Halladay holds Mariners to four hits, throws 10th career shutout

SEATTLE (AP) -- Even with five complete games already this season, Roy Halladay had a lingering feeling that a little piece of his pitching was lacking.

He found what was missing, at least on Monday night.

Halladay pitched his 10th career shutout, dominating the Seattle Mariners and limiting them to just four singles in Toronto's 2-0 win, the Blue Jays' third straight victory.

The performance was a quick turnaround for Halladay, who was battered for nine hits and a season-high five earned runs against Cincinnati last week. During his side session between starts, Halladay worked on his mechanics and found a groove with his pitches.

It carried over into Monday.

"We did a few things mechanically and I felt good with it and I felt a little more together," Halladay said. "Before I was kind of scrambling for those things."

Halladay knew it was going to be a good night when he was warming up in the bullpen. Manager Cito Gaston turned to his coaches in the early innings and stated that maybe just one run would be enough on this night.

Gaston was right.

"He's so locked into what he has to do and he hates giving up runs," Toronto catcher Rod Barajas said. "He's a guy who wants to go out every single time and throw a shutout."

Methodically controlling his pitch count, Halladay mowed through the Mariners lineup, allowing a pair of singles to Richie Sexson, and a hit each to Willie Bloomquist and Jeremy Reed. The only other Seattle batter to reach base against Toronto's ace was Ichiro Suzuki, who beat out a potential double play in the third and reached on an error in the sixth.

It was the seventh inning before a Seattle batter reached second base, and Halladay (9-6) won for the first time since June 8, throwing his sixth complete game of the season. His last complete-game shutout was June 22, 2007, an 8-0 three-hitter against the Mariners.

Halladay, the major league leader in innings pitched, struck out six and threw 115 pitches, 84 for strikes. He did not walk a batter and only two putouts were made by the Blue Jays outfield.

"It's nice when you go out and feel like everything is there and it's going to be one of those good ones," Halladay said.

Unlike that last shutout, Halladay didn't get much offensive help, but the Blue Jays had just enough clutch hitting against Mariners starter R.A. Dickey.

David Eckstein ripped a two-out double into the left-field corner in the fifth. Marco Scutaro, who hit the ball hard in his first two at-bats, then followed with a sharp single to center, easily scoring the speedy Eckstein from second.

In the sixth, Vernon Wells led off with a single and Scott Rolen added a one-out single, his third hit of the night. Rolen is 7-for-14 in his last four games. Lyle Overbay then walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases.

With a 1-1 count, Barajas tapped a slow grounder to shortstop and Bloomquist's only play was to first, allowing Wells to score for a 2-0 cushion.

That was more than enough for Halladay.

"I told the guys in the dugout, if we could just get a couple I thought [Halladay] could hold it for us," Gaston said.

The Mariners had a three-game win streak snapped, and got more bad news after the game when they placed their young ace, Felix Hernandez, on the 15-day disabled list as his sprained left ankle has been slow to recover.

Seattle's best chance at getting to Halladay came in the seventh, but the right-hander relied on the strikeout to escape the jam. Reed dumped a one-out single and brazenly advanced to third on Sexson's single into left, putting runners at the corners -- the first time Seattle had two base runners in an inning.

Halladay then calmly struck out rookie Jeff Clement looking -- for the third time -- and induced a slow grounder from Kenji Johjima to end the inning.

"That is the kind of pitcher you would call an 'ace," Suzuki said through an interpreter.

Dickey (2-4) was coming off seven shutout innings in an 11-0 win against the New York Mets last week, and his dancing knuckleball matched Halladay for the first four innings, before finding trouble in the fifth. Dickey allowed nine hits and struck out three, but is 1-3 as a starter.

Game notes
Seattle reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith will get the start on Tuesday against the Blue Jays in place of Hernandez. It will be Rowland-Smith's first start since pitching at Double-A San Antonio in 2006. ... Much of the crowd was filled with Blue Jays' fans driving down from British Columbia, many waving the Canadian flag. ... Sexson, maligned at home for his .220 batting average entering Monday, had his 11th multihit game of the season.