No longer dominant on the mound, Roy Halladay took comfort in a text message from his young son.
"He texted me to say I was his hero and that meant a lot," Halladay said, displaying a rare emotional side after another rough outing in Philadelphia's 7-2 loss to the New York Mets on Monday night. "It puts things in perspective."
Halladay (0-2) barely resembles the two-time Cy Young Award winner who had 40 wins and tossed a perfect game and postseason no-hitter in his first two years with the Phillies in 2010-11.
He allowed seven runs and six hits in four-plus innings and now has given up 12 runs in 7 1/3 innings in two starts after a tough spring. Halladay is coming off a down year in which he missed two months with shoulder and back problems, raising concerns about his health.
But Halladay said he feels fine and he could throw 200 pitches. He blamed his problems on trying too hard to make perfect pitches.
"Ninety-five percent is mental," Halladay said. "It's simplifying and getting back to basics and not trying to force things. I feel like at times when you're trying to find something, the more you're grasping for it, the worse it is."
While Halladay is trending downward, Matt Harvey is clearly on the rise. A 2010 first-round pick, Harvey simply blew away hitters.
Harvey threw seven impressive innings and John Buck hit a three-run homer to lead the Mets.
"A lot of things were working good for me," Harvey said. "I've been throwing strikes and have had good run support."
Harvey (2-0) followed up a dominant first start with another sharp outing. He gave up one run, three hits and struck out nine. The 24-year-old righty allowed one hit and fanned 10 in seven scoreless innings against San Diego last Wednesday.
"When you come to Philly, you're usually (fired up) higher than usual," Harvey said. "I tried to tone it down. When you face Doc, it's something special."
Halladay tossed a perfect first inning before his troubles began. Marlon Byrd ripped a one-out double to straightaway center in the second and Halladay hit Lucas Duda with a pitch. Buck followed with an opposite-field drive way out to right-center.
Buck has three homers and 12 RBIs in the first seven games, helping the Mets to a 5-2 start. New York has hit at least one homer in every game, its longest streak to start a season since eight in a row in 1987.
"Location and command was his problem," manager Charlie Manuel said of Halladay.
Duda lined an RBI single with two outs in the third to give the Mets a 4-0 lead. They chased Halladay with three straight hits in the fifth. Daniel Murphy started with a double, David Wright followed with an RBI single and Ike Davis singled to end Halladay's night.
Chad Durbin entered, retired two batters around a walk before allowing a two-run single by Ruben Tejada that made it 7-1.
Jimmy Rollins doubled and scored on Ryan Howard's sacrifice fly in the fourth. Rollins knocked in the other run on an RBI groundout off Josh Edgin.
The Phillies are off to a 2-5 start. They're hoping to return to the postseason after their run of five straight NL East titles ended with an 81-81 finish last year.
They've got a long way to go, however.
NOTES: A crowd of 35,393 was the third consecutive non-sellout at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies led the majors in attendance in each of the past two seasons. ... Phillies OF Delmon Young, who is rehabbing after ankle surgery, went 0 for 5 as the DH in an extended spring training game. He ran the bases after flying out in his final at-bat. ... C Carlos Ruiz caught six innings in that game, and threw out both runners who tried to steal second on him. He was 0 for 4 with two walks, a sacrifice fly and two RBIs. ... RHP Dillon Gee (0-1, 1.42) pitches for the Mets against Cliff Lee (1-0, 0.00) on Tuesday night.
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