Rarely will Roy Halladay break character. He's robotic on the mound. (Save the atypical occasion when he slams the rosin bag to the ground after a walk). Win or lose, he talks with the same tone after a game. (Never too excited and never upset to a fault.)
But when he was asked if Sunday's 8-3 loss to Boston was caused by a larger problem of his recent overuse, the Phillies' ace turned somewhat sarcastic.
"Obviously, I've had games before when I haven't pitched well," Halladay said. "It's a matter of getting back to what you do. And I didn't feel like we were far off today. It's part of the game. Those things happen. I'm pretty sure over the rest of my career, it's going to happen again."
Against the Red Sox, Halladay endured his worst start as a Phillie. He pitched just 52/3 innings, breaking a streak of 17 consecutive starts with at least six innings dating to last season. He allowed seven runs (six earned) and struck out only one batter - the second time in his 13-year career he pitched at least five innings with only one strikeout.
It was Halladay's shortest outing since Aug. 19, 2009, also against Boston.
But, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said, it had nothing to do with Halladay's having thrown more than 115 pitches in each of his last four starts - the first such streak in Halladay's career.
"Not a damn thing," Manuel said.
With a scuffling Phillies offense that went 19 straight innings (eight on Sunday against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield) without scoring a run until unloading for three in the ninth off Boston mop-up man Ramon Ramirez, Halladay had little room for error.
"He could have gotten out of trouble," Manuel said. "He ran into some different circumstances today."
Like an inexcusable error by fill-in third baseman Greg Dobbs in the fourth. Dobbs had a sure double-play ball go right through his legs. Two runs scored as a result. And Halladay faced eight batters in the inning, the most in any one inning this season.
"I just missed it," Dobbs said. "He made his pitch, I let him down."
Halladay said he was more upset about the sixth inning, which was ultimately his undoing. He allowed a leadoff home run to Kevin Youkilis on a 3-2 curveball that stayed up in the zone. Youkilis scored three runs and was 2 for 2 with a triple, walk and home run off Halladay. He is batting .375 (21 for 56) against Halladay in his career, which is the highest batting average for any opponent with at least 50 plate appearances against the righthander.
Halladay had walked Youkilis in the fourth inning, prompting the spike of the rosin bag. He didn't want to walk Youkilis again and threw the curve, which Youkilis hit just over the 334-foot marker on the left-field wall.
"It's kind of a Catch-22," Halladay said. ". . . It's a tough pitch. Obviously, he hit it to the right part of the park."
The next two batters reached base on hits and Halladay allowed four runs in the inning before being yanked.
"I just didn't make good pitches," Halladay said. "That's the bottom line."