PITTSBURGH - When the first inning of the Phillies' 7-3 win at PNC Park ended, Roy Halladay shouted a four-letter word he said was directed at himself for allowing a two-run home run that put the beleaguered Phillies in an early hole.
Home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez took exception, thinking it was meant as criticism of his strike zone, and yelled at Halladay. The two briefly met face-to-face and Hernandez began walking away as Placido Polanco intervened to hold Halladay back.
"I wasn't going to go after him," Halladay said.
A four-game losing streak had even the mild-mannered Halladay ticked Sunday. It prompted Charlie Manuel to order a full batting practice before the game, unusual for a Sunday morning, causing players to rush from the clubhouse to avoid being late. Even the Pirates grounds crew was surprised - the field was not prepared.
And for the first five innings, a sweep at the hands of the Pirates was not far-fetched. Halladay served up the bomb, the Phillies had a runner on third who could not score on a single, and they sent eight batters to the plate in the fifth without managing so much as one hit.
Seven runs and 14 hits later, there was relief. Three hours and 35 minutes of baseball was the perfect method for pounding out four days of frustration. The losing streak is over, some early adversity Sunday nothing more than a bump.
"Sometimes I've seen that maybe kill you," Manuel said. "But at the same time it kind of [ticks] you off and gets you fired up and you get a little more determined. I think that's kind of what happened to us today. I think we were mad because it happened, and it might have helped us."
So there was Halladay, scoring from second on a single in the sixth inning for what he believes to be the first time in his life. He slid for the first time since high school for the Phillies' fourth run of the game.
There was Chase Utley, finally looking like the dominant player of old, with three hits, a run scored, and a spectacular diving grab that elicited a fist pump and scream from Halladay.
There was Ryan Howard, saddled with an 0 for 11 in the series, working a 13-pitch at-bat for a sacrifice fly and rapping two run-scoring singles in the game's final two innings.
An element of frustration was expected. The Phillies had scored Sunday's total of seven runs in their previous four games combined.
It did not begin optimistically. In the fourth inning, a bizarre play could only cause sadistic laughter. With runners on the corners, Domonic Brown lashed a ball up the middle, but it struck second-base umpire Chad Fairchild on the foot.
Rule 5.09(f) dictates that on a ball that touches an infield umpire after it has passed the pitcher, play is dead and runners can advance only if forced. That meant Howard, who was standing on third, was not allowed to score, even though the ball was surely headed to center field. The next batter, Wilson Valdez, hit into an inning-ending double play.
The Phillies should have broken it open in the fourth or fifth. In a span of nine batters, Pirates starter James McDonald walked five, hit one, and threw a wild pitch. He threw 12 straight balls in the fifth inning before, mercifully, Clint Hurdle came to take the ball away from his starter.
The Phillies sent eight batters to the plate in the fifth and scored twice without the benefit of a hit. One run scored when Carlos Ruiz was plunked on the wrist with the bases loaded. Another came via a tremendous 13-pitch at-bat by Howard for the deep sacrifice fly.
In all, the Phillies stranded 16, but at least they had runners on base to strand. Three runs in the eighth and ninth padded a lead that was insurmountable.
"Whatever it takes to get us going is what matters," Howard said. "After today, the last four days don't matter anymore."