TORONTO -- As he matures on the mound, Roy Halladay is turning into more of a strikeout pitcher.
Halladay struck out a career-high 14 to win his major league-leading ninth game, Alex Rios backed him with a home run and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-4 on Tuesday night.Now 32 and in his 12th major league season, Halladay said he's becoming "more crafty."
• Roy Halladay threw his second complete game of the season and 42nd of his career. Since Halladay's rookie year in 1998, that's the fourth-most in MLB. Only Randy Johnson (54), Curt Schilling (49) and Livan Hernandez (46) have more.
• Halladay struck out 14, becoming the third Toronto pitcher to throw a complete game and strike out 14-plus batters (Roger Clemens in 1997, '98 and Pat Hentgen in '94).
• The Angels have lost five of seven overall.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"We're doing different things now, kind of throwing everything to both sides which at times will give you a lot more takes and swings and misses," Halladay said. "That probably has more to do with it than anything."Stuff-wise I still feel good but being able to do different things and kind of change the way you pitch is essential if you're going to stay around a long time," Halladay added.Halladay (9-1) threw his second complete game of the season, allowing four runs, no walks and seven hits to win his sixth straight decision. Working on an extra day of rest, he threw a career-high 133 pitches."He was as good as we've seen a pitcher in years, on both sides of the plate with good movement," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.Angels outfielder Torii Hunter called Halladay "the best there is in the game right now" and said the man known as Doc lived up to his nickname."He was a doctor today," Hunter said. "You have got to give it to him. He had surgery on all of us."Halladay's 14 strikeouts were the most by a Blue Jays pitcher since Roger Clemens struck out 15 against Baltimore on Sept. 21, 1998.The right-hander, whose only defeat this season was an April 21 loss to Texas, moved ahead of Kansas City's Zack Greinke for the major league lead in wins.Halladay faced just one batter over the minimum through six innings but ran into trouble in the seventh, when Bobby Abreu and Vladimir Guerrero led off with singles. After Halladay loaded the bases with a four-pitch walk to Hunter, Kendry Morales followed with an RBI single. Guerrero scored on a wild pitch before Maicer Izturis and Mike Napoli both hit sacrifice flies."Then he just turned off the faucet again and finished the game," Scioscia said. "He does so many things well out there on mound and finished his own ball game. That was impressive."Angels left-hander Joe Saunders acknowledged feeling "tentative" about facing Halladay."No one says it, you just kind of get that feeling as a pitcher," Saunders said. "You know, 'I'm facing Roy Halladay today, if I give up a run I might lose.' It puts added pressure on me and added pressure on the team to do whatever they can and for me to do whatever I can."Jose Bautista gave Toronto a 1-0 lead with an RBI triple in the second, and the Blue Jays added two more in the third against Saunders (6-4). Rios led off with his seventh homer and, two outs later, Scott Rolen doubled and scored on Kevin Millar's single.The Blue Jays chased Saunders with a three-run sixth. Adam Lind singled, stole second and scored when Gary Matthews misplayed Scott Rolen's sharp single to left, with Rolen taking second on the play. Millar hit an RBI double, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Rod Barajas' single.Rich Thompson came on for Saunders and walked Bautista, but got out of it when Marco Scutaro flied out and Aaron Hill struck out.Saunders, who has lost three of his past four starts, allowed six runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked none and struck out four.Scutaro was hitless in four at-bats, ending his streak of seven straight multi-hit games.
Following the game, Toronto optioned RHP Brian Wolfe to Triple-A Las Vegas and promoted RHP Dirk Hayhurst from Triple-A. ... It was the seventh 10 strikeout game of Halladay's career. ... Angels RHP Kelvim Escobar (shoulder) pitched five innings for Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday and will throw a bullpen in Toronto on Wednesday. If that goes well, Escobar will start for the Angels in Detroit on Saturday, his first appearance since 2007.