TORONTO(AP) If this was
's final start for the
, he made it a good one.
Halladay pitched a six-hitter to win for the first time since June 7 and
drove in three runs, leading Toronto past the
Boston Red Sox
3-1 on Sunday.
''He's the best pitcher I've ever had the chance to catch,'' Barajas said.
Halladay (11-3) could also be the biggest prize available before the July 31 trade deadline.
general manager J.P. Ricciardi said this month he would field offers for the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner, who is signed
''I stand by what I said the other day,''
joked. ''They should have traded him the other day, and to a National League team.''
Pitching at home for the first time since Ricciardi's comments, Halladay turned in a vintage performance. He struck out six
and walked none, lowering his ERA to 2.73.
After addressing the trade speculation at last week's All-Star game, where he started for the American League, Halladay put
all the talk behind him as he focussed on the second half.
''As much as a circus as that was, it kind of allowed me to get back here and just kind of put it out of mind and get back
to my job,'' Halladay said. ''It's hard to do. You do hear those things, but you've got to do the best you can to put it out
of mind and focus on what you're doing.''
With 36,534 fans on their feet, Halladay tipped his cap to the crowd as he headed back to the dugout following the final out.
He insisted it wasn't a wave goodbye.
''You have to kind of live in the moment and that's all I'm trying to do,'' Halladay said. ''It has nothing to do with looking
down the road. It's just a matter of the fans were excited, they were cheering and that's all it was.''
Halladay retired his final 11 batters and threw 78 of 105 pitches for strikes in his 44th career complete game and fourth
''We're a team that, a lot of the time, works counts and takes pitches,'' Boston slugger
said. ''There's a few guys that's not really conducive for and (Halladay) is one of them. You look at his strike-to-ball ratio
and it's ridiculous. It's one of those things where you're not going to wait him out and work a walk.''
Halladay won for the first time in four starts since beating Kansas City on June 7. The right-hander improved to 1-2 since
coming off the disabled list June 28 after missing two turns with a sore groin.
''I felt location was better today,'' Halladay said. ''The first couple of times (off the disabled list) I was just having
a hard time getting in that rhythm. From about the fourth inning on I felt I was able to get ahead and work ahead.''
had two hits and Toronto took two of three from the AL East leaders to win its first series in six tries. The
have won just five of 18 overall.
Boston's lead in the AL East was trimmed to one game over the
New York Yankees
gave Boston a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly in the first inning but Barajas put the
in front with a two-out, two-run double in the second off left-hander
(8-7), snapping an 0-for-20 slump.
Barajas gave the
some insurance with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
Lester came in 2-0 against Toronto this season and had won five of his past six decisions. But he lost for the first time
since June 18, allowing three runs and five hits in seven innings. Pitching for the first time in nine days, he walked a season-high
four and struck out six.
''I was sharp at times and not so sharp at other times,'' Lester said. ''I had to shake off a little bit of rust and inconsistency
in certain innings and that was the ballgame.''
returned to Boston's lineup after missing two games with an illness. Toronto OF
(illness) missed his third straight game. ...
, out since June 21 with a strained shoulder, will be in Boston later this week to see team doctors. Matsuzaka is rehabbing
in Florida, where he is throwing up to 120 feet on flat ground. ... Toronto had not won a series since taking two of three
from Cincinnati from June 23-25.