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10/22/10 1:29 AM ET

Doc battles through groin injury to lead Phils

Ace overcomes second-inning tweak to extend postseason run

SAN FRANCISCO -- Phillies ace Roy Halladay barely topped 90 mph on Thursday and had to grind his way through all six of his innings. This is not a man used to grinding. This is a man who worked a perfect game in May and followed up with a no-hitter in his postseason debut. He won 21 games in the regular season, with nine complete games and four shutouts. He almost certainly will win his second Cy Young Award.

Something was wrong with Halladay in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, and nobody outside of the inner circle knew until after the Phillies' biggest game of the season that he pitched most of the night with a right groin injury. But his teammates knew, and given the stage and the circumstances -- his Phillies on the brink of elimination -- one of those teammates called it Halladay's best outing all year.

"Maybe one of the best outings he's ever had," said Brad Lidge, who powered through the ninth inning to close Halladay's 4-2 win and send the NLCS back to Philadelphia.

"We knew he wasn't at 100 percent, and that makes it all the more impressive what he did," Lidge said. "Man, he competed out there. He battled, and he didn't have one of his legs underneath him."

A one-legged Halladay for the final five of his six workmanlike innings was still good enough to hold the Giants in check. He threw 108 pitches, surrendered two runs on six hits while pulling the Phillies back to 3-2 in a series that continues Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

He shied away from Lidge's praise. Halladay did not want to be painted as a hero.

"All year, we've never had heroes," Halladay said. "We've been a very good, solid all-around team, and we need to continue doing that."

He'll likely be a cheerleader for the rest of the NLCS while getting treatment on that balky right groin. Halladay tweaked it during a second-inning at-bat against Giants outfielder Cody Ross. It hurt, but not enough to consider coming out of the game.

Had it been April and not October, Halladay would have at least had a conversation with the athletic trainers on that topic. Such a conversation never happened on Thursday. Halladay stayed loose by riding a stationary bike between innings. He made a point to shorten his stride, which led to the dip in velocity.

"You try and make due," he said.

If this was making due, it was pretty good.

"It's satisfying," Halladay said. "You don't ever want to have to overcome those things, but it's a good feeling when you do. To be able to go out and still give us a chance to win, that's fun for me."

His current setback is much less serious, Halladay said, than the groin strain he suffered last season against the Marlins. He nonetheless downplayed his availability for Games 6 and the potential Game 7. The Phillies need to win both, behind Roy Oswalt on Saturday and Cole Hamels on Sunday, to advance to a third consecutive World Series.

"We didn't overdo it [tonight] and hopefully it's something I can take care of before we hopefully move forward," Halladay said.

"He was determined he was going to stay in there," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Once he got up to 108 pitches and once he got us to a place where I felt like our bullpen could definitely have a chance of saving him, that's when we got him out."

Halladay had a different problem in the bottom of the first inning, when the Giants scored first on Buster Posey's RBI fielder's choice. That grounder to second base might have been an inning-ending double-play ball, but Chase Utley bobbled it.

The Phillies escaped further damage when Halladay struck out former Phillie Pat Burrell with a pitch low and in. Burrell had a few words with plate umpire Jeff Nelson and was annoyed when he noticed Halladay watching the exchange. Burrell fired a few choice words toward Halladay, who locked Burrell in an icy stare as he walked back to the dugout.

"It's interesting to me, because I have seen every one of Halladay's starts this season," MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams said on the FOX broadcast. "I have not seen him that mad."

What was going on there?

"What was going on with him? I don't know," Halladay said of Burrell. "I was watching what was going on, and he started yelling. You understand, there are a lot of emotions at this point in the season. He's a competitor, and those things happen. I was looking at him, but I don't know if that initiates anything.

"I thought it was a pretty good pitch, and he had a conversation with the umpire, I looked at him, and then he started yelling."

Halladay's groin was doing the barking beginning in the second inning, when he struck out Ross to start a 1-2-3 inning. Thus began the adjustments, which led to a noticeable dip in velocity.

His fastball averaged 92.6 mph during the regular season, according to the FanGraphs website. But MLB.com's Gameday radar gun registered only one pitch above 92 mph after the first inning, a 95-mph fastball fouled off by Pablo Sandoval during a 10-pitch at-bat in the second.

Halladay topped 90 mph only once during his final two innings. In the sixth, working mostly with cutters, curveballs and changeups, Halladay threw only three four-seam fastballs, according to the online Pitch f/x tool.

"We threw it a lot," he insisted of his fastball. "There just wasn't much on it."

"He was down a click or two, but he was still able to get the execution on his pitches," Lidge said. "Once we got the lead, you could see that he wasn't going to give it back to them."

Halladay got the Phillies through the sixth, and four relievers combined to hold San Francisco scoreless over the final three frames.

"You give him credit," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It was a gutty effort by him. We had him on the ropes a few times, and we were just missing another hit."

Halladay has now has thrown 272 2/3 innings since the start of the season, the third-most in Major League Baseball since 2000. Halladay trails a pair of 2001 D-backs. Curt Schilling threw 305 innings and Randy Johnson threw 291 on the way to the World Series championship.

Halladay would need an absolutely epic World Series to pass Johnson -- 19 more innings. Halladay would like the chance to try.

"We needed to win to get back home," he said. "I think we're looking forward to it."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.