PITTSBURGH (AP) - James McDonald's control problems on Sunday made it nearly impossible for the Pirates to beat the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner.
Pittsburgh wasn't going to let that ruin the good feeling it got from the weekend.
Roy Halladay pitched seven effective innings and the Philadelphia Phillies snapped a season-high four-game losing streak with a 7-3 win over the Pirates.
The loss to the four-time defending NL East champions did little to dampen spirits in the Pittsburgh clubhouse after the game.
``It was a great series for our ballclub and the city,' Pirates second baseman Neil Walker said. ``We played hard and played well against the team with the best record in the league in front of three great crowds. It's something to build on.'
The Pirates won the first two games of the series, which drew 108,807 fans - the fourth-largest three-game series in PNC Park history. That 36,269 per-game average was inflated by several thousand Phillies fans, but the Pirates' average attendance entering the series was 18,765.
Walker hit a two-run homer in the first inning, one of six Pittsburgh hits off Halladay (8-3), who had six strikeouts and one walk in tying for the most wins in the majors.
``We just played a weekend series that was as good as you'd ever want to get in the regular season against a very good ballcub,' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ``We won two of three and made them play us all day to beat us in the third game. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of areas to improve in, but everything we planned coming out of spring training, well, we're heading in that direction.'
Ryan Howard had three RBIs, Chase Utley was on base four times and Placido Polanco had two hits and scored twice for Philadelphia.
Playing without leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins (bruised knee), the struggling Phillies offense - seven runs in the previous four games - had 14 hits and was aided by seven walks, two hit batters, two wild pitches and a passed ball.
Halladay did his part at the plate and on the basepaths with a single and a walk and by scoring from second on a single by Polanco in the sixth.
``He did it all today,' Howard said. ``He kind of rallied the troops, running the bases, scoring on a base hit.'
The Phillies had only one hit during the fourth and fifth innings when they scored their first three runs. But they banged out 11 hits over the final four innings.
Halladay avoided the distinction of allowing 10 or more hits for three consecutive starts for the first time in his career.
``Not to take away anything from (the Pirates); obviously they've been playing pretty well lately,' Halladay said. ``But I think we feel like these are games we need to win, and at some point you kind of get over that and get things rolling. I'm sure this is a lot of weight off of everybody.'
With two outs in the sixth of what was then a two-run game, Brandon Wood and pinch-hitter Matt Diaz singled off Halladay. Pinch-hitter Jose Tabata then sharply lined the first pitch he saw toward right, but second baseman Utley extended for a spectacular diving catch to end the inning.
Raul Ibanez earned his 1,000th career RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fourth, and the Phillies scored twice in the fifth after McDonald was pulled upon throwing 12 consecutive balls to load the bases with nobody out.
``I lost command of all my pitches, lost all control of them,' McDonald said. ``It just happened all of a sudden.'
McDonald (3-4) came in having allowed only four runs in his previous three starts but had control issues, walking five, hitting a batter and throwing two wild pitches in four-plus innings.
Walker sent a high cutter from Halladay to right-center for his eighth homer of the season, giving him a team-high 39 RBIs - most among National League second basemen.
But that was all Halladay permitted.
``He's the best pitcher in baseball,' Walker said. ``A guy like that doesn't get rattled easily. You don't see many pitches over the heart of the plate when a guy like that is on the mound.'
Pittsburgh added a run in the eighth off Jose Contreras to pull within 5-3, but Antonio Bastardo struck out Garrett Jones with two on to end the inning.
Polanco and Shane Victorino had RBI singles for the Phillies, who completed a 4-5 road trip.
``After today,' said Howard, ``the last four days don't matter anymore.'
NOTES: Pittsburgh (28-30) missed a chance to move to .500 this late in the season for the first time in six years. ... The Phillies had a sure run taken away in the fourth when a ball hit by Domonic Brown struck umpire Chad Fairchild and, by rule, Howard was not permitted to advance from third.
The Associated Press News Service
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