-43) has dropped six of seven overall and will turn to Stephen Fife on Tuesday after placing right-hander Chad Billingsley on the 15-day DL due to right elbow inflammation.
Fife, who will make his major league debut, is 7-5 with a 4.53 ERA in 18 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque. The right-hander was acquired in a four-player trade with Boston at last year's trade deadline.