WASHINGTON – Roy Halladay followed eight dominant innings with one rather shaky one and, suddenly, Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was ambling out to the mound.
Pulling his pitcher? Nope. More like a quick chat, to hear Manuel tell it.
"I said: 'Well Roy, here I am,'" Manuel recounted. "He said: 'I got 'em.' He said: 'I got 'em. I got 'em.'" So Manuel finished off the exchange by telling the righty: "Well, OK. You got 'em, then.'"
Halladay certainly did.
Finishing with a flourish, Halladay struck out the game's last two batters with his final six pitches, holding on to throw his first complete game of 2011 and lead the Phillies past the Washington Nationals 3-2 Wednesday night.
Through eight shutout innings, Halladay (2-0) allowed only a pair of singles by Adam LaRoche, who talked his way back into Washington's lineup despite a hurt groin. In the ninth, Halladay allowed four hits, including RBI singles by Laynce Nix and Danny Espinosa.
"It may be naive, but I never felt in trouble. I felt like it was just a matter of making good pitches," said Halladay, who finished with nine strikeouts and two walks. "There was never like a panic or rush feeling."
With two on and one out, the two-time Cy Young Award winner fanned pinch-hitter Matt Stairs and Ivan Rodriguez, who argued the game-ending call on Halladay's 123rd pitch at length.
"From where I was at, it looked like he had it all going. He could throw any pitch at any time," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "He's the real deal."
John Lannan (1-1) fell to 0-9 against Philadelphia despite pitching solidly Wednesday.
"Going against a guy like Halladay, you've got to match him, and I didn't do that," Lannan said. "I won't be happy until we beat them — and I pitch."
He allowed only two earned runs — plus one that was unearned — and six hits, five of which were singles. Shortstop Ian Desmond's two errors in the fourth led to one run, and the Phillies added two in the fifth, including when Lannan hit Ryan Howard on the bottom of his right wrist with the bases loaded.
Howard had X-rays, which showed nothing was broken.
All in all, Lannan wasn't bad, but nothing compared to what Halladay produced. If Lannan can't beat the Phillies, Halladay can't lose — well, almost can't — to the Nationals or anyone in the NL East, for that matter. He is now 9-1 against the club over his career, and has won his 11 starts against division opponents since June 2010.
"He beared down at the end. He reached back and got something. Good pitchers do," Manuel said. "When you reach down and do, that means you're in good shape."
The scariest moment for Halladay — and his team — came in the fourth, when half of Espinosa's broken, splintered bat flew directly at the pitcher's head. Halladay ducked out of harm's way at the last instant, and his defense recorded a double play.
"Not scary," he said. "Shocking."
Halladay walked one batter in 15 2-3 innings this season before he issued consecutive free passes to Desmond and Rick Ankiel in the third. But ex-Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth — booed by large batches of Philadelphia fans each time he strode to the plate — grounded out to end the inning.
The last time Halladay walked two batters in a row also came against the Nationals, on Aug. 20 last season, when Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman drew bases on balls in the first inning.
After LaRoche's second hit, leading off the fourth, Halladay retired 14 of 15 batters.
"He did what he always does," LaRoche said. "He's around the zone, a ton of strikes. That being said, not a lot over the heart of the plate."
Then came the ninth, when Ankiel led off with a double, and Werth singled, putting runners at the corners. After LaRoche struck out, Nix singled to right, ending Halladay's scoreless streak against Washington after 30 innings. Espinosa then scored another with an infield single.
With Jose Contreras warming up in the bullpen, Manuel went out for a visit, but left Halladay in.
"You feel you should clean it up on your own," Halladay said, "instead of bringing someone else in."
NOTES: Wednesday was the second anniversary of the death of Phillies announcer Harry Kalas, who collapsed in the broadcast booth at Nationals Park before a game on April 13, 2009. "We lost a tremendous person. He was a face for the Phillies — a voice. He'd been around a long time. He was very popular and well-liked," Manuel said. "He was good for Philadelphia, he was good for the Phillies, and he was good for baseball."