ATLANTA - There was nothing to be said when Charlie Manuel came for the ball. A red-faced Roy Halladay dropped it in Manuel's hand and stormed off the field at a brisk pace. Hours later, once a bizarre 15-13 Phillies loss to the Braves had ended in 11 innings and quieted a Phillies clubhouse that bounced with levity beforehand, Halladay was still stoic.
He had no sinister explanation for why his right arm had suddenly failed him, and he blew a six-run lead.
"Honestly, I felt good," Halladay said. "There were some pitches with guys on that I didn't execute. It had nothing to do with anything else. I wish I had a better reason for you, but I don't. It was just a lack of executing pitches in key situations. That's what cost me."
Wednesday was difficult to comprehend. The Phillies had not lost a regular-season game when scoring 13 or more runs since 1969. Before this day, Halladay had been handed a four-run lead 118 times in his career. Only eight times did his team lose, and never was Halladay charged with the defeat.
He avoided that ignominy Wednesday, which meant absolutely nothing. Seven Carlos Ruiz RBIs were not enough when the ace of aces was shellacked and a shortened bullpen was mashed.
"That's what hurts the most when you have games like this," Halladay said. "Your teammates are out there grinding and getting it done. And I didn't. That was the difference."
The night will be remembered as one of the most bizarre of the season, and will generate plenty of concern.
The game was ultimately lost when Brian Sanches, summoned from triple A just a day earlier, was the last pitcher standing because of an overtaxed bullpen. On Sanches' 41st pitch, Chipper Jones shook Turner Field with a walk-off two-run homer in the 11th.
The Phillies twice blew leads of six and four runs and tied it with two outs in the ninth. That was necessary because Jose Contreras and Michael Schwimer combined to surrender four runs in the eighth. Manuel said Chad Qualls was unavailable and Jonathan Papelbon was. But he would only pitch for three outs once the team had a lead. It never reached that point.
Halladay put the Phillies in that position. He blew a six-run lead in one inning and then allowed the Braves to jump ahead in the next frame. He cruised through the first four innings with ease; he needed just 46 pitches.
In the fifth, the Braves bludgeoned him with five singles. Then, Halladay threw a horrible belt-high cutter over the heart of the plate. Brian McCann destroyed it for a grand slam, and a half-full stadium erupted. Halladay looked back for two seconds and then asked for a new ball from the home-plate umpire.
"He's human," Manuel said.
Halladay had gone 50 innings without allowing a home run before McCann's shot. It was only the fourth grand slam ever hit off him and the first in four years. And he had not allowed six runs in one inning since May 10, 2007.
Halladay, red-faced and laboring, was sent out for the sixth inning and allowed two more runs before Manuel finally asked for the ball. Both Manuel and Halladay said there was no discussion whatsoever to remove him. He had thrown only 79 pitches.
Questions about Halladay's effectiveness have floated despite positive results. His velocity is down, but it was right at his season average Wednesday. He is throwing his cutter more than ever, but he claims that is by design. Until Wednesday, a 1.95 ERA and 25 hits in 37 innings had quashed any legitimate worries.
It looked as if his catcher would bail him out on this night. Ruiz smashed a three-run home run in the seventh inning to reclaim the lead, 9-8. Then he extended the lead to four runs with a bases-clearing double in the eighth inning.
The Phillies had not lost a game when scoring as many runs since Aug. 3, 1969, when Cincinnati beat them 19-17. As the Phillies sauntered off the field on which the Braves celebrated, they could ponder so many lost opportunities. But the most shocking was Halladay's collapse.