WASHINGTON - Once it was all over, back in the visiting manager's office at Nationals Park, Charlie Manuel reenacted the show much to his own delight.
His visit to the mound in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 3-2, dramatic Phillies win was nothing more than performance art. There was no way Roy Halladay was going to tell his manager he was finished at 114 pitches with the tying run at first base. And so long as Halladay was breathing, Manuel had no intention of removing his ace until this game was either won or lost.
So Manuel entered stage left.
"I said, 'Well, Roy, here I am.' He said, 'I got 'em, I got 'em.' I said, 'OK, you got 'em then.'
"I turned and said, 'I'll give you a blow.' I looked at him and walked away."
Nine pitches later, it was over. Carlos Ruiz leaped from his crouch and dashed to Halladay, who slammed his glove into his fist. No, it was not another no-hitter or perfect game, but Halladay had gutted his way through a shaky ninth inning for his first complete game of the season.
"It got a little close," Halladay said. "It happens."
No one was surprised when Manuel departed the mound with Halladay still there. The Phillies fans that had overrun Nationals Park applauded the manager for his final scene in this victory as he returned to his perch on the top step.
"Short and sweet," Halladay said.
He wasn't sure what to expect when he saw Manuel emerge from the dugout.
"He's always been good with me," Halladay said. "I try to be honest with him. If I feel good, I let him know that. I felt like I was able to still make good pitches. There's times he's adamant, and I understand. Today he wasn't, thankfully."
Washington managed to snap a 30-inning scoreless streak Halladay had mounted against them by scoring twice in the ninth. But with the tying run on second base, pinch-hitter Matt Stairs looked at three straight strikes and Ivan Rodriguez was rung up on three pitches to end it. Halladay was victorious.
"That's him right there," Ruiz said.
It was Halladay's ninth strikeout of the night and his 123d pitch of the game, making it the second most he's thrown as a Phillie.
Halladay had allowed just two hits in eight innings, both to Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche, who had talked his way into the lineup while battling a groin strain. In the ninth, Rick Ankiel led off with a double and Jayson Werth followed with a single. When Werth scored the second run of the inning on Danny Espinosa's single, he clapped his hands as he crossed home plate. That was the final run.
Halladay was asked if the visit by Manuel helped slow things down after the Nationals had shockingly jumped on him to begin the final inning. He answered in perfect Halladay fashion.
"I may be naive, but I never felt in trouble," he said. "I felt like it was just a matter of making good pitches. There never was a panic or rush thing."
The Phillies offense didn't exactly rough up John Lannan, a pitcher they have handled with ease before. One run scored with the help of two Ian Desmond errors in the fourth, including an interference call on the bases. Another scored on a Ryan Howard bases-loaded hit by pitch. Placido Polanco scored the other with a two-out single up the middle.
Howard had an X-ray on his right wrist after the game, a team official said. It was negative, but Howard had the wrist wrapped following the game.
It took 22 pitches for Halladay to finish it off in the ninth, but when he did, it meant nothing less than a shutout would have. Maybe it meant even more.
"He reached back and got something," Manuel said. "Good pitchers do that."
And this Roy Halladay isn't too bad.