READING - In sweltering heat under the watchful eye of Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, lefthander J.A. Happ moved a small step closer to returning to the team in a rehab start Sunday with the Reading Phillies.

Happ lasted 21/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits in a 7-5 Eastern League win over the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

"I think it's just going to take a little bit to get the arm speed back to where I feel crisp," Happ said. "I definitely need to get sharper, but on a positive note, I felt OK."

Amaro, sitting behind home plate during the outing, was not available for comment.

Happ tossed 57 pitches (36 for strikes), struck out four batters, walked one and hit another. His fastball was in the mid-80s. He allowed five hits and all four runs in the top of the third.

"I thought it went OK," Happ said. "I got through it; I threw my pitches. But obviously, I wasn't real sharp, especially with off-speed stuff."

Happ, on the disabled list since April 22 with a strained left forearm, was coming off a rehab start Tuesday in Clearwater, Fla., when he allowed two runs over three innings.

"I felt pretty close to the same" Happ said. "I felt pretty good both times. It just wasn't quite there today. I wasn't quite sharp."

Happ said there has been no timetable for his return but that he will throw a bullpen session with the Phillies in New York when they start a series against the Yankees on Tuesday.

Happ's struggles in the third started when Richmond leadoff man Darren Ford doubled off the center-field wall. Thomas Neil homered to left-center on a 1-0 cutter, putting the Flying Squirrels up, 2-0.

"The home run ball was supposed to be a cutter in, but it just kind of spun [over the plate]," Happ said. "It made a loud noise when he hit it and it went out of the park. I was spinning some balls out there and they got a hold of those pretty good."

Happ then allowed three straight singles before being relieved by Ty Taubenheim.

The game started with Happ striking out Ford on three straight fastballs. Two pitches later, he induced a weak pop-up to short.

The lefty's only trouble in the first came when he started working in his breaking pitches. Happ hit the third batter he faced with a cutter and walked the fourth batter in a seven-pitch at-bat.

He got out of the inning with another shallow pop-up to second.

Happ had more success with his off-speed pitches in the second. He opened the inning by striking out rightfielder Roger Kieschnick swinging on a curveball and ended it by fanning pitcher Daryl Maday on a fastball.