NEW YORK (AP) – Shane Victorino scanned the lineup card posted in the Philadelphia clubhouse, checking out who was playing for the New York Mets.
“Sorry, fellas, you all aren’t going to be the spoilers,” the center fielder said several hours before gametime.
Nope, not with Roy Halladay pitching for the Phillies.
Halladay earned his 18th victory, the most by a Philadelphia pitcher in 27 years, and helped himself with a two-run single that sent the Phillies past the Mets 8-4 Friday night for their fourth win in a row.
“I told him, ‘We won’t talk about your pitching tonight, we’ll talk about your hitting,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Ryan Howard and Chase Utley homered as the NL East leaders held their one-game edge over Atlanta. Wilson Valdez, subbing for injured shortstop Jimmy Rollins, drove in two runs and scored once.
In his first season with the two-time NL champions, Halladay is new to the pennant race. He’s never reached the playoffs.
“You look forward to coming to the field every day. You’re not packing boxes,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Halladay (18-10) became the Phillies’ top winner since John Denny posted 19 during his Cy Young season in 1983. A strange stat, considering Philadelphia’s success of late. In fact, every other franchise in the majors except Tampa Bay — with David Price currently at 17 — had a pitcher win at least 18 over that span.
Halladay tied Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez and St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright for the NL victory lead. He took over the league lead in strikeouts, fanning Luis Castillo for his 200th victim.
It was hardly vintage Halladay, as he allowed four runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings.
Halladay needed a mound meeting with catcher Carlos Ruiz after throwing only one pitch and again got bit by the home run bug. He nicked the No. 8 batter with a pitch and saw the opposing pitcher line a sharp single for his first career hit.
“There were times I was mechanically out of sorts,” he said.
Still, Halladay improved to 4-0 against the Mets this year. This marked his 53rd consecutive road start of going at least six innings, the longest such streak in the majors since Walter Johnson went 82 straight in 1911-15. Halladay tops the majors with 228 2-3 innings this season.
“That’s why he’s one of the best, if not the best in the game. Because he can pitch well without his best stuff,” said Mets star David Wright, hitless in three tries against Halladay and 2 for 15 with eight strikeouts versus him overall. “I thought he had good stuff. But he’s a bulldog out there.”
Carlos Beltran homered and Josh Thole singled three times off Halladay, making the Mets rookie catcher 6 for 9 lifetime against the Phillies ace. Jose Reyes returned after missing two weeks with a strained right oblique and delivered an RBI double.
“You get a different pattern every time you face him. But you know he’s going to throw strikes. I try to hit early in the count because I don’t want to get to his really nasty stuff,” Thole said.
Mets rookie pitcher Jenrry Mejia was more effective with his bat and legs than arm. He singled in the third for his first hit, then raced around the bases and belly-flopped home on a double by Reyes.
Beltran homered a batter later for a 3-2 lead. In Halladay’s previous start, he yielded a career-high four homers against Milwaukee.
Mejia (0-4) remained winless as a big leaguer.
Howard launched an opposite-field shot that cleared the high wall in left for his 29th home run, the solo shot making it 3-all in the fourth.
The Phillies loaded the bases with two outs later in the inning and, with Halladay due up, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen and all the New York infielders went to the mound. Halladay, a career .120 hitter with four RBIs lifetime at that point, chopped the next pitch over Mejia’s head for a go-ahead single.
“A lot of luck,” Halladay said.
NOTES: Rollins was out because of tightness in his right hamstring. He may miss a couple of games. … RHP Kyle Kendrick will start for Philadelphia on Saturday. He’s been struggling and the Phillies considered using rookie Vance Worley. … The Mets honored former C Ed Hearn and his foundation. He’s had three kidney transplants since 1991. A member of the 1986 World Series champs, he threw out the ceremonial first ball and winged it to the backstop.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)