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Utley's homer lifts Phils after Doc allows early runs

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Roy Halladay, whose struggles have attracted so much attention and caused so much concern this spring, tuned up for the regular season with his final spring start Thursday, allowing two runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings, as the Phillies beat the Blue Jays, 7-2, before a sellout crowd of 9,324 at Bright House Field.

Halladay, who turns 36 in two months, is scheduled to start the Phillies' second game of the season on April 3 against Atlanta, and threw 96 pitches in his final outing before that.

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Chase Utley put the Phillies on top, 3-2, with his fifth home run of the spring in the bottom of the sixth, and Laynce Nix hit a three-run homer as the Phillies tacked on four more runs in the eighth.

Halladay pitched a quick 1-2-3 first inning before he ran into trouble in the second, when he loaded the bases with one out after a pair of walks followed an Adam Lind double. But he struck out the next two batters -- Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio -- to escape unscathed.

"My cutter was probably as good today as it's been all year," he said. "They were all coming back."

The Blue Jays recorded four hits in the third, however, scoring on RBI singles by Edwin Encarnacion and Lind to take a 2-0 lead.

Halladay, who was expected to throw 85-90 pitches Thursday, struck out six Blue Jays and walked two. The right-hander allowed 12 runs on 22 hits and nine walks in his previous four starts.

"He threw some dandies," said pitching coach Rich Dubee."And his wind-up was much better today. But we've still got some work to do with the stretch."

Brandon Morrow was the more impressive starting pitcher, throwing seven innings and cruising through the Phillies lineup until Utley homered in the sixth.

Up next: The Phillies leave Clearwater and return to Citizens Bank Park on Friday, when they play the first of two On-Deck Series games against the Blue Jays in Philadelphia. Cliff Lee will make his final spring start in a 7:05 p.m. ET game that will be available for free on MLB.TV.

Jim Hawkins is a contributor to

Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay, Laynce Nix, Ben Revere, Chase Utley