Blue Jays 3, Devil Rays 1

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Roy Halladay was at a complete loss to explain how it felt to be a 20-game winner.

“I can’t tell you yet,” he said. “It’s hard to tell after just happening. Maybe it’s something that really sinks in in the offseason. But I enjoyed it.”

Halladay became the first 20-game winner in the majors this season, pitching a five-hitter that led the Toronto Blue Jays over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 3-1 Thursday.

Halladay (20-6) has seven complete games this year, including his past three starts. He beat the New York Yankees 8-1 on Sept. 1 and then had a 10-inning, 1-0 shutout five days later over Detroit.

“He’s amazing,” Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca said. “If there’s a better pitcher out there right now, we haven’t seen him. He’s the whole package.”

Roger Clemens was the last Blue Jays’ pitcher with three consecutive complete games, doing it in August 1998.

“He’s as good a pitcher as there is in the league. There’s no question about it,” Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said.

The 26-year-old righty’s career-high streak of 23 scoreless innings ended when Tampa Bay scored an unearned run in the sixth.

“I’ve been real happy with the fact that we’ve been able to go out and continue to make good pitches and not try and do too much,” Halladay said.

Halladay struck out three, walked two and needed only 93 pitches to win. He is the Toronto’s first 20-game winner since David Wells went 20-8 in 2000.

Halladay went 19-7 last season. He made his major league debut in 1998 with Toronto and, after struggles left him back in Class A in 2001, has bounced back to become an ace.

“Another thing that I’ve been noticing lately is, as his reputation grows and grows, it seems the opposing pitcher wants to try and match him pitch for pitch,” Tosca said. “I think they take their game up to another level, which makes it even more incredible the things that he does.”

Two of Tampa Bay’s hits were bunt singles. Another came on an infield single.

“He’s above average every pitch and he knows what to do with it,” Devil Rays designated hitter Al Martin said.

Greg Myers homered for the Blue Jays, who are 40-35 on the road. Toronto is the majors only team with a winning road mark and a losing record (34-37) at home.

Jeremi Gonzalez (6-9) allowed three runs and six hits over 7 1-3 innings. He has lost four straight starts.

Myers put the Blue Jays ahead 1-0 with a second-inning home run. He has four hits—including two homers—in eight at-bats against Gonzalez.

Carlos Delgado made it 2-0 on a sacrifice fly in the third. He leads the majors with 126 RBIs.

Aubrey Huff got the Devil Rays within 2-1 on a sixth-inning sacrifice fly.

Antonio Perez reached on third baseman Eric Hinske’s error and went to third on Carl Crawford’s single.

Crawford, the AL stolen base leader with 48, was thrown out by Blue Jays catcher Kevin Cash attempting to steal second. It was the ninth time Crawford has thrown out this season.

“That was a big play,” Halladay said.

After Damian Rolls walked, Huff drove in his 98th run with his fly ball to center. Halladay then induced an inning-ending grounder from Travis Lee.

The Blue Jays took a 3-1 lead on pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty’s sacrifice flyin the eighth.


The names of those killed in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, were shown on the scoreboard during batting practice. … Major General Victor E. Renuart Jr., the director of operations at U.S. Central Command located at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Halladay has 39 wins since the start of the 2002 season. It’s the most in the majors. … The game took two hours, three minutes. That is the fastest game ever at Tropicana Field. … Gonzalez hit Blue Jays CF Vernon Wells in the third and Delgado in the sixth with a pitch. The Devil Rays lead the majors with 83 hit batters. Tampa Bay set the major league record with 94 last year. … Crawford matched a career-high with a 10-game hitting streak. … Toronto RF Reed Johnson singled in the fifth and has a career-high nine-game hittingstreak.

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