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Blue Jays offence again a no-show as Rangers win 4-1 for two-game sweep

TORONTO - Yes, Roy Halladay's complete game gave the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen some much-appreciated rest and sure, Vicente Padilla was pretty tough Thursday night.


TORONTO - Yes, Roy Halladay's complete game gave the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen some much-appreciated rest and sure, Vicente Padilla was pretty tough Thursday night.

But there was little solace to be found for the home team in a 4-1 loss to the Texas Rangers, who came to the Rogers Centre and completed a sweep of the two-game mini-series.

An 0-2 start to a six-game homestand following a 4-1 road trip continued an early trend of wild swings in quality of play by the Blue Jays (8-8), who went 2-for-21 with runners in scoring position in the two losses versus the Rangers (7-9).

A fifth straight home loss also leaves them back at .500 in the standings, with several winnable games having slipped through their fingers.

"You're not going to win every game, we know that, but as the season goes on we've got to start pushing series like this," said a downbeat Halladay. "We have some tough games like these, we've got to be able to bounce back. I felt like the effort was there, but as a whole we didn't get everything done as we would have liked."

Executing at the plate has been their main issue so far.

A night after going 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position during Wednesday's 7-5, 14-inning marathon loss, when they matched a club record by using nine pitchers, they went through another anemic performance at the dish.

Although they put someone on in each of Padilla's seven innings, only three runners advanced past first base and just one came around to score, on David Eckstein's infield single in the seventh that made it 3-1.

Relievers Jamey Wright in the eighth and C.J. Wilson in the ninth for his fifth save wrapped things up as the Rangers gained some revenge before a crowd of 15,809 after dropping three straight to Toronto in Arlington last weekend.

"Everyone says it's only April but those games are going to be just as important as the ones in September," said first baseman Lyle Overbay, 0-for-2 with a walk. "It's just a matter of being consistent and getting the job done. We've had good at-bats but there are other ones where we haven't and we have to get rid of those."

The Blue Jays finished the night 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and are now batting .261 in those situations for the season. They generated surprisingly little from the 12 base runners they put on Thursday.

"We're getting some hits but we can't string anything together and push many runs across the plate," said manager John Gibbons. "And Padilla can be tough ... he knows what he's doing and those guys who got a good feel and can pick the plate apart have been the guys who have been giving us trouble all year."

Halladay (2-2) deserved a better fate.

The right-handed ace was never in big trouble but had the Rangers scratch out runs against him on David Murphy's RBI double in the second, Frank Catalanotto's run-scoring single in the third and RBI singles to Gerald Laird in the seventh and ninth.

He gave up 11 hits and a walk but was helped by three double plays. The only time the bullpen got working was in the bottom of the ninth, in case a rally sent the contest into extra innings.

"It's nice to be able to pick them up a little bit," Halladay said of his outing, but, "we lost. A couple of mistakes, a couple of balls that found the right spots. That's a tough combination in a close game."

Padilla (2-1) induced a pair of double plays to help himself out after allowing seven hits and three walks.

Things won't get any easier for the Blue Jays with the Detroit Tigers arriving for four games starting Friday night. Lefty David Purcey, the club's first-round pick in 2004, makes his big-league debut in place of A.J. Burnett against Jeremy Bonderman.

Burnett, who took the loss Wednesday after gamely coming out to pitch the 14th, will start Sunday, pushing Shaun Marcum and Jesse Litsch back a day. Dustin McGowan starts Saturday as scheduled.

Halladay is pleased with the effort his team has showed to this point of the season, but understand every game that slips away hurts their cause.

"We've all talked about (playing with a sense of urgency) and we're all well aware of it, which I think is a step in the right direction," said Halladay. "As things go on, we need to prove it a little bit."

Notes: The Blue Jays recalled Purcey from triple-A Syracuse and placed righty reliever Brian Wolfe on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right triceps. Purcey will start Friday against Detroit and is expected to be returned to the minors for a reliever afterwards. "I'm looking forward to helping any way I can," he said. ... The Rangers placed OF Marlon Byrd on the DL with an inflamed left knee and recalled 3B German Duran from triple-A Oklahoma. Duran went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. ... The Rangers were without SS Michael Young (right calf) and 3B Hank Blalock (sore back). Both are day-to-day.

 
 
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