That came on Oct. 7, 2011, when aces Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay clashed in an epic Game 5 of the National League Division Series. Carpenter's Cardinals outlasted Halladay's Phillies, 1-0, to capture the series on their way to the World Series title.
About 10 months later, it's Halladay who coincidentally will take the mound for Philadelphia against Kyle Lohse, the pitcher he defeated in Game 1 of that NLDS at Citizens Bank Park.
Lohse has enjoyed the better 2012, soaring to the NL's best winning percentage, while Halladay has struggled through an injury-marred campaign. And while St. Louis is fighting for another playoff berth, the Phillies are fighting to stay out of last in the NL East.
Lohse (12-2, 2.79 ERA) has been particularly strong over his past 12 outings, racking up 11 quality starts, a 2.32 ERA and a .226 opponents' batting average. He won his sixth straight decision Sunday, holding the Brewers to four hits in six scoreless innings.
"I feel like it's a continuation of what I did last year," Lohse said. "I know I had a rough middle part of the season [in 2011], but if you look at the season as a whole, I felt like I did a good job. This year is building off of that. I have an idea of what I'm trying to do out there and I'm just going out to try and execute it."
Halladay (5-6, 4.02) left a start against the Cardinals on May 27 after giving up four runs in two innings and didn't come back from the disabled list until July 17. On Saturday against the D-backs, he authored his best performance in four games since his return and picked up his first victory since May 17.
Halladay tossed seven scoreless frames, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out five. He hadn't pitched without allowing a run since Opening Day.
"Each time, I've felt better. I've still got a little ways to go mechanically and in consistency," Halladay said. "Unfortunately, it's a little bit of the Spring Training type of thing, but I feel strong. I feel good.
"As long as the movement's there and I feel like I can beat guys with it at times, that's the important thing. I'm trying not to get too caught up in the whole velocity thing. For me, if I can see the movement and the swings I'm getting off the barrel, that's what's important to me. And I feel like the last two starts, that's been a little better."
Cardinals: Greene trade opens middle-infield spot
St. Louis dealt infielder Tyler Greene to Houston before Thursday's game, for a player to be named or cash considerations. That left the Cardinals with 24 active players for their series finale against the Giants.
A 25th man will join the team in Philadelphia, and that player almost certainly will be a middle infielder. Greene's departure left the club with three players to fill those two spots, and Rafael Furcal and Skip Schumaker both are fighting injuries, though Furcal started Thursday.
General manager John Mozeliak said Thursday that Greene's replacement "most likely" would come from within the organization. Pete Kozma, who has minimal Major League experience, is the only middle infielder at Triple-A Memphis who already is on the 40-man roster. The Cardinals also could bring up Ryan Jackson from Memphis for his big league debut.
Phillies: Howard powering up
First baseman Ryan Howard connected on his second big home run in as many games Wednesday against the Braves, with his three-run shot pulling the Phillies even in the fifth inning. A day earlier, Howard smacked a two-run blast in a 3-0 win, prompting manager Charlie Manuel to express confidence in his former NL MVP.
"He's coming," Manuel said. "He's very capable of finding his swing. He'll keep working."
Despite a 2-for-4 effort Wednesday, Howard is hitting .213 with a .738 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in 26 games this season. He's coming back from a left Achilles injury he suffered while making the last out of the 2011 NLDS.
The Phillies took three of four games from the Cardinals in May at Busch Stadium. This will be their last meeting of the season.
This series accounts for St. Louis' only road contests during a 19-game stretch. The Cardinals are 27-28 away from Busch this year.
Former Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal will be inducted into the team's Wall of Fame during a ceremony prior to Friday's game. Lieberthal, who was named to two NL All-Star teams and won a Gold Glove, is the Phillies' all-time leader in games caught as well as home runs and hits by a catcher.