He made manager Charlie Manuel's decision about what to do with Philadelphia's crowded rotation even tougher.
Happ stated his case to keep his spot with a career-high 10 strikeouts in his second shutout of the season, leading the Phillies to a 7-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night.
"I don't think one start should affect the situation," Happ said.
No, but 14 of them and Happ's top 10 ranking in the National League in ERA is a strong argument. He four-hit the Rockies and was throwing in the low 90s in the ninth inning.
Manuel never wavered in letting the rookie left-hander go the distance.
"He earned the right to go out there," Manuel said. "That's how I look at it."
But has he earned the right to keep his spot?
His competition was pitching 65 miles away in a rehab start for Double-A Reading -- three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez. The 37-year-old right-hander struck out 11 in six innings against the New York Yankees' Trenton affiliate.
If Phillies officials are convinced Martinez can start in the major leagues, he likely would send Happ (8-2) to the bullpen.
Manuel says it's still too early to talk about what the rotation will look like once Martinez joins the Phillies.
"Let me answer that later on," he said. "I don't feel like getting into that."
Happ or Martinez. Martinez or Happ. It almost doesn't matter who is pitching for the NL East leaders when they're swinging the bat like they did against Jorge De La Rosa (9-8).
Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz all homered for Philadelphia. De La Rosa allowed seven runs in only five innings to end his personal seven-game winning streak, tying the longest active streak in the NL. He lost for the first time since June 16, ending a 7-for-7 stretch that set the franchise record for most consecutive starts with a win.
De La Rosa also took a one-hopper off his left arm in the fourth inning. He needed a visit with the trainer and a few warmup tosses before he resumed pitching.
By then, the Phillies were already ahead 4-0 and Happ was on his way to a shutout that lowered his ERA to 2.74.
"I felt like I was capable of doing it," Happ said. "You never know if it's going to happen."
Ryan Howard singled in a run in the first and the Phillies added three more in the second. Feliz hit a solo homer to left, his seventh, and Rollins extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a two-run shot, continuing his torrid stretch since ending an 0-for-28 drought.
Werth, an NL All-Star, hit an opposite-field, three-run shot in the fifth for his 23rd homer.
Happ, who earned his first shutout June 27 at Toronto, got a standing ovation as he left the mound after the eighth. He heard his loudest cheers of the night when he doubled to deep center in the bottom half.
"There comes a point in time when it's necessary to tip your hat to the other side," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Happ pitched one of the best games we've seen all year."
His outing puts the Phillies in a tough situation.
Reigning AL Cy Young Award Cliff Lee makes his home debut for the Phillies on Thursday. World Series MVP Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton also have locked up spots. The Phillies don't see 46-year-old Jamie Moyer as a legitimate option out of the bullpen. Moyer leads the Phillies with 10 wins, but has a whopping 5.55 ERA.
That means it could be last call for Happ, who made 13 relief appearances earlier this season.
"He's got the stuff to stay in the rotation," Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz said.
- Phillies RHP Brett Myers (hip) is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Thursday in Clearwater, Fla. Myers is hopeful of a late-season return. "If he can pitch like I know he can, he's going to help us," Manuel said.
- Phillies 2B Chase Utley was hit by a pitch for the 100th time in his career.
- Happ's double was his first career extra-base hit.
- Werth has a career high 69 RBI.