Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay unleashes a pitch in the first inning… (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images )
Jayson Werth said he could sense that something wasn't right with Roy Halladay. He had no idea what.
What Werth sensed but didn't know was that Halladay was pitching with a mildly strained groin from the second inning on.
For almost five innings, one of the best pitchers on the planet pushed off an injured limb, determined to extend the Philadelphia Phillies' season and regain home-field advantage in the National League Championship Series.
By itself, Halladay's line in the Phillies' 4-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in the Game 5 of the best-of-seven series wasn't particularly remarkable: two runs, six hits, five strikeouts and two walks in six innings.
But the story of what Halladay endured to win his rematch against Giants ace Tim Lincecum intensified the admiration directed at the maestro by his teammates.
"I think it's one of the most impressive outings he's ever had," closer Brad Lidge said. "He gutted it out."
The Phillies still trail in the series, 3-2, but will host the remainder of the games. Roy Oswalt, who shut down the Giants in Game 2, will start Game 6 Saturday. If there is a Game 7, former World Series most valuable player Cole Hamels will take the mound.
"We're going back to our place," Halladay said. "We have two great pitchers going for us."
And if the Phillies reach the World Series, Halladay said he expects to pitch there.
"When are you going to be available? Next year?" Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said he asked Halladay.
Halladay's response: "Five days."
Halladay's shakiest inning Thursday was his healthiest.
He started the game by walking Andres Torres. Then he gave up a hit to Freddy Sanchez. When he fell behind, 2-0, to No. 3 hitter Aubrey Huff, he received a rare visit on the mound from pitching coach Rich Dubee.
Halladay forced Huff to line out to first base and got Buster Posey to hit a grounder to second. But Chase Utley failed to get the ball in his glove immediately, costing the Phillies a potential double play and allowing Torres to score.
The Giants were ahead, 1-0.
Halladay said he hurt himself while facing the leadoff hitter in the next inning, Cody Ross.
"It's not ideal," Halladay acknowledged.
Upon returning to the dugout, Halladay told Dubee and the trainers what had happened. Taking him out was never a consideration.
"He was not going to let us take him out," Manuel said. "He wanted to stay in."
Lincecum encountered his own problems in the third inning.
He gave up a leadoff single to Raul Ibanez, then plunked Carlos Ruiz with an 0-2 pitch.
Ibanez and Ruiz both moved up a base on a bizarre bunt play involving Halladay, and they scored on a fielding error by Aubrey Huff.
The Phillies weren't done. Shane Victorino, who reached base on Huff's error, was driven in on a single by Polanco.
The Phillies were up, 3-1.
Lincecum said he should have made better pitches after Huff's mistake. Relayed Lincecum's words, Huff shook his head.
"He's taking up for his first baseman," Huff said. "This is squarely on me."
Fans at AT&T Park were ready to celebrate. Willie Mays was one of four players from the first Giants team to play in this city who took the field for the first pitch ceremony. Two members of the Grateful Dead performed the national anthem. Fans pumped their fists in unison as images of the foul-mouthed cast of the television show "Jersey Shore" were displayed on the video scoreboard.
Now, the fans will have to wait.
"We wanted to do it here for the home fans, but we've tortured them all year," Huff said.