For some, it looked like just another ho-hum gem from Roy Halladay. For eight innings against the defending World Series champion Cardinals, Halladay pitched a two-hitter with no walks and eight strikeouts. The result, a 3-1 victory, was a given.

We have seen this before.

But after the game in the Phillies' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, Halladay's outing was viewed from a different perspective. Sure, it was the ace's second straight stellar outing in his return from a latissimus dorsi injury, but it was oh so much more to Halladay's teammates.

It was a signal that now is not the time to give up.

"I think with him coming back and pitching healthy, it makes a world of a difference. Anytime you're going out there and you're fighting against your body, I don't care who you are, it's tough to pitch," closer Jonathan Papelbon said. "For me, I see that certain look in his face, too, it's a good feeling."

To Papelbon, the message was if Halladay is still fighting, then there are no excuses for any other member of the Phillies. After all, Halladay could very easily have shut it down this season with the Phillies struggling in the standings of the NL East. He could have gone home to Florida, rested and rehabbed his injury and come back to spring training next February as strong as ever.

But then that wouldn't be Halladay's style.

"He got ahead and got them to chase balls out of the strike zone," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He was still feeling good at the end."

Halladay needed just 99 pitches to get through his eight innings. After Carlos Beltran hit a home run to lead off the second inning, Halladay gave up just one more hit and retired 21 of the final 23 hitters he faced. Better yet, Halladay was able to buzz through the Cardinals' lineup that leads the National League in runs scored and batting average.