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Morrow impresses over seven innings despite loss

Morrow impresses over seven innings despite loss

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Roy Halladay, whose struggles have attracted so much attention and caused so much concern this spring, tuned up for the regular season with his final spring start Thursday, allowing two runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings, as the Phillies beat the Blue Jays, 7-2, before a sellout crowd of 9,324 at Bright House Field.

Halladay, who turns 36 in two months, is scheduled to start the Phillies' second game of the season on April 3 against Atlanta, and threw 97 pitches in his final outing before that.

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Chase Utley put the Phillies on top, 3-2, with his fifth home run of the spring in the bottom of the sixth, and Laynce Nix hit a three-run homer as the Phillies tacked on four more runs in the eighth.

Halladay pitched a quick 1-2-3 first inning before he ran into trouble in the second, when he loaded the bases with one out after a pair of walks followed an Adam Lind double. But he struck out the next two batters -- Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio -- to escape unscathed.

The Blue Jays recorded four hits in the third, however, scoring on RBI singles by Edwin Encarnacion and Lind to take a 2-0 lead. Encarnacion went 1-for-3 with a nice play in the field in his first Grapefruit League game back from a strained right finger, suffered in his final at-bat for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

Halladay, who was expected to throw 85-90 pitches Thursday, struck out six Blue Jays and walked two.

The right-hander allowed 12 runs on 22 hits and nine walks in his previous four starts.

Brandon Morrow was the more impressive starting pitcher, throwing seven innings and cruising through the Phillies lineup until Utley homered in the sixth.

Up next: Left-hander Mark Buehrle will make his final spring start when the Blue Jays visit Philadelphia on Friday in a 7:05 p.m. ET game available for free on MLB.TV. This marks the first leg of a two-game On-Deck Series at Citizens Bank Park as both teams make their final preparations for the start of the season.

Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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