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PHI@PIT: Howard rips a single to score Francisco

PITTSBURGH -- The Phillies asked ace Roy Halladay to be their stopper, and the right-hander pitched them to a 7-3 win over the Pirates on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Phils, giving them one game of the three-game series against the Bucs.

"It's always good to have Halladay going," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "But when we just got through losing four games in a row -- yeah, it's good to have him going."

"I've always said I'd rather keep winning streaks going, but I think you just try and go out and do the best job you can regardless," Halladay said. "Cole Hamels did an unbelievable job the other night, but it really does take everybody to do it. I don't feel any different, just go out and try to make pitches and give us a chance."

Halladay hurled seven innings and allowed two runs on six hits. He recorded six strikeouts and upped his record to 8-3 to tie Pittsburgh's Kevin Corriea and Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo for the most wins in the Major Leagues.

Pirates second baseman Neil Walker gave a tip of the cap to Halladay.

"He's the best pitcher in baseball," Walker said. "I mean, guys like that don't get rattled easy. You don't see many pitches over the heart of the plate when you get a guy like that on the mound."

Pirates starter James McDonald was plagued by a spate of wildness. The right-hander tossed four-plus innings and gave up three runs on three hits; he also had five walks, two wild pitches and a hit batsman. He took the loss, falling to 3-4 on the season.

"It was big to stay patient," Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said. "McDonald had it kind of going early and then lost it a little bit, and we tried to make him throw more pitches and out-wait him."

The Pirates took the lead in the bottom of the first inning. Xavier Paul led off with a single and scored on Walker's home run to give the Bucs a 2-0 lead. It was the second baseman's eighth home run of the season.

"I didn't think it was a bad pitch," Halladay said. "We talked about trying to go down and in with him, and if we're going in trying to get up above his hands and we did. Maybe just not in enough, but I didn't think it was a terrible pitch, it was pretty close to where we wanted it."

The Phillies cut the Pirates' lead to 2-1 in the top of the fourth. Chase Utley drew a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Ryan Howard drew a walk, and both runners advanced a base on a passed ball. Utley scored on a sacrifice fly by Raul Ibanez. It was career RBI No. 1,000 for Ibanez.

The Phillies could have scored more than the one run in the frame, but they got a bad break when Domonic Brown's single hit second-base umpire Chad Fairchild. It was ruled a dead ball, and instead of a run scoring, the bases were loaded. Wilson Valdez then grounded into an inning-ending double play.

"I've seen that kill you," Manuel said. "But at the same time, it kind of [ticks] you off and you get fired up and you get more determined, and I kind of think that's what happened to us today. I think we were mad, because it happened and it might have helped us."

McDonald's wildness cost the Pirates in the top of the fifth inning as he walked the first three hitters: Halladay, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco. McDonald was lifted and replaced by right-hander Chris Resop.

With one out, Howard ended a 13-pitch at-bat by lofting a deep sacrifice fly to center field, knocking in Victorino to tie the game at 2. Ibanez was intentionally walked to load the bases. The Phillies took a 3-2 lead when Carlos Ruiz was hit by a pitch, scoring Polanco.

"I tried to battle and kept fouling pitches off, and I got lucky because I think he dropped one of them, I don't know what number it was," Howard said. "I kept missing fastballs and kept fouling them off, and finally I was able to catch up to one."

The Phillies made it 4-2 in the top of the sixth, when Halladay singled off Pirates reliever Evan Meek and eventually scored on a two-out single by Polanco.

Halladay dodged a bullet in the bottom of the seventh inning. With two outs and runners on first and third, second baseman Utley made a sparking play, laying out to snare a line drive off the bat of Pirates pinch-hitter Jose Tabata.

The Phils added a run in the eighth on an RBI single by Howard, making it 5-2.

The Pirates nicked Jose Contreras for a run in the bottom of the eighth to draw within 5-3 as Andrew McCutchen stroked an RBI single.

But the Phillies put it away against Pirates reliever Daniel McCutchen in the top of the ninth inning, plating two runs. Victorino and Howard delivered an RBI single apiece.

"We had some guys on base, and we ended up knocking seven of them in," Manuel said. "It was good to see that. Utley had three hits and he's starting to swing better. Howard had three RBIs and we got a couple of hits from Victorino, Brown and Polanco. We swung the bats OK."

Getting back in the win column eased some of the frustration in the visitors' clubhouse.

"We feel like these are games that we should win," Halladay said. "Not to take anything away from them -- obviously they have been playing pretty well lately, swinging the bats well and pitching well, but I think we feel like these are games we need to win, and I think at some point once you kind of get over that and get things rolling, I'm sure that it's a lot of weight off everybody."

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