Toronto righthander breaks Clemens' team record


TORONTO (AP) -- Not even The Rocket won this many starts in a row for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Roy Halladay won his ninth straight start, breaking Roger Clemens' team record and pitching Toronto past the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-5 Wednesday night.

"I don't plan on stopping," said Halladay, who sounds like a young Clemens.

Halladay (9-2) allowed one run on eight hits in eight innings. He struck out nine and walked one.

"I feel good right now. It's easy to feel good when your team is scoring 10 runs every time you pitch," Halladay said.

The 26-year-old right-hander, who opened the season winless in his first six starts, hasn't lost since April 15 against the Yankees -- a span of 12 starts.

Clemens, who won two Cy Young awards in his two years in Toronto, set the team record by winning eight straight starts in 1997.

"For him, it was a matter of determination," said Halladay, who was a teammate of Clemens' in September 1998. "He started off the year somewhat poorly and decided he was going to go out and do it. That's the type of pitcher he is. When he decides something, there's not anybody that's going to stop him. That's something you try to take from a guy like that."

Carlos Delgado hit his AL-leading 21st homer for the Blue Jays, who have won three straight. Delgado leads the majors with 72 RBIs.

"Roy has been unbelievable for us," Delgado said. "Roger Clemens is a really good pitcher, but Roy is coming into his own. He had a phenomenal year last year, and the last 10 starts for him have been amazing. We rely on him to carry us, and he's doing that and more."

Orlando Hudson and Chris Woodward hit back-to-back homers and Reed Johnson connected later as Toronto sent the Pirates to their fourth straight loss.

Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon raved about Halladay.

"He had really good stuff. When he gets the lead, he's even tougher," McClendon said. "I thought his sinker was outstanding."

A crowd of 32,036, the fourth-largest of the season, turned out at SkyDome after the Blue Jays offered $2 tickets in an effort to show that Toronto remains vibrant despite the SARS scare.

Pittsburgh's Aramis Ramirez extended his career-high hitting streak to 22 games with a single in the first. Brian Giles homered and drove in four runs, three on a ninth-inning homer.

Hudson went 3-for-3 with a walk. Delgado hit a sacrifice fly in the first.

Hudson and Woodward homered off Jeff D'Amico (4-7) in the second, the second straight night the Blue Jays have hit back-to-back homers. Hudson and Josh Phelps hit consecutive home runs off Kris Benson on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh's Jason Kendall tripled and scored on Giles' grounder in the third. Kendall went 3-for-3 with two walks.

Woodward hit an RBI double in the fourth, and Johnson homered in the fifth. The Pirates have allowed 17 home runs in the last four games.

Hudson hit an RBI single, and Phelps scored on Woodward's run-scoring double play, giving Toronto a 7-1 lead.

D'Amico allowed a season-high seven runs on nine hits in five-plus innings.

Delgado homered off Mike Williams in the eighth.

Game notes
Pittsburgh has lost seven of eight, falling to a season-low 12 games below .500. … Pirates leadoff man Kenny Lofton missed the game with a bruised left big toe. Lofton fouled a pitch off his toe Tuesday. … Halladay has pitched six innings or more in each of his last 14 starts. … The Blue Jays recalled right-handers Corey Thurman and Mike Smith from Triple-A Syracuse after the game. Toronto manager Carlos Tosca said they would announce more roster moves Thursday.