PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Philadelphia Phillies starter Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter in his playoff debut to beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-0 on Wednesday in the opening game of their best-of-five National League Division Series.
Halladay's gem was the first no-hitter thrown in a Major League Baseball post-season game since Don Larsen tossed a perfect game for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series.
The final out was registered on a weak dribbler in front of the plate hit by Brandon Phillips that catcher Carlos Ruiz gobbled up and threw to first base to end the game.
The masterpiece came in Halladay's first post-season start after 13 seasons and 169 wins. The only Reds hitter to reach base was Jay Bruce on a two-out walk in the fifth inning.
Ruiz, who threw from his knees to retire Phillips, jumped up and rushed toward the mound to embrace Halladay while the rest of the reigning National League champion squad joined in the celebration as the Citizens Bank Park exploded in noise.
Halladay, the 2003 American League Cy Young winner while with the Toronto Blue Jays, joined Philadelphia in a trade before the season and has delivered masterfully.
The right-hander, known by the nickname "Doc", posted a 21-10 regular season record that included a perfect game against the Florida Marlins in May -- the 20th perfecto ever registered in Major League Baseball.
"I felt like we got in a groove early," said Halladay, crediting Ruiz for being on the same wave length with his pitch calling in an outing that required 104 pitches. "I was just trying to be aggressive."
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said it was Halladay's assortment, from his sinking fastball to darting cutter and diving curve ball, that made him so hard to hit.
"He used all of his pitches pretty good," Manuel said. "He had a good cutter, mixed it up with his curve ball. He had a tremendous feel tonight."
Halladay, who finished with eight strikeouts, also helped himself with the bat, driving in the game's second run with a line-drive single to left to key a three-run outburst in the second inning that followed a single run in the opening frame.
Reds starter Edinson Volquez was chased by Shane Victorino's two-run single that followed Halladay's hit and completed the scoring in the game.
Victorino had scored the game's first run in the first when he doubled, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly.
The hardest hit ball by the Reds was a liner to right by Reds reliever Travis Wood in the third inning that was snared by Jayson Werth.
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker tried to find a positive.
"You don't want to get beat number one. You hate getting shut out number two, even worse no-hit," Baker said. "One thing for sure, we're due to get a lot of hits after this game."
The series resumes in Philadelphia on Friday.
(Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Frank Pingue)