NEW YORK - Joba Chamberlain struggled with his control, walked off the mound in the third inning and threw his glove in the dugout.
His first major league start was a memorable one, all right. Just not for the reasons he’d hoped.
Chamberlain lasted 2 1-3 innings and Roy Halladay held the New York Yankees in check despite some control problems of his own, leading the Toronto Blue Jays to a 9-3 victory on Tuesday night.
“I wanted to get my team a lot deeper into the game and it wasn’t very good,” Chamberlain said. “That’s what it comes down to. I’ve got to be better, that’s for sure.”
Alex Rios extended his hitting streak against the Yankees to 24 games and David Eckstein had three RBIs for Toronto, which patiently concentrated on Chamberlain’s pitch count and forced New York to use six pitchers total.
“We worked him good, we really did,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’s going to be really good once he builds up his stamina. He’s got overpowering stuff.”
Halladay (7-5) won his fourth straight decision and improved to 5-1 with a 2.58 ERA in his last seven games. He allowed two runs and six hits in six innings.
The former AL Cy Young Award winner got off to a rough start but quickly settled down and improved to 11-5 with a 3.03 ERA against New York.
“I felt like for the most part we were pretty good when we had to be,” Halladay said. “It was one of those games where you were grinding all the time.”
Halladay was around long after Chamberlain departed from his much-anticipated start.
A sellout crowd of 53,629 that included Chamberlain’s father, Harlan, roared as the hard-throwing right-hander was introduced with the starting lineup and gave the youngster a standing ovation before he threw his first pitch.
His initial offering to leadoff hitter Shannon Stewart was a ball — a sign of things to come. Chamberlain touched 101 mph on the Yankee Stadium scoreboard but walked three and threw 38 pitches in the first as Toronto took a 1-0 lead on Rios’ groundout.
Chamberlain retired the side in order in the second and got Marco Scutaro to fly out to right to begin the third. But Rios walked on four straight balls, and manager Joe Girardi removed the 22-year-old after 62 pitches, about what the Yankees had planned to limit him to.
“It was the first step, that’s all,” said team co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner, who watched the game in his office at the Yankees’ facility in Tampa, Fla. “Again, he’s 22. This was the first step. We’re looking at a 10-year or more career.
“Tonight was a creation of the media. If this had been a first start for any other pitcher on any other team, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal.”
Chamberlain walked off the mound and sheepishly removed his cap to acknowledge the cheering crowd as he approached the dugout. He threw his glove down as he climbed down the steps and sat down with a dejected look on his face.
Dan Giese (0-1) relieved Chamberlain and allowed a run in 3 2-3 innings in his first game with New York.
“I was mad at myself,” Chamberlain said. “You know you’ve only got so many pitches and I didn’t do a very good job of conserving those pitches.”
Chamberlain, the 41st overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft, was converted to a reliever last year to help the Yankees bridge the gap to closer Mariano Rivera. He made his major league debut at Toronto on Aug. 7 and went 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA in 19 games.
He opened this season in the bullpen but was stretched out over three appearances before he joined the rotation.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Rios extended his streak against the Yankees with a seventh-inning single. It’s the second-longest active streak against one team in the majors and the longest against New York since Charlie Gehringer’s 31-game streak for Detroit from 1935-36, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Derek Jeter singled in the ninth inning to tie Mickey Mantle for third on the Yankees’ career list with 2,415 hits. Jeter, who went 2-for-5, received a warm ovation from what was left of the capacity crowd.
Rod Barajas and Eckstein each had a two-run double in Toronto’s six-run seventh.
Notes: Halladay hit two batters and walked one. ... Blue Jays OF Vernon Wells (broken left wrist) took batting practice and Gibbons said he reported no problems. ... 2B Aaron Hill (mild concussion) also took BP and remains day to day. ... Yankees RHP Ian Kennedy, on the disabled list with a strained muscle near his right rib cage, was scheduled to play catch from 60 feet. ... Ichiro Suzuki’s 26-game hitting streak for Seattle against Kansas City is the longest active streak against one team in the majors. ... The Yankees issued a season-high 10 walks.
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