Rangers come out swinging, take set

Rangers come out swinging, take set

TORONTO -- When the Rangers faced the Blue Jays last Saturday in Arlington, Toronto ace Roy Halladay was dominant in a complete-game victory over Texas. The Rangers could only muster six hits and one run in the loss.

So before the Rangers even started Thursday's game against the Blue Jays, it looked as though they were going to be at a disadvantage. Halladay was on the mound again for Toronto, and regular shortstop Michael Young and third baseman Hank Blalock were held out of the lineup because of minor injuries. In addition, the Rangers bullpen was taxed, having used six relievers in a 14-inning win the night before.

The onus fell on Texas starter Vicente Padilla to not only eat up some needed innings but to quiet the Blue Jays offense, which had scored 22 runs in four games against the Rangers this year. In his last start against Toronto, Padilla yielded four earned runs over six innings, taking the loss.

With his team needing a strong performance, Padilla provided just that, holding the Jays to one run over seven innings as Texas defeated Toronto, 4-1. The Rangers won both games of the two-game series and head to Boston on a high note.

"He was awesome," said Frank Catalanotto of Padilla. "He went right after the hitters. That's what I like about him -- he challenges hitters right out of the gate. We really needed that from him tonight, especially going against [Halladay].

"Those guys [in the bullpen] needed some rest, and Padilla got them that."

In his seven innings, Padilla allowed seven hits while striking out two and walking three. Even more telling of his performance, however, was that he did not allow a Toronto player to get past second base until the seventh inning, when Gregg Zaun doubled and then advanced to third on a fielder's choice. Zaun would later score on an infield single by David Eckstein, but Toronto would score no more.

"[Padilla] was just mixing it up," said Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay. "He started throwing a lot of curveballs. He's a ground-ball pitcher, and he got the ground balls when he needed them to keep him out of trouble."

Missing two of its best hitters, Young and Blalock, the Rangers offense fared well against Halladay, collecting 11 hits over nine innings. They opened the scoring in the second inning when outfielder David Murphy smacked a line drive to left field that plated Milton Bradley. It was the first of three doubles in the game for Murphy, who now leads all American League rookies with six this season.

"Murphy's a gamer," manager Ron Washington said. "[If] you throw the ball over the plate, he's going to get a hack at it, and he usually centers it. You can't say enough about what Murphy's done."

Murphy believed that the team benefited from seeing Halladay twice in the same week.

"I think it helps when you've seen a guy recently," said Murphy. "You can make adjustments. I think guys were just able to make adjustments and knew how [Halladay] was going to come after us."

In the third inning, the Rangers continued to put pressure on Halladay when Ian Kinsler singled and stole second base. Catalanotto followed with a single to center field that cashed in Kinsler. The Rangers added a third run in the seventh inning when catcher Gerald Laird lined a broken-bat single to left field that scored Murphy to give Texas a three-run lead.

Despite the timely hitting, for Washington the only difference between last Saturday's game and Thursday's was pitching.

"What changed was every time Halladay put up a zero, we put up a zero," he said. "We just matched his zeros."

David Singh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.