ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Roy Halladay demonstrated why he just picked up his fourth All-Star invitation.
Halladay (11-2) scattered six hits in a dominant performance two days after he was one of five Blue Jays named to the American League All-Star team. He struck out four and walked two while winning his third straight start.
“That was as strong as I’ve seen him all year,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “That’s been a tough team on him and it’s a tough place to pitch.”
Halladay began the night with a 3-4 record and 6.40 ERA in 13 career appearances against Texas. The last time he pitched in Arlington was last July 8, and he sustained a fractured left tibia on a batted ball by Texas’ Kevin Mench, ending Halladay’s season.
“I didn’t think about last year,” Halladay said. “I never put a lot of stock in thinking about coming back here.”
Halladay was able to consistently get ahead of the Rangers.
“I was throwing strikes, trying to make pitches,” Halladay said.
All-Star B.J. Ryan struggled to record four outs for his 23rd save in 24 chances to finish off a rare Blue Jays win over the Rangers.
He gave up an RBI single to Ian Kinsler in the ninth inning to make it 3-1. With two outs Rod Barajas struck out, but the ball got past catcher Bengie Molina on a wild pitch to allow Mark DeRosa to score and Barajas to reach first following an 11-pitch at bat.
Ryan, whose streak of 18 1-3 scoreless innings ended, got Gary Matthews Jr. to fly out with the tying run on third base to end the game.
“He found a way to get it done,” Halladay said of Ryan. “It shows a lot about him. He had maybe not his best stuff but he was able to have a tough inning and still get out of it.”
The Blue Jays had lost 15 of their previous 18 meetings with Texas, 10 of 12 in Arlington.
Halladay prevailed over Rangers rookie left-hander John Koronka, who allowed three runs and six hits in eight innings.
Koronka (6-5) had a difficult assignment against an offense that began the night leading the majors in batting average (.297), slugging percentage (.485), hits and total bases and had a major league-high .316 batting average against left-handers.
“It’s a tough lineup,” Koronka said. “You can’t just pitch away. You’ve got to work in and out against them.”
The Blue Jays picked up a game in the AL East on the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, both of whom lost earlier Tuesday. Toronto trails division-leading Boston by four games and is virtually tied with the second-place Yankees.
For the second straight night, the Blue Jays had problems with a finesse left-hander. On Monday night, John Rheinecker allowed one run and five hits in seven innings of a 6-1 Texas victory.
Koronka was perfect over the first four innings, getting nine outs on fly balls over that span before Shea Hillenbrand collected Toronto’s first hit with a one-out single in the fifth.
Hillenbrand went to second on a wild pitch, then tried to score on Aaron Hill’s single. But Rangers left fielder Jerry Hairston Jr.’s throw to the plate was perfect, and catcher Barajas was waiting with the ball for an easy tag on Hillenbrand.
Toronto broke through in the sixth to take a 2-0 lead on Adams’ one-out homer and Frank Catalanotto’s RBI single.
Meanwhile, Halladay allowed three hits during the first five innings, including a single by Michael Young in the fourth, Young’s 1,000th major league hit.
“Halladay wasn’t just picking on us,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball.”
Hinske’s leadoff homer in the eighth stretched Toronto’s lead to 3-0.
Rain delayed the game’s first pitch for one hour and 38 minutes. …Halladay’s 11 victories ties him with Tom Glavine of the New York Mets for the major league lead. …Young reached 1,000 hits faster than any player in Rangers history, accomplishing the feat in 827 games. Buddy Bell reached the milestone in 869 games. …Texas RHP Wes Littleton made his major league debut in the ninth.