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Halladay becomes first nine-game winner in majors as Jays defeat Angels 6-4

Roy Halladay uncharacteristically gave up four runs in one inning in his latest start. A rare blemish, but nothing his career-high 14 strikeouts couldn't fix.

TORONTO - Roy Halladay uncharacteristically gave up four runs in one inning in his latest start. A rare blemish, but nothing his career-high 14 strikeouts couldn't fix.

Halladay (9-1) became the major league's first nine-game winner as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday before a crowd of 26,809 at Rogers Centre.

Blue Jay right-fielder Alex Rios hit his seventh homer of the season to lead off the fourth inning and first baseman Kevin Millar drove in runs in the two-run fourth and the three-run sixth to build a 6-0 lead for Halladay.

Halladay was near perfect except for the seventh inning, where he gave up three of his seven hits plus his only walk and wild pitch. Combined with two sacrifice flies, that allowed the Angels to score four runs and narrow the Jays' lead to two runs..

"It was just one of those innings where you find yourself behind and you're making some borderline pitches and you follow with some bad pitches," Halladay said.

"You just get yourself in a hole. But I tried to keep the same approach the whole game. The big thing was just getting ahead."

Halladay didn't allow anything more over the final two innings, other than a ninth-inning single, and struck out five more to surpass his career high of 11 that he achieved on Sept. 19, 2001, against the Baltimore Orioles.

Left-hander Joe Saunders (6-4) allowed nine hits and six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings to take the loss.

Halladay's strikeouts came with all of his pitches as he worked both sides of the plate with his sinker and cutter and worked in a curveball that gave him about half of his strikeouts.

"To a lot of guys the pitches that are coming in they look like balls and I'm sure they go and look at the videos and the pitches aren't exactly where they thought they were going to end up," said Blue Jay catcher Rod Barajas, who had two hits and a run batted in. "He's got so much late movement, late life. What he's able to do with that baseball it's like playing a video game for me.

"You put that target down and away or you put that target in and you know the man's going to execute his pitches. He's some kind of special."

Halladay made 133 pitches, 88 of them strikes and manager Cito Gaston, who tries to watch the number of pitches his ace makes each start, checked the right-hander before sending him back out for the ninth.

"He told me he was fine, he was feeling strong," Gaston said.

He said that most pitchers wouldn't have survived the four-run inning and come back so strong.

"He might get his rhythm off here and there but he gets it back and pitches well," Gaston said. "Most guys wouldn't have got out of that inning probably with four runs.

"But great pitchers just seem to find a way to get out of it, or reach back and get a little bit more, and make better pitches and get themselves out of it. That's what he did."

The Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead when Jose Bautista's one-out triple in the third followed Barajas's single, Toronto's first hit of the game. Rios made it 2-0 when he hit a homer on a 1-1 fastball to lead off the fourth.

The Blue Jays scored another run in the fourth on Millar's single that followed Scott Rolen's two-out double.

Saunders departed in the three-run sixth after allowing Barajas's run-scoring single. It was preceded by Adam Lind's one-out single and his steal of second, Rolen's single to left and an error by Gary Matthews Jr., a wild pitch and Millar's run-scoring double.

NOTES: Right-handed starter Jesse Litsch who has been on the disabled list since April 14 with a right elbow strain continues to alternate between good days and bad days but medical examinations reveal nothing that could be causing the discomfort. Blue Jays' general manager J.P. Ricciardi said Litsch will continue with his throwing program that is scheduled to include pitching in extended spring training.

 
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