Philadelphia Manager Charlie Manuel never considered taking the ball out of Roy Halladay's hand Monday. Which is probably a good thing since it's unlikely Halladay would have given it up.
After waiting 13 big league seasons to play for a winner, Halladay wasn't about to watch his team clinch a pennant from the bench. He dominated Washington, 8-0, with a two-hitter to give the Phillies their fourth consecutive National League East title.
"I wanted him out there," Manuel said. "I felt like he earned it. And he deserved it."
A chance to pitch in October is why Halladay waived his no-trade clause in December, allowing Toronto to trade him to Philadelphia. Only three active players have been around longer than Halladay without reaching the postseason, and the right-hander made sure he wouldn't be denied this time. He notched his 21st win, ninth complete game and fourth shutout, all tops in the majors.
"That's the reason you want to come to a team like this. They know how to do it," Halladay, a bottle of champagne in his hands, said in the clubhouse victory party. "It's the coolest thing I've been a part of."
Halladay and the Phillies must wait for the rest of a muddled postseason picture to clear up before learning who they play next.
In the NL West, idle San Francisco added to its lead when San Diego lost to Chicago, 1-0, after pinch-hitter Nick Hundley flew out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Giants lead the division by one game with six to play and the Padres are half a game back in the wild-card race after Atlanta beat Florida, 2-1, in 11 innings.
The St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox each staved off elimination, living to fight at least one more day. St. Louis, which would be out in the NL Central with another loss or a Cincinnati victory, scored four times in its last three at-bats to rally past Pittsburgh, 6-4. Boston, whose flickering American League postseason hopes depend on it winning and the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays losing, was helped when all three things happened Monday.
The Red Sox got a strong eight-inning effort from Clay Buchholz (17-7) to beat the Chicago White Sox, 6-1; Baltimore rookie Brian Matusz and two relievers beat Tampa Bay, 4-0, and Toronto pinned a 7-5 loss on the Yankees and A.J. Burnett (10-15).
Burnett, who has won only one of his last eight decisions, gave up seven runs in 2 1/3 innings.
The Rays still lead the Yankees by half a game in the AL East and New York leads the wild-card race by 5 1/2 games over Boston.
Baxter reported from Los Angeles.