Halladay's first attempt for his 100th career win unraveled in shockingly abrupt fashion. The Blue Jays ace matched the second-worst start of his career by allowing nine earned runs in a stunning 11-4 loss before 27,421 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"You don't see that too often," Jays manager John Gibbons shrewdly observed.
No, you don't. Halladay came into the game unbeaten, having allowed just 12 earned runs in his first six starts to take a gleaming 4-0 record and 2.28 ERA to the Arlington mound.
His opponent, Rangers right-hander Vicente Padilla, was winless (0-4, 5.66 after six starts). He hadn't won a game since the Rangers bestowed a three-year, $33.75 million contract on him last winter.
It shaped up as the mismatch the Jays needed after losing the first four games of their six-game road trip. And when Frank Thomas doubled home a first-inning run and Halladay retired the first seven hitters he faced, it looked like the milestone win was on its way.
Then, as Halladay somberly recalled, "It just got out of hand so fast."
The Rangers sent 11 men to the plate in a six-run third, the biggest inning against Halladay in more than five years. He last gave up that many in one inning on April 25, 2002, when he suffered through a seven-run fifth during an 11-9 loss, also to the Rangers, and also in Arlington.
"I don't know that it's this park," said Halladay, whose team has lost 15 of its last 18 in Texas. "If anything, it has more to do with the guys in their lineup. If they get hot, it's a tough team to face."
And the Rangers (12-18) did get hot. They strung together five consecutive one-out hits in the third, the biggest a two-run double by Michael Young that skipped just under the glove of third baseman Troy Glaus. Kenny Lofton, Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock and Brad Wilkerson also drove in runs during the six-run, eight-hit inning.
"I didn't make pitches, that was pretty obvious," said Halladay, who hadn't lost since last Aug. 31. "If you don't execute, that's going to happen. You're never caught off-guard. You know what adjustments you need to make. I just wasn't able to do it."
"It was a combination of us swinging at better pitches, and he left a few more pitches up in the zone tonight," said Teixeira, the Rangers first baseman who has four hits and four RBI so far in the series.
It may not have been Halladay's most painful experience on the Arlington mound -- there was that previous seven-run inning -- but it was close. It was also here that Halladay took a line drive off the bat of former Ranger Kevin Mench in July 2005, ending his season with a broken tibia.
"Something like this, you've just got to learn from it," Halladay said.
Halladay later allowed three of the first four hitters he faced to reach base in the sixth. Josh Towers came on to give up a two-run double to Teixeira, and those inherited runners scored to make it nine earned runs charged to Halladay.
Halladay gave up a career-high 11 earned runs to the Angels on April 29, 1999, in his eighth big-league start. The only other time he allowed this many was when he surrendered nine earned runs in an 11-2 loss to Oakland on April 25, 2000.
"It shows the guy's human," Gibbons said. "They just got some big hits tonight. But all that means is that he's not going to go undefeated this season. We'll still take our chances with him every time out."
The Jays managed two runs (one earned) on six hits in Padilla's seven innings, then added a two-run homer in the ninth by Lyle Overbay off of reliever Ron Mahay. They have been outscored 18-5 in the first two games of this series, and 43-20 on the five-game trip that began with three losses in Cleveland.
Their seventh loss in nine games dropped the Jays (13-17) alone into last place in the American League East. Right-hander A.J. Burnett (2-2) goes to the mound Sunday as the Jays try to avoid what would be the second winless six-game road trip in franchise history.
Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.