Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum have four Cy Young Awards between the two of them, but only one of the right-handers has displayed that form so far.
Halladay looks to win for the third time in three starts this season and pitch his Philadelphia Phillies to consecutive wins tonight in the opener of a three-game series against Lincecum's San Francisco Giants.
After pitching to a 5.73 earned run average this spring, Halladay has pitched well when it has counted. The 34-year-old, who has won Cy Young honors in both leagues, has allowed just one run over 15 innings in winning his first two starts. He threw eight scoreless frames in a tight win at Pittsburgh on April 5, then got more support in victory over the Marlins on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old lasted seven innings and scattered five hits and a run, striking out three in a 7-1 win. That margin allowed Halladay more room for error than his 1-0 win over the Pirates.
"[Being up] five-six runs helps. It helps a lot. You can go after guys. You're trying to be as aggressive as you can," Halladay said.
Picking up that third victory could be surprisingly difficult for Halladay this evening given that he is 0-2 with a 7.23 ERA in three career starts versus the Giants.
Continued struggles by Lincecum tonight could work in Halladay's favor tough.
San Francisco's ace has been touched for 11 runs over 7 2/3 innings in his first two starts, giving up five in 5 1/3 frames of a loss to the Diamondbacks on April 6. The 27-year-old then lasted only a career-low 2 1/3 innings in Colorado on Wednesday because he yielded six runs and eight hits, but he got a no-decision in his club's 17-8 defeat.
Opponents are hitting .368 off Lincecum so far, a stark contrast to his 2011 start in which he gave up just one earned run over his first 14 innings.
"A lot of the pitches I threw were sloppy," said Lincecum after facing the Rockies. "I wasn't executing pitches and missing a lot of my throws. That's going to hurt you, especially in this park."
Lincecum has fared well versus the Phillies, beating them twice last season with a 0.66 ERA. He is 4-1 against them lifetime with a 2.61 ERA in nine starts.
He'll try to deny the Phillies a victory tonight when the club opens a 10-game road trip out west. Philadelphia embarks on the swing with some positive vibes after snapping a two-game slide with Sunday's 8-2 win over the Mets.
Laynce Nix doubled home the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, a hit that was preceded by Ty Wigginton's game-tying sac fly. Wigginton then added a three- run double during a five-run eighth inning.
Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence each had two hits, an RBI and scored twice for the Phillies, who had totaled just 20 runs in their first eight games of the season.
A two-run homer by New York's Ike Davis was among the six hits allowed by Phils starter Cole Hamels. The left-hander recorded 10 strikeouts over seven innings.
"Cole is the whole reason we won today's game," said Wigginton. "Anytime you get a pitcher out there battling like that and doing everything possible to win the game you want to help them out, and fortunately we got to win the game in the end."
The Giants, meanwhile, failed to sweep their three-game series with the Pirates, losing Sunday's final 4-1.
Ryan Vogelsong took the loss in his first start of the season after recovering from back pain that caused him to miss time during spring training. He gave up just two runs on four hits and three walks while fanning seven in 6 1/3 innings.
"He threw great. He did a great job in his first time out," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said about Vogelsong.
Emmanuel Burriss knocked in the only run of the game for the Giants, who had a three-game winning streak halted.
Philadelphia took three of four in San Francisco last season.