MIAMI - When Laynce Nix swung to secure the 200th victory of Roy Halladay's storied career, the pitcher did not immediately see it. Halladay delivered eight satisfying innings Sunday, and while there was temptation to stay in the dugout as his teammates batted, he stuck to the plan. Halladay retreated to a back room and started his arm exercises.
The game is shown with a slight delay inside the visitors clubhouse at Marlins Park. Halladay heard yelling from another room. He caught a glimpse of a TV just in time for Nix's ninth-inning solo home run. Phillies 2, Marlins 1, and 200 for Halladay.
"Man," Halladay said, "it's a great feeling."
There was relief in the 35-year-old pitcher's voice. The Phillies presented Halladay with a champagne magnum to commemorate his achievement as the 112th pitcher to 200 wins. He was the first since Steve Carlton in 1978 to do it in a Phillies uniform.
A few of his teammates spoke Sunday afternoon when presenting his gift. Halladay did not say much. "I'd rather win a World Series," Halladay said, according to manager Charlie Manuel.
But that bottle traveled to Atlanta, then home to Philadelphia and on to Miami. Halladay pitched 71/3 innings and allowed 12 runs in his first two starts. The ace of aces was unrecognizable. Eight innings of one-run ball, even against a wretched team like the Marlins, is sweet right now.
"There are a lot of things you can't control," Halladay said. "And for some reason I felt like I had to control those things. I've never been that way and for some reason coming in I felt like I had to prove that I was healthy. I had to prove that I was effective. . . . Really, my focus this whole was week was, what's my job? How can I help us? How can I do my job effectively and not get caught up with everything else going on?"
In 87 pitches, Halladay helped the Phillies survive a trip to Miami by barely taking the series from a hapless Marlins squad. They needed extra innings to win Friday and a pinch-hit bomb from Nix on Sunday. The Phillies began the ninth inning tied, 1-1, with Miami for three straight days.
Halladay limited a dreadful Marlins offense. Miami has scored 20 runs in 12 games. The Marlins were without their best player, Giancarlo Stanton, who was sidelined Sunday with a shoulder injury. Their lineup featured Placido Polanco batting third and Greg Dobbs hitting fourth.
"I don't want to talk about the Marlins," Manuel said. "They can beat you. They beat us , didn't they? What the heck? I never like to talk that way. I'm sure they're going to play hard. They'll beat some people that you don't think they might beat."
Until Halladay pitches again, Friday against St. Louis, no one knows whether this was the start of a renaissance or mastery of an abject lineup. Halladay said he could throw any of his pitches for strikes when he wanted Sunday, an ability he lacked before. He worked with a better pace. In the later innings, he jumped ahead of hitters.
"I thought he looked awesome," Nix said. "That's just good to see."
That feeling permeated the clubhouse.
"They root for him," Manuel said. "He carries a lot of respect. They know how dedicated and how hard he works."
The scouting report across baseball calls for a different approach to Halladay. In the past, when he carved up the strike zone, hitters were advised to swing early in counts. Patience is preached now.
Miami eschewed that. Halladay threw 10 pitches each in the third, fourth and fifth innings. He needed just six in the sixth. The Marlins scored in the seventh on a Chris Valaika RBI single. The threat was larger until catcher Rob Brantly created a double play with boneheaded base running.
Before Sunday, starting pitchers against Miami compiled a 1.09 ERA. The Marlins helped Halladay by handing him three free outs in the form of bunts.
"This is the way I've always done it," Halladay said, "and this is what I need to get back to."
His first win, Sept. 27, 1998, was a 2-1 game. The score was the same for No. 200, and the meaning extended well beyond that round number.