Roy Halladay's remarkable ability to focus was immediately challenged, and it was done so one paper cut at a time.
The annoyances began Friday night when the first two Texas Rangers he faced - Elvis Andrus and Mitch Moreland - singled through the infield. Reading the stoic Halladay's body language is challenging, but he gave home plate umpire Andy Fletcher a few quick glances to illustrate he wasn't happy with his strike zone.
Many other pitchers would have unraveled when Andrus stole home on a double steal. Not Halladay. At that point, he pretty much told the Rangers that enough was enough, and the Phillies went on to a 3-2 win at Citizens Bank Park.
Halladay gave the Phillies eight strong innings, allowing six hits and striking out seven, before Ryan Madson finished the task with his 12th consecutive inning of scoreless relief to get his eighth save in eight opportunities.
For this night, at least, the Halladay-Madson tandem threw a coat of fresh paint over the offensive misery. The Phillies won even though they had no more than five hits for the sixth time in the last seven games. They had scored 13 runs in their last seven games, and it was the first time they had scored more than two since Saturday.
The Phillies had four hits, two of them home runs, one by Ben Francisco and the other by Raul Ibanez.
In the second inning, when Francisco sent a C.J. Wilson pitch over the fence in left field, the Phillies had their first two-run inning since they scored a pair in the sixth inning of Sunday's game at Atlanta. It was a span covering 40 innings.
Among the many Phillies who appear to be squeezing the bat handles into sawdust out of frustration, Francisco has been a primary exhibit. He went into the game with four hits in his previous 43 at-bats, prompting manager Charlie Manuel to find him a seat on the bench and turn right field over to John Mayberry Jr.
But with Shane Victorino on the disabled list and after Thursday's adventurous play in center by Michael Martinez, Manuel put Mayberry in center and Francisco returned to right because the manager doesn't want to force-feed Domonic Brown to lefty pitching.
Before the game, Manuel hedged when asked whether he thought Francisco could be an everyday player.
"He's one of those guys where his streaks are short streaks and he shows he can hit a fastball," Manuel said. "He has enough talent to help you at times, so I'd never say he can't be [an everyday player]. But let me put it like this: When you're that kind of player, you have to do enough to stay in the lineup, if that makes sense."
Ibanez, the Phillie most familiar with Wilson's stuff, gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead when he pounded a homer to deep-right center in the fourth. Ibanez went into the game 2 for 19 with seven strikeouts against Wilson. Since the start of the 2010 season, Texas was 30-12 in Wilson's starts. During that span, the 30 wins are the most by any team when an individual pitcher starts.
Meanwhile, the resumé Halladay had against the Rangers during his years in the American League was far from impressive. In 20 previous appearances against Texas - 19 of them starts - he was 7-7 with a 5.36 ERA. Halladay also was trying to avoid his third straight loss. He had pitched eight-inning complete games in his previous two.