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It was a no-hitter, but only one game

Phillies aren't taking anything for granted and Reds aren't concerned about bouncing back.

October 08, 2010|Kevin Baxter

PHILADELPHIA — When Roy Halladay came off the field after his historic performance in the opening game of the National League division series, his Phillies teammates closed the clubhouse door behind him, then stood and applauded.

But the cheering lasted only a few seconds before Halladay cut it off.

"All he said was, let's win two more," reliever Ryan Madson said.

Because as brilliant as Halladay was in becoming only the second pitcher to throw a postseason no-hitter, it won't mean anything if Philadelphia doesn't win two of its next four games with Cincinnati. That's a task the Phillies hope to begin Friday when they send right-hander Roy Oswalt to the mound against Reds ace Bronson Arroyo.

"Last night's gone," Philadelphia Manager Charlie Manuel said Thursday. "That's one game. We've got two more games to win to actually win the series."

History -- and not just the Halladay kind -- is on the Phillies' side. While Arroyo hasn't beaten Philadelphia in a decade, Oswalt is 23-3 lifetime against the Reds. And the Phillies' scheduled Game 3 starter, left-hander Cole Hamels, has never lost to Cincinnati, going 6-0 with a 1.07 earned-run average in seven starts.

Reds Manager Dusty Baker knows the numbers but figures they should probably go ahead and play the games just the same. Especially because his players have thrived this season when the odds were against them.

"This is a very resilient team," said Baker, whose Reds came from behind to win 45 games during the regular season, 22 times in the final at-bat. "Every time we've had a tough go, usually we come back and win. So once you've done it once, you can do it again and do it again and do it again."

Outfielder Jay Bruce agreed.

"We've been bouncing back all year," he said. "That is the bottom line: We have to bounce back or we're not going to be here very long."

The no-hitter, Bruce added, is something the Reds simply "look at as a loss." And during batting practice Thursday, Bruce, the only Cincinnati player to reach base against Halladay, showed he's not attaching any extra importance to the game by shouting up to a crowded press box, first spelling his name, then adding, "Remember, I walked. It was a no-hitter, not a perfect game."

"We can come back out and tie the series," Bruce said during a more conventional interview Friday. "And in the scheme of things, that no-hitter means nothing other than we got beat the first game."

Well worth the wait

Although much of the attention has rightly focused on Halladay, who made his playoff debut Wednesday after a dozen seasons in the majors, there's a player on the Phillies roster who waited even longer to get to the postseason.

First baseman Mike Sweeney, in his 15th season, has more service time in the big leagues without appearing in the postseason than any active player. And though the Ontario High product didn't get into Game 1, he said simply making the roster and getting to run onto the field during pregame introductions was more exciting than he had imagined.

"Having my wife and kids here and my parents, it was a moment I'll never forget," said Sweeney, a five-time All-Star who was traded from last-place Seattle, where he had fewer than 100 at-bats, to the Phillies in August. "I didn't even have an at-bat. But it was by far the highlight of my career."

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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