WASHINGTON -- Nobody loved the hot and humid weather more Monday than Charlie Manuel.
"This is hitting season," he said.
But the oppressive heat and relentless sun can make life miserable for a pitcher. Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay had to pitch seven innings through temperatures at Nationals Park that felt warmer than the 92 degrees announced at first pitch. But Halladay prepares himself for afternoons like this, and he ultimately prevailed.
"It was a grind," Halladay acknowledged after a 5-4 victory over the Nationals. "It really was."
"I saw him gut it out," Manuel said. "They were swinging. Like I told [Raul] Ibanez, 'This is hitting season. Don't get shut out.' It's hot, it's warm and they're swinging. Teams get up for Roy, which is good. He likes that. That's part of competing. That's part of who he is. That's part of wanting to be a champion. Some days you're going to get hit, but I'd say he passed the test pretty good today."
Halladay (7-3) allowed 10 hits, four runs, three home runs and struck out five in seven innings. He had been nearly unhittable in his first five starts against the Nationals (5-0, 1.15 ERA) since joining the Phillies last season, but his fortune changed Monday.
Michael Morse hit a solo homer in the second to hand the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Halladay allowed a solo homer in the fifth to Danny Espinosa to tie the game at 3 and a solo homer to Laynce Nix to right field in the sixth to give the Nationals a 4-3 lead.
Halladay had allowed just two homers in 84 1/3 innings this season before allowing three Monday, just one short of his career high.
Halladay said he had no problems with the pitches to Morse and Espinosa, although he wanted the cutter to Nix back. But those pitches were in the past, and after a leadoff double to Alex Cora and a single to Ian Desmond put runners on the corners with nobody out in the seventh, Halladay found himself in a major jam.
He got Rick Ankiel to hit a ball back at him. He knocked down the ball, picked it up and got Cora in a rundown. The Phillies got Cora for the first out, but the Nationals still had runners on first and second with one out.
"You're just trying to make pitches and hope something good happens," Halladay said. "It was fortunate. A lot of balls throughout the game weren't hit where we wanted them, but I got one when I needed it back at me."
Espinosa flied out to left for the second out, and Jayson Werth struck out swinging on a fastball for the third out to preserve the Phillies' one-run lead.
"I don't feel like there's ever a truly comfortable at-bat against him," Espinosa said. "There's so many ways he attacks you, and if he feels like you're on, he switches it up. All of his pitches are plus-pitches. They say you get one pitch an at-bat, but he's a guy where you might get one pitch an at-bat and you better take advantage of it."
The Phillies took a 3-2 lead in the fourth with back-to-back home runs from Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. They trailed, 4-3, going into the seventh, but they scored twice to take the lead in that frame.
Manuel is constantly searching for the perfectly balanced lineup, but he went with total imbalance Monday and lined up left-handed hitters Chase Utley, Howard and Ibanez in succession to face Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez.
Manuel knew it could haunt him in the later innings with two left-handers in Washington's bullpen, but he was willing to take a shot.
Placido Polanco hit a one-out single to center in the seventh against Hernandez. Nationals manager Jim Riggleman summoned left-hander Sean Burnett from the bullpen to face Utley, Howard and possibly Ibanez. The move made sense. Left-handers had hit just .179 (5-for-26) against him this season.
"I figured they would bring lefties in on the guys," Manuel said.
Burnett walked Utley to put runners on first and second. Howard was hitting just .186 (13-for-70), with four doubles, one triple, seven RBIs, four walks and 25 strikeouts against left-handers before hitting a game-winning double against Mets left-hander Tim Byrdak on Saturday night at Citi Field.
Howard singled to right against Burnett to score Polanco to tie the game at 4. Ibanez followed with a sacrifice fly to right to score Utley for the lead.
"It's nothing new," Howard said. "Teams are going to bring in lefties when Chase, myself and Raul are all stacked up. It's just going out there and trying to get a good pitch to hit."
The Phillies ended Memorial Day with the best record in baseball. Since three-divisional play began in 1995, more than 60 percent of teams leading their divisions or Wild Card races have made the postseason.
"We're close to really being healthy," Manuel said. "We should be at 100 percent and our offense should pick up. Our pitching has been there all year. We could really get into a season where we play real good baseball. It's kind of up to us. We're the ones that have got to make it happen."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.