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Halladay deflects much of credit to catcher

Halladay deflects much of credit to catcher

MIAMI -- Carlos Ruiz was the player Roy Halladay first hugged on the field, the only one he pointed to when he walked into the clubhouse, and the one he constantly praised to the media after etching his name in baseball history.

It was Halladay who became the 20th pitcher in Major League history to record a perfect game on Saturday night, but the Phillies' ace credited his defense, tipped his cap to Jamie Moyer and had plenty of nice things to say about Ruiz.

"I can't say enough about the job that Ruiz did tonight," Halladay said. "It's as much of a big deal for him as it is for me."

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After getting Ronny Paulino to ground out to third base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Halladay finally cracked a smile, then opened up his arms to absorb a warm embrace from Ruiz, who was with him for each of his 115 pitches on this magical night.

Then, when he walked back to the Phillies' clubhouse and his teammates waited for words to come out of his mouth, Halladay simply pointed at his catcher, as if it were Ruiz who deserved most of the credit for the ace joining exclusive company.

"That was great," Ruiz said. "I was so happy. ... I had no words."

But Ruiz had plenty of words for his mother in Panama -- whom he called right after the game -- and his brother, Sammy -- whom he stayed up with until late at night in his hotel room, reminiscing on what had just happened at Sun Life Stadium.

Ruiz said he didn't really notice anything special before Halladay's special start, but the two ended up having incredible chemistry. The only time Halladay shook him off was in the third inning, when Ruiz called for a curveball on opposing pitcher Josh Johnson, and Halladay opted to blow a fastball by him instead.

Besides that, Doc and the man they call "Chooch" were in perfect harmony.

"I think 'Chooch' really deserves a lot of credit," said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who added that the club will do something special to honor Halladay at Citizens Bank Park, but has yet to work out the details. "I know Roy gave 'Chooch' a lot of credit, but for them to be able to work together like that, it's pretty special."

It was Amaro who made the bold move this offseason by pulling off an intricate blockbuster deal that landed Halladay in Philadelphia -- with a three-year, $60 million extension to go along with it -- and jettisoned Cliff Lee to Seattle in December.

Through the rest of that offseason, Spring Training and the early part of the 2010 campaign, most of the talk in Philadelphia centered on a Phillies rotation with both Halladay and Lee that seemingly existed.

But at least for one night, Lee's name never came to mind when talking about Halladay. The only word that did was "perfect."

"Other than winning the World Series in '08 -- other than that last pitch that [Brad] Lidge threw that year -- this was the most amazing moment I've ever seen in the game of baseball, for me," said Amaro, who took in the moment with his half-brother, also named Ruben, and superstitiously decided not to move from his lower-level seat as early as the fifth inning.

"It's cool. But the fact of the matter is Roy is one of the best pitchers in the game. Just like many of those guys who have this kind of talent, any given day, that can fire one off like that."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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