Perhaps the rumors of Roy Halladay's demise were greatly exaggerated.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner eyes a third straight winning decision on Tuesday when the Philadelphia Phillies open a brief two-game series against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
After a subpar 2012, Halladay was dogged by velocity concerns this spring and then was awful to start the year, as he dropped his first two starts, surrendering 12 runs in only 7 1/3 frames.
However, the 35-year-old righty has resembled his old self his last three times out, going 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA.
Halladay did not get a decision on Wednesday against Pittsburgh, but was again terrific, yielding just a run and a hit in six innings. But like his previous start against the St. Louis Cardinals, he got into too many deep counts. Halladay threw 25 pitches in the first inning and 95 pitches (57 strikes) overall.
"If I can stay there and be a little more effective early in the game, that would be ideal," said Halladay, who is 6-2 lifetime versus the Indians with a 3/52 ERA in 13 games (12 starts).
Philadelphia enters this series on a bit of a roll following a three-game sweep of the New York Mets that culminated with a 5-1 win in Sunday's finale at Cit Field.
Ryan Howard's pinch-hit two-run double put the Phils ahead for good in that one. Howard has driven in 10 runs in his last five games after knocking in only six in his first 19. He's also riding a 10-game hitting streak, during which he's batting .351 with three doubles, two doubles and 11 RBIs.
The Phillies, who outscored the Mets, 18-5, in the series, also got a boost with the return of catcher Carlos Ruiz, who missed the team's first 25 games serving a suspension for a positive test of a banned stimulant.
Cleveland, meanwhile, managed to split its four-game series with the Kansas City Royals on Monday, as Ryan Raburn went 4-for-4 with two homers and four RBI in a 9-0 rout. Asdrubal Cabrera drove in two runs while Jason Kipnis hit a solo homer and scored twice for the Indians, who won the final two games of this series.
"It's great. This team battles," said Raburn. "That's all you can ask for. Sometimes the chips fall our way. Sometimes they don't. It's just going out there and playing hard and, hopefully, the balls rolls to our court and we can roll with it. Tonight we were able to."
Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2) gave up just three hits and two walks with four strikeouts over seven-plus innings to pick up his first win in five starts.
Getting the call for the Indians on Tuesday will be righty Zach McAllister, who is 1-3 with a 3.52 ERA. McAllister lost his second straight start on Wednesday in Chicago, as the White Sox reached him for three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. McAllister, though, walked five batters in the loss.
Philadelphia swept the Indians the last time these teams met back in 2010.