Final play nearly killed Halladay’s no-no

The final out of Roy Halladay’s no-hitter nearly was a mess.

The Reds’ Brandon Phillips hit a squibber in front of home plate, flipping his bat into fair territory. The bat came in contact with the ball, but Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz recovered to throw out Phillips from his knees.

Plate umpire John Hirschbeck ruled that the ball was in play, determining that the bat was still when the ball rolled into it, according to a major-league official who spoke with Hirschbeck after the game.

Hirschbeck told the official that if the bat instead had rolled into the ball, he would have called Phillips out.

Fortunately, Ruiz made the play.

Otherwise, Halladay would have lost his no-hitter in a controversial manner, likely triggering a firestorm of reaction.

Ruiz said he was “panicking” while the play was in progress. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said, “If I’d have been catching, I probably would have picked the ball and the bat up and thrown them both”

In the postgame interview room, a reporter asked Halladay, “Did your heart skip a little bit when the ball kind of hit the bat?”

“Yeah, I saw it bounce around the bat — tough play, good runner,” Halladay said. “Carlos made a great play.

“It kind of hit the bat and chucked up a little bit. It definitely wasn’t an easy play, but it couldn’t happen to a better guy to have Carlos get the last out.

“It was fun, definitely exciting, an exciting way to end it.”