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PHI@COL: Halladay fans seven over seven frames

DENVER -- Roy Halladay said the altitude in the Mile High City didn't affect him much during his high school pitching days at nearby Arvada West High School, but toeing the mound at Coors Field is a different story.

"In high school, I would throw all fastballs until there were two strikes, and then I would throw a curveball -- there wasn't much pitching to it," the Phillies right-hander said.

Halladay noticed what the altitude can do to his pitches during early struggles on Wednesday, but he battled through them, and with the aid of a big day at the plate from Ryan Howard, the Phillies capped off their second straight sweep with an 8-6 win over the Rockies in front of 39,404.

Halladay, who became the first National League pitcher to 14 wins this season, labored early, struggling to control his fastball in the thin mountain air. He gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits over seven innings. But the right-hander buckled down when he needed to most, facing the minimum over his final two innings with the help of two double plays.

His workmanlike effort was rewarded by Howard, who made up for a two-error gaffe in the first inning by driving in four runs, including two on his 24th home run in the sixth. Denver area native Brad Lidge put the finishing touches on the victory with the 100th save of his Phillies career, his first this season.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was impressed with the way Halladay kept the Phillies in the game on a day when he clearly didn't have his best stuff.

"He battled, that's a pretty good way of putting it," Manuel said. "He didn't have the command he usually has. Usually his command is outstanding. I thought he threw some close pitches, but at the same time it seemed like he was in a lot of deep counts. ... He hung in there. He gave us a good chance to win the game, and that's what we did."

It looked like the Phillies would blow things open in the first inning for Halladay against erratic Rockies starter Jason Hammel, who walked the first three batters he faced. But Hunter Pence's sacrifice fly was the only run they could muster.

The Phillies, though, didn't miss another chance to touch up Hammel. With two outs in the second, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino singled to bring home a pair of runs. After Chase Utley was hit by a pitch, Howard followed with a two-run double off the wall in center to cap a four-run frame.

Hammel (6-11) lasted five innings, surrendering six runs on four walks, a hit batter and eight hits. The right-hander struck out four.

"I'm infuriated," Hammel said. "This is unacceptable. This loss is on me."

Halladay was the victim of a couple strange plays that helped the Rockies plate two runs in the first. Leadoff hitter Eric Young popped up a bunt attempt, but it sailed over the head of the first baseman Howard for a single. Young stole second -- his eighth swiped bag of the season -- and scored when Howard committed a pair of errors on a routine ground ball from Dexter Fowler. Howard was twice unable to get a grip on the ball and then threw over the head of Halladay covering at first.

"It was one of those things where I just kind of rushed it," Howard said. "I saw the ball go toward my glove and then I picked my head up. I took my eye off the ball. Key lesson for all the kids out there: Never take your eye off the ball."

Fowler later scored on Troy Tulowitzki's sacrifice fly, and the Rockies added an RBI single from Eliezer Alfonzo in the second and a run-scoring base hit from Todd Helton in the third, which cut the Phillies' lead to one run.

But Halladay provided his own insurance in the fourth, when he singled and later scored on a wild pitch, just getting under the tag of Hammel. Howard then further amended for his misadventures in the field by belting a towering two-run blast to center off reliever Rex Brothers in the sixth. It was his first home run off a left-hander this season.

That was enough for Halladay, who said he prides himself on being able to add a few grind-it-out wins like this one to his resume.

"Regardless of how many [runs] you give up, you're doing the best you can to keep things minimal and give your team a chance," Halladay said. "I think sometimes if things aren't going your way early, it can be easy to cash it in. ... It's a mental grind as much as it is physical."

Helton cut the Phillies' lead to two runs with an opposite-field home run -- his 12th -- off Antonio Bastardo in the eighth. But Lidge, making fifth appearance since coming off the disabled list on July 25, retired the Rockies in order in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.

"It's nice to do it at home, for sure," Lidge said.

The sweep was the Phillies' second ever of three games or more at Coors Field. Philadelphia won all three games over the Rockies in Denver from May 7-9, 1999.

Now the Phillies turn their attention to a four-game series with the National League West-leading Giants in San Francisco. The Giants took two of three from Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park last week, but revenge isn't a motivating factor for the Phillies.

"You want to go there and just continue to focus on winning series," Howard said. "That's just the main goal right now. ... Whenever you go to San Francisco, the crowd is going to be rowdy. It's going to be a fun series." Comments