ATLANTA (AP) -The Philadelphia Phillies never had any intention of going to the bullpen. Not with Roy Halladay on the mound.
Halladay threw a five-hitter for his first NL shutout - getting a couple of big assists from the defense - and the Phillies blanked the Atlanta Braves 2-0 on Wednesday night.
The night before, Philadelphia pulled Kyle Kendrick after eight scoreless innings with a 3-0 lead. Ryan Madson squandered it away, giving up back-to-back homers to Glaus and Jason Heyward with two outs in the ninth, and Nate McLouth homered off Jose Contreras in the 10th to give Atlanta an improbable 4-3 win.
This time, no one in the 'pen even got up.
``They were all down there eating peanuts,' manager Charlie Manuel said with a smile.
Halladay (4-0) was acquired in the offseason from Toronto to lead the staff of the two-time defending NL champions, and he's certainly lived up to the hype in his first four starts. Doc has worked 33 innings, allowing only 26 hits and three earned runs for an ERA of 0.82.
``My goal was to be aggressive and not cause any problems for myself,' said Halladay, who credited an improved changeup for his early success. ``It's worked out better than I could have thought so far.'
Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth both hit RBI doubles against Tim Hudson (1-1), but Halladay's latest masterpiece wouldn't have been possible without a pair of brilliant defensive plays.
Center fielder Shane Victorino stole away a likely homer from Troy Glaus with a leaping catch in the second, and second baseman Chase Utley made a diving stop on a shot up the middle to start an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the seventh.
``The defense was pretty good, wasn't it?' Manuel said. ``Doc was pretty good, too.'
Halladay went the distance for the second time this season and his 16th career shutout, getting another big defensive stop leading off the ninth. First baseman Ryan Howard made a diving play on a sharp grounder by Chipper Jones, then flipped backhanded to Halladay covering the bag.
``I tripped,' Howard joked.
Halladay, who led the majors with a career-high four shutouts last season, got the final two outs on infield grounders to snap Philadelphia's three-game losing streak and push the Phillies back into sole possession of first place in the NL East.
``So far, he's been everything he was built up to be,' Manuel said.
Hudson worked six solid innings and got out of several jams, but he had no room for error against Halladay. The Atlanta starter surrendered six hits, walked two and struck out five.
``We're not going to have a Halladay against us every day,' Hudson said. ``They had a little bit more luck than we did, and when you have a bit of luck and Halladay on your side, it's tough to beat.'
Halladay retired the first 11 hitters, struck out seven and walked only one. He threw 113 pitches, 71 for strikes.
``He's surgical out there,' Jones said. ``He knows what he wants to do. He's aggressive and he has great command of the strike zone.'
Werth and Ibanez led off the second with back-to-back doubles against Hudson, giving Philadelphia a quick lead. Juan Castro followed with a single to put runners at first and third, but the Atlanta right-hander got Carlos Ruiz on a short fly to right, struck out Halladay and retired Victorino on a liner to center.
After Hudson worked around Utley's double and an intentional walk to Howard in the third, the Phillies added to their lead in the sixth. Howard led off with a single, and Werth brought the big man all the way home with a double.
Glaus thought he'd gone deep for the second night in a row, hitting a towering drive to the deepest part of Turner Field. But Victorino ran back, timed his jump perfectly and reached over the yellow line at the top of the wall to steal away a homer.
The Braves threatened again in the seventh.
Jones and Brian McCann hit singles on the first two pitches of the inning. After Glaus struck out, Heyward worked Halladay for a walk to load the bases. Yunel Escobar then ripped a liner up the middle that looked to be headed for center field and possibly a tie game.
But Utley made a diving stop - perhaps helped slightly by the ball skidding off the side of the mound - and flipped to Castro, who threw on to first for the rally-ending double play.
``The biggest play was Victorino's pick,' Jones said. ``And Escobar's hard-hit ball of the side of the mound - that could have been two runs right there.'
NOTES: Phillies 3B Placido Polanco was struck on the left elbow with a pitch in the first inning and was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the seventh. X-rays were negative, but the team will see how he's feeling Thursday before deciding whether to put him back in the lineup. ... Five of Philadelphia's seven hits were doubles. ... Werth has an NL-leading nine doubles. ... Halladay has seven shutouts since the start of the 2008 season. ... Jones had two of Atlanta's hits, doubling in the fourth to become his team's first baserunner.
The Associated Press News Service
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