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Oswalt now in a perfect spot

Phillies’ starter follows Halladay

New Phillie Roy Oswalt has never lost a game at Citizens Bank Park (9-0, 2.10 ERA). New Phillie Roy Oswalt has never lost a game at Citizens Bank Park (9-0, 2.10 ERA).
(Rob Carr/Associated Press)
By Rob Maaddi
Associated Press / October 8, 2010

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PHILADELPHIA — Top that.

Long before Roy Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels talked about Philadelphia’s three aces always trying to outdo each other.

Halladay set the bar high with a brilliant performance in the Phillies’ 4-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the NL Division series Wednesday.

Next up is Oswalt. He starts Game 2 tonight.

The only way for Oswalt to top Halladay would be to pitch a perfect game. Don Larsen has the only one in the postseason, throwing it for the New York Yankees against Brooklyn in the 1956 World Series.

Although Halladay is a leading candidate to win the NL Cy Young award, and now has a no-hitter to go with his perfect game this season, Oswalt was Philadelphia’s best pitcher down the stretch.

Acquired from Houston July 29, the three-time All-Star went 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 13 games with the Phillies. Oswalt was 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his last 10 starts. Halladay was 8-2 with a 3.10 ERA during that span. Hamels was pretty impressive, too. He was 5-3 with a 2.15 ERA.

“Any time you get involved with a group that you have here, as far as the atmosphere and the starting staff and the guys on the team, you come into the clubhouse and you just kind of expect to win,’’ Oswalt said. “You have so much talent one through eight in the lineup. You have a team that plays with the starting staff, and you have a real good mix of guys here. We try to pull for each other and push each other as much as possible.’’

Oswalt was part of another rotation that featured three aces when he pitched in Houston. The Astros had Oswalt, Roger Clemens, and Andy Pettitte from 2004-06. They won the NLCS in ’05 before getting swept by the Chicago White Sox in the World Series.

Oswalt has dominated the Reds throughout his career. He won his first 15 decisions, and is 23-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 34 games against Cincinnati. But the righthander hasn’t had much success lately, going 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his two starts this season.

Overall, Oswalt was 13-13 with a 2.76 ERA this year. He’s never lost a game at Citizens Bank Park, going 9-0 with a 2.10 ERA in 10 starts. He’s 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA in six home starts with the Phillies.

The Reds led the NL in batting average (.278), homers (188), and runs (790), but they haven’t scored in 30 innings against Philadelphia. The Phillies won consecutive 1-0 games to complete a four-game sweep before the All-Star break.

Bronson Arroyo, one of six Reds with previous postseason experience, will try to send the series back to Cincinnati even. Arroyo is 1-5 with a 5.54 ERA in eight games against Philadelphia. The righthander was 17-10 with a 3.88 ERA this year.

Arroyo played for Boston in 2004 when the Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees in the ALCS and went on to win the World Series. He’s pitched in a hostile atmosphere in the postseason, and won’t let the Philly fans bother him.

“I expect a very Yankee Stadium-esque environment, especially warming up in the bullpen,’’ Arroyo said. “I know these fans here are serious about the game. They’ve been touted for a long time, especially in the NFL, as some of the craziest in the game. So you prepare yourself mentally to deal with all the raw emotion and excitement that’s going on around.

“But I’ve always enjoyed it. I loved playing in the stadiums when guys are screaming obscenities about my mother.’’

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