The only good news for the San Diego Padres on Sunday was that the Philadelphia Phillies left town.
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Then again, the Atlanta Braves are coming in for a series starting Monday night, and they just had a three-game sweep of the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Roy Halladay tied his career high with 14 strikeouts and the Phillies beat weak-hitting San Diego 3-1, coming within one out of their third shutout during a four-game sweep.
”Hopefully, this is our late August, early September of last year,” third baseman Chase Headley said. ”Hopefully we can get it out of the way early this year and put some good months together.”
The Padres were cruising atop the NL West late last August when they lost 10 straight games. They stumbled through September and were eliminated from playoff contention in a loss at San Francisco on the season’s final day.
Halladay (3-1) took a two-hitter into the ninth before allowing three singles, including Will Venable’s RBI base hit with two outs. Antonio Bastardo came on with runners on first and third and got pinch-hitter Nick Hundley to fly out to left on his first pitch, for his first save.
Shane Victorino hit an inside-the-park home run leading off the seventh inning when his drive into the gap in right-center came off Venable’s glove as his arm hit the ground while trying to make a diving catch. The ball rolled into center as Victorino rounded the bases and came in with a headfirst slide. It was the first of his career.
The Phillies have won a season-high five straight. They’ve won 11 straight at Petco Park, and 15 of 16, since the 2008 season.
Halladay was so dominant, mostly with his split-fingered fastball, that San Diego didn’t get a baserunner past first base until the ninth. He allowed only five singles while walking one. Halladay, who struck out at least 10 for the 12th time in his career, fanned six straight at one point. He struck out everyone in the lineup except pitcher Wade LeBlanc.
He retired 16 in a row until allowing two singles in the ninth.
Halladay also struck out 14 on June 2, 2009, against the Angels.
The Padres scored only three runs in the four games, on 22 hits. They struck out 39 times.
”I think everyone feels it a little bit,” Headley said. ”You definitely want to come through in situations where you have a chance to come through. We have enough guys who have been around the game and understand it’s part of the game. You have to keep going.”
The Phillies opened the sixth inning with four straight hits to score two runs before LeBlanc limited the damage. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard singled, Ben Francisco had an RBI single to left and John Mayberry Jr. an RBI double to left. After Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked to load the bases, Francisco was forced at home and Halladay hit into an inning-ending double play.
”You always know who is on the mound on the other side, so you can’t afford to give up too many runs,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc (0-1), called up earlier in the day from Triple-A Tucson to make the start, allowed three runs and nine hits in eight innings, walked four and struck out two.
NOTES: Victorino’s inside-the-park HR was the first for the Phillies since Chase Utley did it on July 9, 2009, against Cincinnati. It was the first against San Diego since Colorado’s Garrett Atkins on Sept. 23, 2007. That homer came about when left fielder Milton Bradley stepped on center fielder Mike Cameron’s right hand while the two pursued the ball. … The Padres made room for LeBlanc by optioning reliever Pat Neshek to Triple-A Tucson. Manager Bud Black said the Padres will likely need to make another move to bring a reliever back up.