BOSTON (AP)—Roy Halladay returned from the All-Star break the way he entered it—with a blazing fastball, sharp control and a three-month unbeaten streak.
“It’s a nice number and after that it really doesn’t mean much,” he said of the streak. “If it ends, it ends. Fine.”
It shouldn’t end for a while if he keeps pitching the way he did Thursday. He struck out five, walked none and has allowed just one walk in 33 innings. He threw 116 pitches and fired a 94 mph fastball in the ninth.
“You pride yourself on going out and finishing it,” Halladay said after the seventh complete game of his career. “There’s something about the ninth inning and trying to close the game that’s tough.”
It seemed easy Thursday when he rebounded from a two-run seventh and retired the side in order in the eighth and ninth.
“Cy Young did a pretty good job against us out there,” Boston manager Grady Little said. “He is on quite a roll.”
“He seems to get better every year,” said Boston’s Trot Nixon, who had three hits off Halladay. “He’s throwing harder than in the past and he’s throwing his pitches for strikes.”
Halladay was 19-7 with a 2.93 ERA last season. This year, he leads the majors in wins and is unbeaten in 16 starts since losing to the New York Yankees on April 15. He was selected for Tuesday’s All-Star game but didn’t pitch.
Boston starter Derek Lowe (10-4) had been unbeaten in 11 starts since a loss at Minnesota on May 11, but he allowed four runs in four innings, throwing 92 pitches.
“It wasn’t very good. Rusty, like everybody,” Lowe said.
Three runs scored on Reed Johnson’s bases-loaded double in the fourth that made it 4-0. Bobby Kielty went 3-for-4 with a homer in his Toronto debut after being traded by Minnesota for Shannon Stewart on Wednesday.
“It’s nice to do something like that,” Kielty said. “But, let’s face it, baseball is an up-and-down game. I’m not going to do that every day.”
Kielty singled and scored in both the second and fourth, then hit his 10th homer of the season on the first pitch of the sixth against Casey Fossum.
Boston made it 5-2 in the seventh on David Ortiz’s 11th homer and Jason Varitek’s RBI single, leaving runners at first and third with two outs. Halladay got out of the jam when Johnny Damon flied out to center, and Toronto went on to win for the fourth time in 16 games.
“He’s a special pitcher,” Toronto manager Carlos Tosca said. “He probably prepares both physically and mentally as well as anybody that I’ve ever been around.”
Halladay allowed only two runners past first base in the first six innings. With Nixon on first in the third, Bill Mueller hit a grounder to shortstop Chris Woodward, whose wild throw got past first baseman Carlos Delgado for an error. Nixon tried to score from first but was thrown out by Delgado, and Mueller moved to second.
Lowe struggled in his first home loss this season in seven decisions.
Kielty led off the second with a single, moved to third on two groundouts and scored on Woodward’s double.
In the fourth, Toronto loaded the bases with no outs on singles by Greg Myers and Kielty and a walk to Eric Hinske. Lowe nearly got out of the jam, retiring Orlando Hudson and Woodward on called third strikes and getting ahead of Johnson 0-2. But after working the count to 3-2, Johnson doubled to left toscore three.
Fossum and DH Jeremy Giambi were activated from Boston’s disabled list before the game. … After Kielty’s homer, Hinske was hit in the back by Fossum’s pitch and went directly to first base. … Ortiz’s homer was the 20th allowed this season by Halladay. He gave up just 10 last year when he went 19-7 with a 2.93 ERA. … Halladay pitched at least seven innings for the ninthstraight start.