The ace of the Toronto's pitching staff endured his second consecutive rough outing as the Jays dropped their third in a row to the Red Sox, this time by a score of 8-0 on Thursday night. Halladay (4-2) surrendered eight runs on 11 hits over five innings of work. The veteran right-hander has now surrendered 17 earned runs over his last 10 1/3 innings -- the worst streak of his career.
Center fielder Vernon Wells thinks Halladay's struggles are just a sign of how contagious the Jays' slump has become.
"I think we are just starting to rub off on him, unfortunately," Wells said. "Whenever there has been a losing streak, he's been the guy who would end that streak. I think it just shows the way things are going right now -- even he's going through it. It's something we're all going to learn from and hopefully get better, once this thing is over with."
After scoring one run in the first inning, Boston exploded for six runs off of Halladay in the third to bust the game wide open. The final blow came from Mike Lowell, who hit a three-run shot into the left-field seats. It was the Red Sox third baseman's seventh home run of the season and his third of the series. All of the runs were scored with two outs. Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis thinks the Red Sox (23-10) were the beneficiaries of some good at-bats, because those types of rallies don't happen very often against a pitcher the caliber of Halladay.
"He's great at stopping rallies. Today we were very fortunate to have that two-out rally that never stopped," Youkilis said. "He was throwing his pitches. He had his sinker going and the cutter and the curveball. ... Tonight we had some really good at-bats and that hurt him a little bit."
The Jays (13-21) have now lost nine games in a row, which is their longest losing streak since dropping nine straight games from April 24-May 3, 2002. They are now only three losses away from tying the team record of 12, set in 1981. Halladay thinks everyone on the team needs to stop worrying about the slump and just concentrate on the job at hand.
"I understand my job and I think a lot of guys in here are pressing right now, including myself," Halladay said. "But it can't be the focus. These things take on a life of their own and you got to focus on your job. I just didn't do that."
The loss marked the first time Toronto was swept by Boston since Aug. 16-18, 2004, at Fenway Park. The Jays were outscored by a total of 26-5 in the series and have been outscored by an average of 8-3 over their last nine games.
It's not like the Jays haven't had opportunities to break out of their funk. Toronto had a chance in the first inning to take an early lead when it loaded the bases with just one out against Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield. In a continuation of their recent woes, though, Frank Thomas struck out swinging and third baseman Troy Glaus was caught napping at first base, where he was picked off by Red Sox catcher Doug Mirabelli to end the inning. From there on out, Wakefield (4-3) was dominant. Boston's knuckleballer retired 16 batters in a row during a stretch that started in the first inning and lasted until the seventh. Wakefield hasn't surrendered a run in his last 16 1/3 innings.
"[The first inning] was an opportunity to score some runs early and get the lead back," Wells said. "After that Wakefield just did his job and did what he did to us the last time he was here. We just weren't able to get anything started after that."
Halladay's usually the one who has dominating stuff. His velocity appeared to be down throughout the game, though, which led to questions about his health.
"I'm healthy now. I'm just not making pitches -- that's the bottom line," Halladay said. "If you don't make quality pitches and you don't make them effectively, you're not going to get guys out."
As for Jays manager John Gibbons? Well, after his team was swept for the third straight series, Halladay's performance on Thursday night wasn't something he said he'd spend a lot of time thinking about.
"Truthfully, at this point, Doc's the least of my worries," he said.
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.