Halladay shows complete mastery

Philadelphia - Roy Halladay didn't think he was sharp warming up before the game. Boy was he wrong.

Halladay pitched a seven-hitter and his second complete game of the season to help Philadelphia set a club record with its 18th victory in April as the Phillies beat the New York Mets, 2-1, on Saturday.

He threw his first 18 pitches for strikes, becoming the first pitcher since 1991 to accomplish that feat. Sid Fernandez was the last to do so on August 6, 1991, against Pittsburgh according to STATS LLC.

“You know I was just trying to be aggressive. I wasn’t overly sharp in the bullpen as far as location, so coming out I was trying to focus more on making good pitches,” Halladay said. “That was really it. Was just trying to be aggressive, trying to throw strikes and you know got some early swings for some quick outs early on. That helped.”

His 107-pitch outing gave the Philadelphia’s bullpen a break.

“You tend to use a lot of the guys out of the bullpen in close games. To be able to go out and feel like I gave those guys at least a little bit of rest, you know it feels good,” said Halladay. “It’s what you want to do as a starter.”

Since joining the Phillies last season, Halladay has completed 11 of his 39 starts.

“Roy’s condition is off the chart. We all know that. I will compare him to a boxer who’s going 12 rounds and he’s trying for 25,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “He’s always got something in the tank.”

The NL CY Young award winner allowed one run and walked one while striking out eight to lead the Phillies to their third straight victory.

It was his seventh straight win over the Mets dating back to the 2006 season. During that stretch he has a 2.29 ERA in 55 innings pitched.

Mets starter Jonathon Niese (2-3) tried to match Halladay pitch for pitch but in the end came up short, charged with the loss after Placido Polanco’s sacrifice fly in the seventh broke a 1-1 tie.

“With a guy like him,” said Niese of Halladay, “You’ve got to minimize your mistakes.”

Halladay narrowly escaped jams in the fifth and sixth before John Mayberry Jr. tied it in the seventh for the Phillies with his first homer of the year, over the left-field wall. Wilson Valdez then singled to right field and Dane Sardinha drew a walk.

A single to right by Shane Victorino loaded the bases for Polanco.