Blue Jays 6, Devil Rays 2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Roy Halladay looks like a contender for the Cy Young Award again.
Halladay (7-1) allowed two runs and five hits. He is 6-0 in nine starts since being sidelined by right forearm tightness in early April.
“Winning games are more important that anything else,” Halladay said.
Halladay, who won the AL Cy Young in 2003, struck out one. He hasn’t walked a batter in his last 23 2-3 innings.
“I hope we miss him next time,” Tampa Bay’s Julio Lugo said. “He’s in a Cy Young mode. Throwing everything for strikes. Throwing hard. Changing speeds.”
Toronto scored three runs in the seventh inning to take a 4-2 lead. Pinch-hitter Frank Catalanotto had an RBI double, and Alex Rios and Vernon Wells hit run-scoring singles off reliever Travis Harper. Harper replaced starter Mark Hendrickson (3-6), who departed with two on and one out.
“This year we know that we’re going to score runs and there isn’t a team out there that can keep us from scoring runs,” Catalanotto said. “It’s nice to be on a team like that. The offense never quits.”
Catalanotto had another RBI double in the ninth as Toronto pushed across two more runs to take a 6-2 lead. The Blue Jays are hitting .303 as a team this season.
Hendrickson gave up three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out four and walked two.
Halladay and Hendrickson have faced each other three times since May 13, with Halladay winning each matchup.
“He’s probably the best pitcher in the American League, if not all of baseball,” Hendrickson said. “It’s tough. He’s been on all the times he’s faced us, and when he is, it’s difficult to get runs and get wins.”
Hendrickson has given up 10 runs in 19 1-3 innings in the three starts against Halladay. The Toronto right-hander allowed four runs in 25 2-3 innings.
“He’s Robo-pitcher,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said of Halladay. “You know what he’s going to throw. You know what to expect. And you still can’t hit it. He’s exceptional because he’s so simple and he repeats what he does over and over again.”
Halladay was able to take advantage of an aggressive Devil Rays offense, throwing only 84 pitches.
“I enjoy facing a team like that where I can get an out on one, two or three pitches,” Halladay said. “It gives me a chance to be a lot more aggressive.”
B.J. Ryan got the final out for his 13th save in 14 opportunities for the Blue Jays, who have won eight of 11. Toronto (31-23) is eight games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 28, 2003.
Ty Wigginton’s two-out solo drive in the sixth gave Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead. It was his fifth homer in his last 37 games after starting the season by going deep eight times in 16 games.
The Devil Rays (22-34) have lost 10 of 12 to drop a season-worst 12 games under .500.
Shea Hillenbrand also hit his ninth homer for Toronto.
Tampa Bay was without left fielder Carl Crawford, who missed his second consecutive game with left knee stiffness.
“He’s still a little sore,” Maddon said. “Maybe one more day will do the trick.”
Wells returned after missing two games with a left shoulder injury. He went 2-for-5 with a double. … Toronto C Bengie Molina was in the lineup for the first time since getting hit by a pitch on Tuesday. … The Devil Rays have hit 67 homers, their most ever after 56 games. … Hillenbrand has homered in consecutive games. … Harper has allowed 11 runs and 16 hits over nine innings in his last seven appearances. … The Devil Rays’ bullpen has given up 12 runs in six innings the past two games.