Halladay doomed by first-inning hiccup

Halladay doomed by first-inning hiccup

Halladay doomed by first-inning hiccup
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies ace Roy Halladay sat at his locker for an extended period Friday night before finally peeling off his uniform for the final time this season and leaving it in a pile on the floor.

Despite pitching another gem in the playoffs, Halladay was left to stomach the stinging reality that the run he allowed in the first inning turned out to be the difference in a season-ending 1-0 loss to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series.

"The hard part is you think about all the work you put in over the course of the year and all the anticipation and all the excitement," Halladay said. "All of a sudden, that kind of dissipates. It's tough. It's hard to have it end like that. You always want to finish happy. It's hard to end a season losing."

That's the bitter finality for the Phillies, who were shut out by Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter on three hits. Halladay was nothing short of terrific, pitching eight innings and allowing six hits while striking out seven batters. The only walk he allowed was intentional.

Halladay gave up four runs, all of which came in the first inning, in 16 frames over two starts in the NLDS. Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman hit a three-run homer off Halladay in the first inning in Game 1, but the Phillies rallied to win.

On Friday at Citizens Bank Park, Halladay gave up a triple to Rafael Furcal and a double by Skip Schumaker -- following a gritty 10-pitch at-bat -- to start the game and put the Phillies in a 1-0 hole. Then Halladay got on a roll, giving up only three hits the rest of the way.

"They came out aggressive, came out to try and get us early," Halladay said. "The Furcal pitch was up and Schumaker had a good at-bat. I threw him two or three pitches that were good pitches and he just kept fouling off. He was taking balls on the edge and got a curveball that wasn't a terrible curveball, but it was a very good at-bat. I threw a lot of pitches and really had to work. They came out fighting early."

The only inning in which Halladay had a higher ERA than the 3.66 ERA he posted in the first inning of his 32 starts in the regular season was the ninth inning (6.75). Halladay appeared to begin pitching with more of a purpose, more intensity, after the first inning Friday.

"It looked like he came out and went right at Furcal, and Furcal jumped on his fastball," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Actually, that turned out to be the big hit of the game. I don't know what to say. He was great. When he got in a jam early and he pitched out of it, that just goes to show you how good he really is."

In Game 1 of the series on Saturday, Halladay gave up a leadoff single to Furcal and walked Albert Pujols with one out before Berkman's homer. Halladay then settled down to retire the next 21 batters and got the win.

The Cardinals pushed him a little harder on Friday, with Halladay pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth.

"From the first inning on, I was going to do everything I could not to give up a run," he said. "In all these games, every pitch, every inning, you're doing everything you can. Obviously, the cliche is you leave it all out there, but it's true. You do that every single inning. If I had gone three innings, I was hoping not to give up a run. You just do everything you can. You know that every pitch is going to mean something and you're hoping we get back in it and overcome it. It's definitely a tough way to go."

Halladay, who went 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA and 220 strikeouts during the season and could win his third Cy Young Award, has started five games for the Phillies in the playoffs in the past two years, and he is 3-2 with a 2.37 ERA and a no-hitter.

All that mattered to him as he collected his thoughts Friday was that the Phillies -- the preseason favorite to reach the World Series -- are going home after the first round.

"We felt like we had the team to do it, and we came up short," Halladay said. "It's tough to describe. Obviously, trying to win the World Series is the ultimate goal for us and will continue to be. It's tough right now. I think it's something that won't sit well for us this winter. Hopefully we can pick up strong again next year."

Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.