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Mariners shut down by Halladay

Mariners shut down by Halladay

SEATTLE -- The Mariners' bats took care of an ace pitcher on Sunday in San Diego, touching up 2007 National League Cy Young Winner Jake Peavy and racking up a season-high 18 hits to sweep the series.

Replicating the noteworthy feat? That proved too much to ask on a warm Monday night in Seattle.

Those previously hot Mariners bats were absent all game against the Blue Jays, silenced by ace Roy Halladay in a dominating four-hit, 2-0 shutout in front of 30,179 at Safeco Field.

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"Roy was Roy today. He was pretty good," Mariners center fielder Jeremy Reed said, understated.

The game's plot was very simple. Seattle starter R.A. Dickey was good, and Halladay masterful.

For every inning Dickey worked out of a jam or retired the Jays with a runner on base, his counterpart was usually breezing through a 1-2-3 frame. For every time Dickey slipped up, Halladay recorded the inning-ending strikeout. When Dickey was using up pitches on his way to 116 in 6 1/3 innings, Halladay conserved his energy and threw all nine innings in 115.

Make no mistake, Dickey controlled the Blue Jays with dancing knuckleballs and occasional fastballs, hitting 63 mph one pitch and 87 mph on others. He gave up just two runs in 6 1/3 innings -- a performance manager Jim Riggleman labeled as "great."

But he wasn't perfect, which was what the Mariners needed on Monday to have a chance against the former Cy Young winner Halladay, who threw his 37th career complete game and is well on his way to another ruthlessly effective, inning-eating season.

For while the Blue Jays slapped at Dickey's fluttering offerings with occasional success, the Mariners formed something of a percussion-oriented melody, rhythmically beating one ball after another into the finely manicured Safeco Field infield, interrupted by the occasional single or a strikeout. They ended the game with 16 groundouts.

"He's got both, cutter and sinker moving both ways, and for me I really couldn't tell where it was until halfway," Reed said. "Pretty tough when he's throwing 95 and 92 with the other one."

With cheers going up on nearly every play thanks to the well-represented Blue Jays fan base, the first four innings sailed along without incident.

But with two outs in top of the fifth, Dickey was the first to slip up by allowing a two-out double to David Eckstein followed by a Marco Scutaro single that gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. A Rod Barajas bases-loaded groundout in the sixth provided the game's final run.

"I felt good about [my performance], outside of that one inning where I loaded 'em up," Dickey said. "I gave up a lot of singles again. I don't know if you can do slugging percentage against a pitcher, or even if that's a value, but I feel like they're hitting pieces of it, they're just finding holes sometimes."

The small knocks that Toronto managed against Dickey proved to be enough for Halladay, and while the right-hander has shut down many teams this season, it was still a setback for a Mariners offense that had a productive road trip and put up the 18 hits on Sunday in a 9-2 win against the Padres.

It was also a particularly frustrating night for Jeff Clement, who struck out looking in each of his three at-bats. That included one in the seventh inning when he came up with runners on first and third with one out, only to watch a 95 mph Halladay fastball tail back over the inside corner. Kenji Johjima then kept the beat going by thumping another dribbler to shortstop to end the Mariners' only real threat of the game.

"I mean he threw four different pitches that were all quality pitches and stayed out of the middle of the zone with every single one of 'em," Clement said, admitting that he'd never seen someone quite like Halladay.

"And you couldn't tell what it was till late."

Riggleman thought Halladay saved his best stuff for the youngster.

"He threw that ball that is in on the hitter and runs back over the plate, did that to [Clement] a couple times," he said. "And that ball, that's just unhittable, you can't do anything with that pitch ... that's one you don't see too much and especially at that velocity."

Amid the offensive struggles, the bullpen continued its growing reputation as a reliable weapon for the Mariners, whether holding a lead or mopping up for poor -- in this case strong -- starting pitching. On Monday, it was Mark Lowe striking out two consecutive batters with one out in the seventh inning and a runner on third to keep the deficit at 2-0. He finished off the remaining two innings, as well, helping to conserve the Seattle bullpen for Tuesday, when reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith will start the game and presumably need backup.

But, in general, there was little to Monday's game outside of Seattle's inability to get to Halladay. After giving up two hits in the seventh before getting out of the jam, his last two innings told the story.

Six up and six down, with five of the outs via the ground ball as the Mariners' three-game winning streak slowly expired with each successive roller.

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

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