It wasn't until his 130th and final pitch that the struggling San Diego Padres finally got to Roy Halladay.
Even so, Will Venable's RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning Sunday merely denied the Philadelphia Phillies and their sensational pitching staff a third shutout during the course of a four-game sweep.
Halladay tied his career high with 14 strikeouts and the Phillies beat the Padres 3-1 for their fifth straight win.
Halladay (3-1) took a two-hitter into the ninth before allowing three singles, including Venable's run-scoring base hit. Antonio Bastardo came on with runners on first and third and got pinch-hitter Nick Hundley to fly out to left on his first pitch for his first save.
"I felt good," Halladay said. "Even at the end I felt good. It was one of those days where, especially through the middle innings, there weren't a lot of high-stress pitches, and I think that plays a part into it, especially being able to throw more pitches. If you're doing it with the bases loaded every inning, it takes a different toll."
Halladay's 130 pitches were the most in the majors this year.
Halladay was so dominant, mostly with his changeup and curveball, that San Diego didn't get a baserunner past first base until the ninth. He allowed only five singles while walking one. Halladay, who struck out at least 10 for the 12th time in his career, fanned six straight at one point. He struck out everyone in the lineup except pitcher Wade LeBlanc.
Halladay retired 16 in a row until the ninth.
"He's one of the best in all of baseball," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "He was on today. We got to him but it was a little bit too late."
Halladay also struck out 14 on June 2, 2009, against the Angels.
Cameron Maybin singled leading off the Padres' ninth and was erased at second on Jason Bartlett's dribbler. Chase Headley's single to left-center moved Maybin to third and he scored on Venable's hit.
"They were just balls over the middle of the plate," Halladay said. "I think especially Maybin, I thought he went up looking first-pitch ambush and he got a pitch he could handle. The last one was more a mistake on my part leaving the ball over the plate. If you go with something soft there or something down in the zone, we're OK."
Said Headley: "You certainly don't want to put yourself in a position to salvage a game against a guy like him. If he's not the No. 1 guy in baseball, he's close."
On Thursday night, Roy Oswalt and three relievers combined for a four-hit, 3-0 win. On Friday night, Cole Hamels held his hometown Padres to four hits in eight innings in a 2-0 win.
San Diego did manage to score on Saturday night, but lost 4-2 to Joe Blanton.
Shane Victorino hit an inside-the-park home run leading off the seventh inning when his drive into the gap in right-center came off Venable's glove as his arm hit the ground while trying to make a diving catch. The ball rolled into center as Victorino rounded the bases and came in with a headfirst slide. It was the first of his career.
"I saw the ball go in the gap and I thought Venable had a good chance to catch the ball," Victorino said. "I saw him dive for the ball. At first I thought he caught it and then I located where the ball was. The whole time I was running hard and Juan Samuel kept sending me and I kept going."
The Phillies have won 11 straight at Petco Park, and 15 of 16, since the 2008 season.
The Phillies opened the sixth inning with four straight hits to score two runs before LeBlanc limited the damage. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard singled, Ben Francisco had an RBI single to left and John Mayberry Jr. an RBI double to left. After Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked to load the bases, Francisco was forced at home and Halladay hit into an inning-ending double play.
LeBlanc (0-1), called up earlier in the day from Triple-A Tucson to make the start, allowed three runs and nine hits in eight innings, walked four and struck out two.
NOTES: Victorino's inside-the-park HR was the first for the Phillies since Chase Utley did it on July 9, 2009, against Cincinnati. It was the first against San Diego since Colorado's Garrett Atkins on Sept. 23, 2007. That homer came about when left fielder Milton Bradley stepped on center fielder Mike Cameron's right hand while the two pursued the ball. ... The Padres made room for LeBlanc by optioning reliever Pat Neshek to Triple-A Tucson. Manager Bud Black said the Padres will likely need to make another move to bring a reliever back up.