One for memory lane

KEN FIDLIN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

Ultimately, Reed Johnson beat the Blue Jays with his bat yesterday. But well before he jolted Roy Halladay for a three-run home run, he had set the stage with his insight.

"I told the guys (Halladay) was either going to throw 75 or 80 pitches and win, or we're really going to be aggressive and get to him early," Johnson said. "I knew that's what we had to do."

Having watched and admired Halladay for the better part of five seasons in Toronto, Johnson knew what the Cubs had to do to avoid being sliced and diced.

Fortunately, the Cubs are accustomed to that approach. They've been aggressively hacking their way through the National League all season, and they beat up on one of the AL's best yesterday in a 6-2 win over the Jays.

Johnson's plan worked better than he could have imagined. After Halladay retired the first two hitters of the second inning on routine ground balls, second baseman Mike Fontenot dumped a single into left field. Mark DeRosa followed with a similar hit into right to put runners on first and second with shortstop Ronny Cedeno ready to bat.

Cedeno's sharply hit grounder forced Toronto shortstop David Eckstein to make a quick step to his left and extend. It was not a routine play but certainly one that Eckstein makes nine times out of 10. This time, though, he booted it, chased after it on his hands and knees as it rolled away and Fontenot streaked home for the game's first run.

"(Cedeno) barrelled it and normally if he's there, Dave makes the play. It's tough to say. He did hit it hard," Jays manager John Gibbons said.

It got worse when Johnson stepped up and belted Halladay's one-strike offering into the bullpen in left to put the Cubs up 4-0. It was the culmination of a two-day Johnson love-in as he returned to Toronto -- the only other big-league town he's played in -- for the first time.

"You see that a lot," Gibbons said. "A guy comes back to his old stomping grounds and plays well. I've seen it for us and I've seen it against us."

For Johnson, the boisterous applause he received, both yesterday and Friday, was a revelation.

"I have a lot of good memories here in Toronto and that's just one more to add to the collection," he said. "It's something I'll never forget. I expected people to stand up and clap but I didn't know it would be as special as that. It's rewarding to know you've made an impression on a city."

The Cubs approach against Halladay added up to six runs in five innings as they forced the pitch count ever higher.

"I felt like good pitches I made were fouled off and they'd take some good pitches. That was probably the toughest part," Halladay said. "It got the pitch count up and the one bad pitch to Reed, I would've liked to have had it (inside) more. That's baseball sometimes."

Of course, the Eckstein error would have ended the inning before all those fireworks happened. Halladay chose to blame himself for not picking up his teammate.

"There's obviously things you can't control as a pitcher. I've got to worry about my job and I just didn't make a quality pitch after that," he said.

The Cubs added single runs in the third and fifth innings, but the damage already had been done.

Meanwhile, journeyman Jason Marquis kept the Jays hitless until Lyle Overbay's single in the fifth.

In the eighth inning, Barajas, Wilkerson and Eckstein touched Marquis for consecutive singles to load the bases. Reliever Carlos Marmol struck out Joe Inglett and Alex Rios before walking Matt Stairs to produce Toronto's first run of the game. In the ninth, Kevin Mench belted a leadoff triple and came home on Lyle Overbay's sacrifice fly.

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JAYS BUZZ

WELLS WORRIES

Losing to the Cubs was bad enough, but having Vernon Wells grimace in pain after popping up in the seventh inning was an even bigger scare for the Jays. Wells, who only recently returned to the lineup from a broken wrist, felt a twinge in there and was quickly pulled from the game.

"It happens sometimes when I make an awkward swing," he said. "That one was just a little more (painful) than the others. I expect to play (today)."

With an off-day tomorrow, the Jays may choose to sit their centrefielder and give his wrist two full days of rest.

SHORT, NOT SWEET

Roy Halladay's five-inning start was his shortest in almost a year. Halladay lasted only five innings against the Boston Red Sox on July 12 last year. He was also touched for more runs (six) than in any start since June 8, 2007, when he gave up eight. Four of the runs scored against Halladay were unearned.

ONE-RUN WONDERS

There is usually a very fine line between winning and losing for the Jays, who have been involved in 27 one-run games this year, most in the American League. They have won 11 and lost 16 of those games. Of their last 16 games, nine have been decided by a solitary run. The Jays are 3-6 in those games.

INTERLEAGUE

After winning their interleague opening series against Philadelphia (2-1), the Jays are now 3-2 against National League competition. The Jays still have 13 games left before they're done with NL opponents this season.

ZAUN DELAYED

Catcher Gregg Zaun had hoped to be finished his rehab assignment in Syracuse but rainouts have delayed his return. He is unlikely to be back with the Jays until their next series Tuesday in Milwaukee.

NEXT UP

Today: 1:07 p.m. Chicago Cubs Ted Lilly (6-5, 5.13) vs. Blue Jays Jesse Litsch (8-5, 3.07). CBC/Fan 590.


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