SAN FRANCISCO -- The line looks OK, but the perfectionist in Roy Halladay knows better.
He can be better than that.
He allowed two runs in eight innings in Monday's 5-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. His effort helped the Phillies win the first game of their longest road trip of the season, a 10-game jaunt through San Francisco, San Diego and Arizona. It also made him 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA this season and gave him his first win against the Giants, the only team other than the Phillies he had never beaten in his career.
Halladay allowed six hits, two runs and three walks and threw 85 pitches through five innings, but allowed just one hit and threw 24 pitches in the final three.
"Really, all three starts of the year I've just felt better later on," he said. "Once I get going, I feel like I get in a rhythm and I'm repeating better. I'm working on trying to do a better job of that early in the game. ... It's not that it's not there. It's just not consistent. It's there, but I feel like at times early on I get caught trying to make something better than it should be and getting away from what I should be doing. Really, I think that's the biggest thing, staying within myself and not trying to make better pitches than I need to. I feel like that's been the biggest reason."
Fortunately, the offense offered Halladay some wiggle room.
They jumped on Giants ace Tim Lincecum early, scoring four runs in the first inning, which prolonged Lincecum's early-season struggles. He entered the night 0-1 with a 12.91 ERA and finished 0-2 with a 10.54 ERA.
Placido Polanco got things going with a gift double when the ball dropped in between center fielder Angel Pagan and right fielder Melky Cabrera. Lincecum walked Jimmy Rollins and allowed back-to-back singles to Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino to score Polanco and Rollins to make it 2-0. Laynce Nix, who started at first base because he was 2-for-6 with a home run and three RBIs in his career against Lincecum, doubled to right field to clear the bases to hand the Phillies a four-run lead.
"That double by Polanco kind of hurt him," manager Charlie Manuel said of Lincecum. "We caught some breaks. His command at the start was erratic, but after that he was pretty good."
"Fortunately, we were able to get on him early," Nix said. "He did settle down. He had his good stuff."
Halladay continued his first-inning struggles, which have been well documented. He allowed a leadoff single to Pagan, who eventually scored to make it 4-1. Halladay walked two batters in the inning, something he did just four times last season. He shouted to himself as he struck out Brandon Crawford to end the inning.
It appeared he did not like the 2-2 pitch called a ball that led to Brandon Belt's two-out walk.
Halladay seemed to have issues with home-plate umpire Marty Foster during the game, although he said afterward he had no problem with Foster's strike zone. But when Halladay struck out Pagan to end the second inning, Halladay gave Foster a nice long look as he returned to the dugout. He later barked and pointed toward home plate after he walked Aubrey Huff in the fifth inning.
"No, I was talking to Carlos [Ruiz]," Halladay insisted. "There were some [calls] that were close, but they weren't strikes. The tough part is you're frustrated at yourself when you don't make pitches you want to make. Usually that gets me more than the umpires."
So the pitcher with the perfect record and 1.17 ERA thinks there is plenty of room for improvement, although he could head home happy with the way he swung the bat. He singled down the right-field line to score Freddy Galvis from second base in the fourth inning to make it 5-2.
"I was going to go up swinging," Halladay said. "Luckily, I got a pitch I could hit. I'll take it. Especially a guy like that. I'm overmatched if he starts throwing anything soft or anything moving. I got to get him early."
"I was trying to go down and away," Lincecum said. "Maybe an inch lower and it's a groundout to first base."
The Phillies scored eight runs Sunday and five runs Monday. It is the first time since Sept. 8-9 in Milwaukee that they have scored five or more runs in consecutive games.
Maybe it is a sign things are improving offensively.
Halladay would welcome it. But for now, he is trying to fine-tune his mechanics, getting the consistency he needs so he can cruise through the early innings like he cruised through the final three Monday.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.