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Dodger Loss Is Complete

Baseball: Blue Jays' Halladay goes the distance in 2-1 victory. Ashby effort is wasted.

June 19, 2002|BILL SHAIKIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the home of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Fernando Valenzuela, Roy Halladay pitched the way the old-timers did--and Carlos Tosca managed the way the old-timers did.

The Toronto Blue Jays led the Dodgers by one run Tuesday, with one inning to go. But, in this era of the closer, the Blue Jays' closer never even warmed up. Halladay breezed through the ninth inning, completing a four-hitter and a 2-1 victory that dropped the Dodgers two games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West.

"I don't remember a better game being pitched against us," Dodger center fielder Dave Roberts said. "He had his cut fastball working. His sinker was incredible. He threw his curves for strikes whenever he wanted. When he throws like that, there's nothing you can do."

Halladay, who threw a two-hitter at the Colorado Rockies 12 days ago, dispatched the Dodgers on 99 pitches. He struck out seven and walked two, and the only run he gave up was unearned. His fastball was 93 mph in the first inning and in the ninth inning.

Conventional wisdom tells the manager to bring in his closer to protect a one-run lead in the ninth. The Blue Jays have a pretty good closer in Kelvim Escobar, but Halladay is by far their best pitcher.

"I had no thoughts of lifting him," Tosca said. "Nobody was getting any comfortable swings against him. I didn't see any difference in his stuff. He had a low pitch count."

Halladay, 8-3 and likely to be the Blue Jays' representative in the All-Star game, said he threw about 80% fastballs, and almost all fastballs early in the game.

"The pitch count is down, you go aggressively after the hitters," Dodger Manager Jim Tracy said, "and guess what? You're still standing out there in the ninth inning."

In his first game against his old team, Shawn Green singled home the Dodgers' lone run, an unearned run in the eighth inning. But Halladay breezed through the ninth--Eric Karros lined out, Mark Grudzielanek struck out and Adrian Beltre popped up.

Of the 27 outs, Halladay got 13 on ground balls.

Dodger starter Andy Ashby (6-6) was splendid in defeat. He has pitched into the eighth inning in each of his four starts this month, and he did so again Tuesday. He gave up two runs over eight innings, walking two and striking out five and lowering his earned-run average to 2.82.

In seven starts at Dodger Stadium, his ERA is 1.69, but his record is 3-3.

The Blue Jays featured a few stars in the middle of their lineup, but they wouldn't have scored without the contributions of the anonymous men at the top and bottom of the batting order.

With one out in the second inning, Ashby walked Jose Cruz Jr. After Cruz stole second base, Joe Lawrence singled him to third, and Ken Huckaby singled him home, and Toronto led, 1-0.

Ashby retired the next 10 hitters, with only one managing to hit the ball out of the infield. But the Dodgers could do little against Halladay, and the Blue Jays finally nicked Ashby for another run in the sixth inning.

Felipe Lopez, the shortstop the Blue Jays opted to keep when they traded Cesar Izturis to the Dodgers, singled to start the sixth. Eric Hinske, the talented rookie third baseman obtained from Oakland for closer Billy Koch, walked.

Although Shannon Stewart grounded into a double play, Carlos Delgado followed with a double, scoring Lopez and giving Toronto a 2-0 lead.

The game marked the return of Raul Mondesi to Dodger Stadium, although he did nothing special to commemorate the occasion. He went hitless in four at-bats, failing to get the ball out of the infield.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

*--* NL WEST W L GB Arizona 43 26 -- Dodgers 41 28 2

*--*

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