The Marlins loaded the bases in the eighth and ninth innings, getting only one run out of those opportunities, and wound up losing to Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies 9-5 on Saturday night, a 4-hour, 3-minute marathon.
"What was it, 700 pitches between two teams?" Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen asked afterward.
Actually, only 386.
"A very boring, crazy game," Guillen said. "A long one."
But for Halladay, it was one worth enduring, since it sent him into the offseason as a winner.
Halladay survived a shaky opening inning before settling down in his final start of the season, Jimmy Rollins had three hits and scored three times, Chase Utley drove in three runs and Carlos Ruiz added a two-run double for the Phillies, who evened their record at 79-79 with four games left.
Halladay (11-8) allowed six hits and four runs, striking out seven and walking three in five innings.
"I guarantee this," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "When he comes back next spring, you're going to see a guy who's ready to go, and strong."
Giancarlo Stanton had three hits, including his 36th homer, and drove in three runs for Miami. The Marlins led 3-0 after an inning but lost for the 91st time—matching the most by the franchise in any season since 1999.
Ricky Nolasco (12-13) allowed nine
"After the second inning," Nolasco said, "I felt like I had already thrown six."
The Phillies said first baseman Ryan Howard will miss the remainder of the year with a broken right big toe, an injury suffered on Thursday when he dropped a metal pipe on his foot in the on-deck circle. The injury, which typically heals after a few weeks, is not expected to significantly impact Howard's offseason training program.
Halladay's win total will be his lowest since he went 8-8 for Toronto in 2004. His ERA of 4.49 is nearly double the mark of 2.35 from a year ago and well over the 2.98 he posted from 2001 through 2011. The 132 strikeouts match his fewest since 2006, and opponents have hit their highest average against him—.261—since 2007.
And Miami, which flailed at everything Halladay threw when he pitched a perfect game at the Marlins' former ballpark in 2010, wasted little time getting to him on Saturday.
"The first inning was obviously very sloppy," Halladay said. "But after that, I felt like it got better."
Bryan Petersen and Solano led off with singles, and Jose Reyes walked on four pitches to load the bases for Stanton. He tapped a two-run single to center, and Rob Brantly later brought Reyes home and put the Marlins up 3-0.
From there, other than Stanton hitting a solo homer in the third, the night was pretty much controlled by the Phillies.
Pete Orr's two-run double in the second got Philadelphia on the board, and the Phillies added three in the fifth—an inning where Halladay led off with a single. Utley's two-run single tied the game, and he scored the go-ahead run on Domonic Brown's triple to center.
Ruiz's double in the seventh pushed the lead to 7-4, and Utley's third RBI in the eighth gave the Phillies a four-run cushion.
Halladay missed nearly two months this season because of injury, and gave up seven runs in 1 2-3 innings in his last start, Sept. 22 against Atlanta—prompting concerns of bigger problems. But Halladay said he didn't have to persuade the Phillies to give him the ball once more in 2012.
"Regardless what the results have been, I feel like I kind of owe it to my teammates to keep going out there," Halladay said. "Chase continues to play and everybody else going out there and continuing to play, the last thing I'm going to do is not try and go out and pitch."
The Marlins got an RBI single from Gil Velazquez in the eighth, after loading the bases with none out. Pinch-hitter Austin Kearns went down on strikes for the second out; the pitch got away from Ruiz, who retrieved it and flipped to reliever Antonio Bastardo in time to easily catch Carlos Lee trying to score from third.
"We didn't get the right bounce," Lee said.
Lee popped up for the second out when the bases were loaded again in the ninth, and Jonathan Papelbon—not in a save situation—struck out Greg Dobbs to end the game.
Notes: Rollins hit a foul ball that drifted into the third-base seats in the seventh, and a fan tried to catch the pop-up with his popcorn bucket. Predictable hilarity followed—popcorn sailed everywhere. Rollins eventually reached and scored his 100th run of the season on Ruiz's double. ... LHP Cole Hamels (16-6) pitches for the Phillies on Sunday afternoon against Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-6). ... The Marlins have set their rotation for the final three games against the New York Mets: RHP Josh Johnson is scheduled to go on Monday, RHP Jacob Turner on Tuesday and LHP Mark Buehrle in the finale on Wednesday afternoon.