CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - As usual, Roy Halladay is ahead of everyone else.
The right-hander looked ready for opening day and beyond, pitching into the eighth inning to lead the Philadelphia Phillies past the Boston Red Sox 4-1 on Monday.
Halladay, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, flirted with a rare spring training complete game. He held the Red Sox to one run and five hits before being relieved by Ryan Madson with two outs in the eighth.
``I felt good, both arm and body. I felt strong,' said Halladay, who led the majors with 250 2-3 innings last year. ``I didn't feel like I got tired. I felt like I had a lot more left. Physically, I feel like where I need to be.'
The 33-year-old Halladay, who pitched a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter in his first season with the Phillies last year, struck out six and walked three.
``He's really good,' Boston manager Terry Francona said. ``You hate to sit on the other side and be impressed, but I'd pay to watch him pitch.'
Halladay, who is 3-0 with a 0.48 ERA in four Grapefruit League games, will make one more start in Florida before the Phillies break camp next week. He is on tap to start his second straight opening day for the pitching-rich Phillies on April 1 at home against the Houston Astros.
``He's ready,' Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. ``He threw 98 pitches today. He's about right where we want him to be.'
In addition to his work on the mound, Halladay got his first hit of the spring when he singled to right field with two outs in the fifth. It also was the first hit the Phillies had against Boston lefty Jon Lester.
In the sixth inning, with the game tied at 1, the Phillies scored three times off Lester. Raul Ibanez's RBI single and Josh Barfield's two-run single fueled the rally.
Lester left with two outs in the sixth, after six straight Phillies reached base.
``The first five innings was pretty good, sixth inning wasn't,' Lester said. ``With that being said, it goes back to the Braves game (last week). I'm not giving up extra-base hits or balls getting driven. I think they hit one ball in that (sixth) inning on the barrel. That's a positive thing. I fell behind some guys, which, obviously, we don't want to do. But all in all, I think it was pretty positive.'
NOTES: The Phillies signed three-time All-Star 2B Luis Castillo to a minor league contract. Castillo, cut by the rival Mets last week, will compete for playing time at second base while slugger Chase Utley is out. Utley is sidelined indefinitely with a right knee injury. ... Phillies CF Shane Victorino left in the top of the fifth with a bruised left eye and a sore jaw. Victorino collided with Ibanez on a fly ball off the bat of Nate Spears. After a brief stoppage in play, Victorino jogged off the field to applause. ... Phillies closer Brad Lidge is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game Tuesday. Lidge was scratched from an appearance last Monday with right biceps tendinitis and hasn't appeared in a Grapefruit League game since March 12. ... Phillies RHP Brian Schlitter (elbow) will have an MRI exam, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. Schlitter, selected off waivers from the New York Yankees last month, hasn't appeared in a game since Feb. 26. ... LHP Cliff Lee will make his fifth start of the spring when the Phillies travel to Dunedin to play Toronto on Tuesday. Lee is 1-2 with a 5.54 ERA in four games.
The Associated Press News Service
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