Rays sweep Blue Jays

The Tampa Bay Rays offer a simple explanation for their success against Roy Halladay.

Toronto Blue Jay Roy Halladay lost 3-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays despite seven strong innings of work.

Rays 3 Blue Jays 2

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays offer a simple explanation for their success against Roy Halladay.

Some pretty good pitching of their own.

“In order to beat Roy Halladay, you have to pitch well, period,” manager Joe Maddon said Thursday after the AL champions beat the Toronto ace 3-2, their second victory over the five-time all-star in 11 days.

“There’s no secret. You don’t beat him up, you don’t hit a bunch of homers, you don’t get a lot of hits. There’s not a lot of things you can do against him,” Maddon added. “He only permits so much to happen.”

Rookie left-hander David Price pitched six strong innings, and Carlos Pena snapped a fifth-inning tie with a two-run double to help Tampa Bay complete a three-game sweep.

Probably because of Price and Halladay, no home runs were hit at Tropicana Field for the first time this season. It had been the only park in the majors with a homer in each game.

Price (3-3), rebounding from the shortest start of his career, allowed one run and six hits in six innings. The 23-year-old was rocked for six runs in 1 1-3 innings of a loss at Texas last weekend.

The No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft called his outing against the Rangers embarrassing. To get back on track, Maddon urged Price to follow his instincts against the Blue Jays.

“We always talk about pitching to your strength first and not to the hitter’s weakness,” the manager said. “I just want David to go out there and pitch. Just work his game plan.”

Like every team, the Rays compile lots of data on opposing batters and share it with pitchers before games.

Maddon asked pitching coach Jim Hickey to not go over the reports with Price.

“We have so much information, and it’s good. It’s good to utilize it and we do utilize it,” he said. “But there are certain moments when you really want to walk away from it and just permit your instincts” to take over.

Halladay (10-3) pitched for the first time since Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he’s willing to listen to trade offers for the five-time all-star. He allowed three runs and nine hits in seven innings.

The right-hander responded earlier this week to Ricciardi’s comments by saying he wants to keep pitching in Toronto but is willing to consider accepting a trade. He said the situation was not a distraction against the Rays.

“I addressed that once, and that’s all I’m going to do until I have to,” Halladay said. “It’s nothing that I can control, and I’m not going to worry about it.”

The game was delayed for 20 minutes in the middle of the seventh when lightning struck a power substation near the ballpark and dimmed lighting inside the stadium, which has a permanent roof.

Toronto’s Scott Rolen, who has a career-best 25-game hitting streak, did not play. The Blue Jays normally rest him when they play a day game following a night game.

Grant Balfour bailed the Rays out of a tight spot in the seventh, retiring Kevin Millar and Vernon Wells with the bases loaded to hold on to the 3-2 lead. Dan Wheeler worked the ninth for his first save.

The Rays, who entered the series on a four-game losing streak after being swept at Texas, have won eight straight at home.

“It’s good to come home and look and play like ourselves again,” Maddon said.

Halladay has won more games than any pitcher in the major leagues since 2002. The Rays have had his number lately, though, going 5-3 against the two-time 20-game winner over the last two-plus seasons. The only other AL team with a winning record against Halladay during that stretch is Boston (5-4).

“You can only see a guy so many times before you pick up tendencies,” Tampa Bay’s B.J. Upton said. “That really helped us tonight.”

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