Toronto (49-46) at Boston (55-38)

Light Rain Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 59° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Thu Jul 17, 2003
  • TV: RSN, NESN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Roy Halladay looks to become the major leagues’ first 14-game winner when the Toronto Blue Jays begin a crucial four-game series against the Boston Red Sox.

Halladay, named to the AL All-Star team, started the season 0-2 but has won his last 13 decisions, two short of the club record for consecutive decisions without a loss.

He concluded the first half of his season by allowing two runs and four hits in eight innings, striking out six and walking none in Toronto’s 10-3 win over the New York Yankees on Saturday.

Halladay became the first in the majors with 13 victories, and he hasn’t lost in 17 starts since April 15. The 26-year-old right-hander is the first Toronto pitcher to win 13 straight decisions since Roger Clemens won a club-record 15 in a row in 1998.

“It’s really not something I’ve looked back on, and maybe I won’t until the end of the season,” said Halladay, who didn’t pitch in the AL’s 7-6 All-Star win on Tuesday in Chicago.

Halladay’s win was the only victory for Toronto in its three-game series against New York. The Blue Jays moved within one game of the first-place Yankees on June 23, but ended the first half with 12 losses in 15 games to fall nine back of New York in the AL East.

Toronto is seven games behind Boston in the division and wild-card race, and opens the second half with a stretch of six straight road contests against Boston and New York.

“We’ve got a chance, and hopefully we can come back and finish strong,” Toronto starting pitcher Kelvim Escobar said.

Boston ended its first half with five wins in six games to cut New York’s lead in the division to two games. The 5-1 stretch also enabled the Red Sox to take a one-game advantage over the Oakland Athletics in the wild-card race.

The Red Sox have had a history of second-half collapses, including last season. Boston was 52-33 and two games back at the break in 2002, but went 41-36 in the second half to finish 10 1/2 games behind New York.

But with new players such as Bill Mueller, Todd Walker, Kevin Millar, David Ortiz and Byung-Hyun Kim, Boston manager Grady Little doesn’t see the 2003 club duplicating last season’s late struggles.

“It’s all about the players in that clubhouse, their makeup and their character,” Little said. “That’s the big difference. I can’t explain it any other way.

“You can see it in the way they respond to tough losses. You can see it in the way they respond to tight extra-inning wins. It’s the same. They come back the next day with the very same look on their face and getting ready for the game that day.”

On Wednesday, Toronto made a trade when it sent left fielder Shannon Stewart to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for right fielder Bobby Kielty.

Stewart was hitting .294 with 47 runs, seven homers and 35 RBIs as Toronto’s leadoff hitter. He missed almost a month earlier this season with a strained hamstring.

Kielty, a switch-hitter, had been sharing time in right field since the start of the 2002 season. He is hitting .252 with nine homers and 32 RBIs in 238 at-bats.

The Blue Jays and Red Sox conclude their season series with a two-game set in Boston Aug. 26-27.

STANDINGS: Blue Jays - 3rd place, 9 GB, AL East. Red Sox - 2nd place, 2 GB, AL East.

BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Halladay (13-2, 3.41 ERA). The right-hander is 1-0 with a 4.97 ERA in four starts against Boston this season.

RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Derek Lowe (10-3, 4.81 ERA). The right-hander is also on an unbeaten run, having gone 7-0 with a 3.91 ERA in his last 11 starts. Lowe, who hasn’t lost since May 11 at Minnesota, is 1-1 with a 6.61 ERA in three starts against Toronto in 2003.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Blue Jays - Carlos Delgado, .313 avg., 28 HRs, 97 RBIs and 76 runs; Kielty, 6 SBs. Red Sox - Mueller, .332 avg.; Manny Ramirez, 21 HRs and 69 RBIs; Nomar Garciaparra, 73 runs; Johnny Damon, 19 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Red Sox, 7-6.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Blue Jays - 1B Delgado and CF Wells each had a hit and RBI in the All-Star game. … RHP Halladay’s only two defeats this season are to the Yankees. … The Blue Jays have lost 10 of their last 14 games at Fenway Park. Red Sox - SS Garciaparra is hitting .396 with nine homers, 16 doubles, five triples and 36 RBIs in 39 home games. … LF Ramirez has 36 HRs and 90 RBIs in 117 games against Toronto. … RHP Lowe is 6-0 with a 2.65 ERA at Fenway this season, including a 7-2 win over the Blue Jays on April 19.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jays - 26-22 on the road; Red Sox - 28-12 at home.

INJURIES: Blue Jays - DH-INF Josh Phelps (back), 15-day DL; INF Dave Berg (fatigue), 15-day DL; RHP Cliff Politte (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Pete Walker (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Doug Creek (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob File (shoulder), 60-day DL. Red Sox - DH-OF Jeremy Giambi (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Casey Fossum (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Robert Person (hip), 15-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Halladay Tor vs. D. Lowe Tex
22-7 Record 17-7
3.25 ERA 4.47
204 K 110
32 BB 72
1.07 WHIP 1.42