Halladay completes Blue Jays’ ‘sweep’ of Orioles
Halladay scattered seven hits over seven innings Thursday in a 7-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles after the Toronto bullpen nailed down a 5-1 victory in a game suspended one night earlier.
Halladay (12-7) allowed one run, struck out six and walked one. The right-hander took over the major league lead in innings pitched (159 1-3) and lowered his ERA to 2.82.
“He’s probably the best in the league,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “He makes pitches when he has to and he’s got command of both sides of the plate. He’s exceptional.”
Halladay improved to 18-4 lifetime against the Orioles, who fell a season-worst five games under .500 (48-53).
Adam Lind and Marco Scutaro each had three hits and scored twice for the Blue Jays, who won three of four from Baltimore after losing their previous seven series on the road. Toronto (51-51) went 4-3 on a swing that began in Tampa Bay and reached .500 for the first time since June 14.
“Something we’ve been trying to do since I got here was get to .500 and we have managed to do it,” said manager Cito Gaston, now 16-12 since taking over for the fired John Gibbons on June 21. “Things didn’t start out too good on this road trip but it turned out pretty good.”
Seven Blue Jays had hits, five players scored and the bullpen was perfect after Halladay departed.
“Everybody contributed. Doc did a great job and guys got hits with runners in scoring position and we played great defense,” Gaston said. “That’s what happens when you play as a team.”
Even Gregg Zaun snapped an 0-for-19 skid with a two-run single.
“I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve had a hit,” the catcher said. “It was nice to finally get one to drop out there.”
The suspended game was halted by rain in the sixth inning Wednesday night after A.J. Burnett (11-9) allowed one run in five innings. Jesse Carlson started the sixth and got four straight outs, Shawn Camp retired the only two batters he faced to end the seventh and Scott Downs finished with two innings of two-hit ball.
“Let’s thank the bullpen,” Burnett said. “They came out and finished out what I started from the get-go.”
After watching his team score one run in 13 innings against Halladay and five relievers, Trembley summed up the lost afternoon in one succinct sentence: “I would say in the first game that their bullpen was exceptional, and then in the second game Halladay was outstanding.”
The regularly scheduled game also featured another poor outing by Baltimore starter Daniel Cabrera (6-6), lifted in the sixth inning after giving up a season-high seven earned runs and 11 hits. Cabrera is 1-5 in 12 starts since May 20.
“It looked like everything I can throw out there they can hit it like they know it’s coming. It’s tough,” the right-hander said. “It’s not mechanics. I think it’s the location or maybe my pitch selection.”
Bad pitches high in the strike zone didn’t help.
“It looked like he just didn’t have it today,” Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. “To me it looked like he was under some pitches, which means he was bringing the ball up. That’s tough to do, especially with a real aggressive club.”
After a wild pitch by Cabrera and an RBI single by Lyle Overbay made it 2-0 in the third, Brad Wilkerson hit a run-scoring single in the fourth. Overbay added a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and a two-run single by Zaun chased Cabrera during a three-run sixth.
Baltimore got its lone run in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly by Luke Scott, but the Orioles went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. If his pitch count didn’t reach 119, Halladay probably would have coasted to his eighth complete game.
“Location-wise, I wasn’t as good getting ahead of the count and I cost myself a couple of pitches, but Zaun did a good job,” Halladay said. “He called a good game and we made some good pitches when we had to.”
Overbay singled in the tiebreaking run earlier in the inning, shortly before the rain came.
The loss was Guthrie’s first in seven starts since June 12. The right-hander was 3-0 in that span.
A throwing error by Baltimore first baseman Kevin Millar provided Toronto with three unearned runs in the eighth.
Burnett improved to 7-1 against Baltimore. … It was Toronto’s first suspended game since May 1996, when a curfew halted a game against Boston. The Orioles still have a suspended game to complete from earlier this season, in Chicago. … Baltimore has scored 11 runs in Guthrie’s eight losses.