PHILADELPHIA -- Forget about matching Don Larsen or Johnny Vander Meer. Roy Halladay was more interested in winning a game than setting a record.
In the end, he did neither.
Halladay surrendered a pair of Cody Ross home runs in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday, the first of which dashed his bid to match Larsen's record of 36 consecutive hitless postseason at-bats and Vander Meer's long-held distinction of working consecutive no-hitters.
The Giants scored four runs against Halladay, who was coming off his NL Division Series no-hitter against the Reds, and also scored a 4-3 win that qualified as something of a stunning start to the NLCS. Stunning in that Halladay surrendered a run, something he hadn't done in 20 innings stretching back to his final start in the regular season, and absorbed a loss, something he had done only once in 14 starts between July 18 against the Cubs and Saturday.
"I mean, he's going to give up some runs sometimes," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Can he pitch better than that against them? Yeah, of course he can. But tonight, you know, they hit some balls good on him."
Halladay put it even more simply.
"I made too many mistakes and it ended up costing me," he said.
Not through the first two-plus innings on Saturday, when Halladay continued to make postseason pitching look easy. He retired the first seven Giants batters he faced on 22 pitches, 16 of them strikes. Then came Ross, who hammered Halladay's 25th pitch -- a fastball, down in the strike zone but on the inner part of the plate -- into the left-field seats.
The blast snapped Halladay's streak of consecutive hitless postseason at-bats at 34. The record remained property of Yankees right-hander Larsen, who worked 36 consecutive hitless at-bats from 1956-57.
Larsen logged the first two at-bats of that streak in Game 2 of the '56 World Series against the Dodgers and continued it in Game 5 with the only perfect game in postseason history. He kept it alive the following season, working seven consecutive hitless at-bats in relief of Bob Turley in Game 3 of the '57 Series against the Milwaukee Braves.
The consecutive no-hitter feat, meanwhile, remains Vander Meer's, who did it for the Reds in 1938.
"This guy, he's obviously one of the best in the game," said Ross of Halladay, and he would know. Ross played for the Marlins when Halladay threw a perfect game in Miami in late May.
"He's got the potential to go out there and do that every night he pitches," Ross said. "But, fortunately, we got to him a little early and Timmy [Lincecum, the Giants' starter] threw outstanding and pitched well enough to get the win tonight. Just a big win for us tonight. Coming in here, first game against their horse, and taking the first one was a good feeling for us."
Halladay struck out the two hitters who followed Ross' first home run, but labored throughout the rest of a seven-inning outing. San Francisco poked a pair of singles in the fourth inning before Halladay escaped. Ross homered again in the fifth on another fastball. The Giants tacked on two more runs in the sixth with three consecutive hits, after a very close pitch against former Phillie Pat Burrell didn't go Halladay's way.
Roy Halladay's stats from his Game 1 NLDS no-hitter vs. the Reds on Oct. 6 and Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday
That two-out 0-2 pitch was down in the zone, but Halladay was so sure it was strike three that he took a couple of steps toward the dugout. Not so fast, said plate umpire Derryl Cousins, who worked all night with a small strike zone.
"Yeah, I did [think it was a strike]," Halladay said. "But that's part of it. There were obviously calls that they wanted, too. It's part of the game. If you don't get a pitch, you have to make a pitch on the next one."
Burrell hammered the next pitch to left field and Raul Ibanez couldn't make a play. It went as an RBI double, and Juan Uribe followed with a run-scoring single up the middle that made it 4-1.
"He's different than anybody I've ever faced before," said Giants rookie Buster Posey, who started the sixth-inning rally with a two-out single. "Just the movement, for me, it was as advertised. You want to face those guys. It's a challenge. It was a fun game."
When Halladay was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh, he had allowed four earned runs on eight hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts. It was not exactly uncharted territory; Halladay surrendered at least four earned runs eight times in his 33 regular-season starts, and he surrendered at least eight hits 14 times.
It remains to be seen when Halladay will get another shot at the Giants. Manuel has not announced his pitching rotation beyond Game 3, and dismissed a question on Saturday night about whether he'd consider bringing back Halladay in Game 4 on Wednesday on three days' rest.
Now the Phillies face some uncharted territory. They had won seven consecutive postseason Game 1s before Saturday, starting with Game 1 of the '08 NL Division Series against the Brewers.
"It's a part of baseball," Halladay said. "We've got to win four. So you move on. That's the bottom line."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.