IT WAS AN ODD night down at the old ballgame.
The first standing ovation came when the Phillies starting pitcher performed the unremarkable task of walking from the bullpen to the dugout. The next came when he gave up a hit in the top of the first.
That's what happens when you are Roy Halladay, making your first appearance since pitching a perfect game in Florida a week earlier.
But then another Citizens Bank Park sellout roared when Juan Castro fouled off a pitch in the fourth. Although it could be that it was actually a reaction to the fact that the Flyers had just scored their first goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals across Pattison Avenue.
And that's the way it was.
Something old. For the 12th straight game, the Phillies failed to score more than three runs.
Some things new. They won anyway, besting the first-place Padres, 3-2. And closer Brad Lidge earned just his second save of the season and his first since May 9.
"Any time you get a W," said Shane Victorino, who hit a two-run homer in the third and scored the winning run after doubling in the fifth. "We need to find a way to get this thing going. If something like this jumpstarts our offense, that's what we're supposed to do."
Halladay was far from perfect this time. He needed 108 pitches to get through seven innings. He gave up 10 hits. Only Jim Bunning (11) gave up more in the subsequent start after a perfect game among the 14 pitchers who have authored perfectos since the 1961 expansion. But he walked just one and was able to hold the Padres to two runs. He stranded six runners in scoring position.
And while he admitted he was aware of the way the crowd reacted, he insisted he approached this start no differently than any other.
"It's the same every time out. You just want to go out and make pitches," he said. "I really had no other agenda. I turned the page pretty quickly. I didn't feel like I was going to go out and try to do anything differently."
The Padres had a chance to do some damage in the eighth, loading the bases with one out against Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero. But Chris Donorfia grounded into an inning-ending doubleplay and Lidge put the Padres down in order in the ninth, striking out two.
"That's the best I've seen him," Halladay said. "He was outstanding. I think that's a great sign for us."
Lidge, who is coming back from elbow and knee surgery, wasn't quite ready to declare that he's back. "I feel real good right now. That's all I'm going to say," he said, grinning. "It felt great. I've just been anxious to get out there and pitch, especially in that situation."
Padres starter Mat Latos had held opponents to a .160 against batting average in May. The Phillies, however, were patient. They worked four walks against Latos. Victorino's homer came on a 2-0 count.
His double came with one out. It took an infield single, a hit batter and a walk to bring him home. But he scored and that was just enough to make the difference.
"It's good to see us win the game. That's what counts," said Charlie Manuel.
The manager and general manager, Ruben Amaro Jr., continue to express confidence that their lineup will produce again soon. Former Phillie Matt Stairs, now with the Padres, called them "a walking time bomb, just waiting to go off."
Still waiting. But the Phillies won, which meant that the questions about the lack of offense - 17 runs in the last dozen games - were largely absent.
"There are little signs here and there that we're about to bust out," Lidge said. "Until then, it's great to win a game like this."
Matt Stairs, who played for Phillies teams that went to the World Series each of the last 2 years, received a warm round of applause before last night's game when he was introduced on the field and presented with his '09 National League championship ring. He's best remembered for his dramatic, game-winning home run at Dodger Stadium in Game 4 of the '08 National League Championship Series and said somebody mentioned it to him again when he walked into the stadium yesterday. "When somebody reminds you of a home run you hit 2 years ago, that's nice," he said . . .
A crowd of 45,080 gave the Phillies their 66th consecutive sellout at Citizens Bank Park . . . Former Phillies Darren Daulton and Tyler Green will represent the team in New York when the annual June draft kicks off Monday . . . Padres outfielder Will Venable jammed his neck sliding headfirst into third base in the fifth and left the game for a pinch-hitter in the sixth . . . Righthander Scott Mathieson and first baseman Matt Rizzotti were named the Phillies' minor league pitcher and player of the month for May. Mathieson was 1-0 with an 0.64 earned run average at Triple A Lehigh Valley in 11 games. He also was 5-for-5 in save opportunities. Rizzotti, 24, batted .352 with four homers and 17 RBI while splitting time between Class A Clearwater and Double A Reading. *