It took more time than he would have liked, but Roy Halladay has gotten back to the level at which he's accustomed to pitching.
That's good news for a Philadelphia Phillies team which manager Charlie Manuel believes is starting to click.
Philadelphia seeks a fourth straight victory as it visits the Cleveland Indians to open a two-game interleague series Tuesday night.
After finishing an injury-plagued 2012 with a 4.49 ERA that was his worst in 12 years, Halladay (2-2, 5.08 ERA) struggled through a disappointing spring before giving up 12 runs in 7 1-3 innings while losing his first two outings this season.
"I think coming out of spring training, having short outings, having some poor outings, coming back wanting to prove that I was healthy, my focus wasn't on making pitches," Halladay told the team's official website. "My focus was on trying to prove something that necessarily didn't need to be proven."
The two-time Cy Young Award winner has seemingly gotten his mind right and his form back, going 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA over his last three starts. He allowed one run and struck out eight in six innings of a 5-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
"I feel good," Halladay said. "I think that there's always things to improve on. Everything is coming around. If I can be a little more effective early on in the game, I think that would be ideal."
Ryan Howard also has gotten things going since beginning the season in a 4-for-27 funk. He's batting .351 during a 10-game hitting streak and has driven in 10 runs over the last five.
Howard's pinch-hit, two-run double broke a seventh-inning tie as Philadelphia (12-14) beat the New York Mets 5-1 to complete a three-game sweep Sunday.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz, an All-Star last season, returned from a 25-game suspension for using a banned substance, going 1 for 4 with a double.
Manuel, whose team outscored the Mets 18-5 during the series, wasn't keen on having a day off between games given how well the Phillies have been playing.
"I want to keep playing," Manuel said. "We're starting to play sounder baseball."
Cleveland may be starting to feel that way as well.
Ryan Raburn went 4 for 4 with two homers and four RBIs as the Indians won 9-0 in Kansas City on Monday, splitting a four-game set.
Asdrubal Cabrera drove in two runs and is hitting .414 during an eight-game hitting streak for Cleveland (10-13), which outscored the Royals 19-3 to win the last two games.
Cabrera has five RBIs in the past five games after having just three through his first 16.
"It looks like he's starting to get a little more aggressive with his swings. That's good," manager Terry Francona told the team's official website.
The Indians look to stay on track behind Zach McAllister, who has pitched relatively well but doesn't have much to show for it.
McAllister (1-3, 3.52) hasn't given up more than three earned runs in any of his four starts while getting two runs of support or fewer in three of them. The right-hander allowed three runs and walked five in 5 2-3 innings of Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Halladay is 6-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 career starts versus the Indians, though he hasn't faced them since 2009.
These teams haven't met since the Phillies swept a three-game set June 22-24, 2010.
Outfielder Delmon Young was activated from the 15-day disabled list by the Phillies after missing the first 26 games because of offseason surgery on his right ankle. Young is batting fifth and is the designated hitter Tuesday.
Cleveland's Nick Swisher is out of the lineup because of a sore left shoulder.
The Associated Press News Service
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