Jays Slumping

Mired in their longest losing streak in more than five years, the Toronto Blue Jays would love to see ace Roy Halladay return to form.

Halladay will look to bounce back from a sub-par performance and help the Blue Jays shake an eight-game slide as they wrap up a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox on Thursday at Rogers Centre.

Oddsmakers have made Toronto -145 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 59% of bets for this game have been placed on Toronto -145 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Halladay (4-1, 3.59 ERA) was tagged for nine runs and a career high-tying 12 hits in 5 1-3 innings of Saturday's 11-4 loss in Texas. The right-hander, who won the 2003 AL Cy Young Award and finished third in voting for the honor last season, was coming off a complete-game, 6-1 win over the Rangers on April 30 and had lasted at least six innings and given up three or fewer runs in each of his first six starts.

The loss was the first since Aug. 31 for Halladay, who was denied his 100th win.

"You don't see that too often," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Sometimes you forget the guy's human. All that means is he's not going to go undefeated this season. We'll still take our chances every time he goes out there."

Halladay is 9-7 with a 4.46 ERA in 29 career appearances - including 26 starts - against the Red Sox, including 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA in two starts against them this season.

The Blue Jays (13-20) lost 9-3 to Boston on Wednesday and haven't won since Halladay's home win over Texas. Their losing streak is their longest losing since dropping nine straight April 24-May 3, 2002.

"This is about as low as it can get," said Lyle Overbay, who hit two homers Wednesday.

Alex Rios went 4-for-4 with a walk for Toronto, which has been outscored 64-27 during its slide - including 18-5 in the first two games of this series. Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Mike Lowell and Julio Lugo all homered Wednesday for the AL East-leading Red Sox (22-10), who have won six of their last seven.

Ortiz went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, and Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up one run in seven innings. First baseman Kevin Youkilis was a late scratch because of a sore left leg.

"When you get offense from all over the place, one through nine, that certainly helps," manager Terry Francona said.

Tim Wakefield (3-3, 2.11 ERA) will look to lead Boston to their first three-game series sweep at Toronto since July 8-10, 2003. He limited the Minnesota Twins to just three hits in seven innings of Friday's 2-0 win despite battling a cold.

"He was fantastic," Francona said. "And he's about 48 hours removed from a couple of IV bags."

The 40-year-old knuckleballer fought a rib cage injury last season and went 7-11 with a 4.63 ERA in only 23 starts, but owns the second-best ERA in the AL this year.

"This was one of those nights where I didn't have a lot of strikeouts, but I got outs when I needed to get outs," Wakefield told the Red Sox's official Web site. "I was fortunate in that when they hit the ball, they hit it at our guys."

Wakefield is 13-9 with a 3.86 ERA in 42 career appearances, including 32 starts, against the Blue Jays. He is 5-3 with a 4.51 ERA in 15 starts and 22 lifetime outings at Rogers Centre. Wakefield has faced Toronto twice this season, going 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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