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Jays grind out another win

Jays grind out another win
Something has happened to Roy Halladay. Something created by the Toronto Blue Jays' sudden aversion to losing and, by extension, their infatuation with winning.

quot;Last year if he pitched eight innings and gave up a run in that eighth inning, he'd come into the dugout and he would be pretty angry,quot; Blue Jays catcher Rod Barajas said yesterday, after a 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. quot;Now, it just seems like he's able to put those runs behind him. If he makes a couple of mistakes, it's not that he's going to lose the game. Last year, we needed to give up three or less and if we didn't? Let's face it, we were in trouble.quot;

Blue Jays third baseman Scott Rolen's eighth-inning single scored Vernon Wells with the go-ahead run as the Blue Jays won their sixth consecutive series, in the process avoiding losing back-to-back games for the first time this season. The Blue Jays were shelled 10-2 on Saturday but staked their ace to a 2-0 first-inning lead in the rubber match of the three-game series and held on to win their first three road series of the year for the first time in club history.

Rolen's single, which came after Wells's leadoff double and a walk by Adam Lind, allowed manager Cito Gaston to take Halladay (4-1) out of the game knowing he'd get the win if the bullpen held it.

quot;If we had not scored a run I would have allowed him to go back out, but I would have had somebody up,quot; Gaston said. quot;Absolutely that run was big. It's a long season and we can't afford to lose another pitcher right now.quot;

The Blue Jays will open a four-game series in Kansas City tonight against the Royals and also expect to learn the results of an examination on the sore right forearm and elbow of pitcher Jesse Litsch, who is on the 15-day disabled list but left the team to be examined by Birmingham, Ala.,-based orthopedic specialist James Andrews. The appointment was made before tightness interrupted Litsch's throwing program on Saturday.

Halladay didn't exactly carve up the White Sox, giving up eight hits and three runs over seven innings en route to his first career victory at U.S. Cellular Field in six career games (five starts.) His 2-0 lead, built on Lind's two-run double in the first inning, evaporated when Paul Konerko hit a two-run single with two out in the third to give the White Sox the lead.

quot;I left some balls up,quot; said Halladay, who gave up hits to the first three batters he faced before retiring Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye and Konerko on 10 pitches. quot;Really, that's what I've been battling to this point. It's the same focus: I have to be down in the zone.

quot;It's nice to know if you stay in it and keep grinding you have a chance to get it back. That's something we didn't have last year.quot;

Halladay's cut fastball and sinker were especially troublesome. In the third inning the Blue Jays ace looked uncomfortable but, if anything, it was frustration with himself more than how the game was unfolding. Halladay is a human metronome on the mound. Knowing his team wouldn't consider a 3-2 disadvantage to be mortal makes it easy to regain his rhythm.

quot;You always try and stay with a pitch,quot; Halladay said.

quot;You don't search for it. You have to keep trusting in your pitches, and waiting for it to come back. But especially early in a game like that it's nice to know if you do make a mistake or two, you can cover it up later.quot;

The Blue Jays bullpen did not mess around with the lead. After Jason Frasor induced Carlos Quentin to ground out on a curveball, Jesse Carlson came in and retired Thome on a soft liner to Aaron Hill before striking out Dye on three pitches. Scott Downs pitched the ninth for his second save, needing just eight pitches.

Hill's first-inning single extended his hitting streak to 11 games, as every Blue Jays starter except Lyle Overbay had at least one hit. Barajas was 3-for-4 with a double while Brian Anderson had three of the White Sox's nine hits. Barajas scored the Blue Jays' third run when White Sox's starter Jose Contreras suffered a moment of indecision on a bouncer to the right of the mound, mishandling the ball before electing to throw out Marco Scutaro at first with Barajas bearing down on home plate.

quot;We've played hard in every game,quot; Halladay said, referring to the Blue Jays' ability to respond to losses. quot;There haven't been any freebies. I haven't felt like we've given games away.quot;


NOTES The Toronto Blue Jays will re-introduce themselves to John Gibbons, Cito Gaston's predecessor as manager, who is now the bench coach with the Kansas City Royals, when they play the first of a four-game series at the remodelled Kauffman Stadium tonight. The Blue Jays' record under Gaston since he replaced Gibbons on June 20, 2008 is 65-43, the best in the majors in that time. ... Tonight's Royals starter, Brian Bannister, threw six shutout innings against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday after losing out in a spring training battle to Horacio Ramirez and Sidney Ponson. ... The Blue Jays have 12 players with at least one homer. No other team in the majors has as many. ... Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill has hit in 19 of the team's first 20 games.

Next Tonight, at Kansas City Royals, 8:10 p.m. EDT

Probable pitchers Blue Jays LHP David Purcey (0-1, 6.10) v. RHP Brian Bannister (1-0, 0.00)

TV Rogers Sportsnet

Jeff Blair

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 27, 2009

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