Published September 05, 2012
TORONTO – Brandon Morrow's solid finish is giving the struggling Blue Jays a bright spot in an otherwise sour September.
Rookie Adeiny Hechavarria drove in the go-ahead run with a bunt single, Rajai Davis homered and had three RBIs and Toronto beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-4 on Wednesday night to avoid a three-game sweep.
Morrow, who didn't figure in the decision, allowed two runs and three hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out six.
"Morrow for me is one of the best pitchers in the league," Orioles slugger Mark Reynolds said. "He's tough man. He runs it up there 96 or 97 with a nice, hard slider."
Morrow missed 65 games in June, July and August after suffering a strained muscle in his left side, but has shown no ill effects in three starts since returning Aug. 25 at Baltimore.
The right-hander, who had won seven of nine starts before leaving injured in the first inning of a June 11 loss to Washington, spoke about his success in trying to "regain the confidence and feeling" he'd had prior to landing on the disabled list.
"I'm feeling like I came back in pretty much the same spot," Morrow said.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter heaped praise on Morrow for holding the streaking Orioles in check.
"The key was Morrow, he was outstanding," Showalter said.
Reynolds said Morrow was able to reach back for a little extra when he needed it.
"It seemed like in big spots he really humped up and was throwing really hard and locating real well," Reynolds said.
Steve Delabar (4-1) worked one inning of relief for the win as the Blue Jays snapped a four-game slide and ended Baltimore's winning streak at three.
"We just hope this could be the next winning streak for us," Davis said. "A long one, not a short one."
Baltimore's loss, combined with New York's 6-4 win at Tampa Bay, dropped the Orioles one game behind the Yankees as they prepare to open a four-game series against New York on Thursday night at Camden Yards.
"It's fun, I'm looking forward to it," Reynolds said. "This whole weekend should be a great time."
After an off-day Monday, the Orioles host the Rays for three. Tampa Bay is currently 1 1/2 games behind Baltimore in both the AL East standings and the wild card race.
Adam Jones hit a solo home run and Reynolds added a two-run drive off Casey Janssen in the ninth, his sixth in six games and 18th of the season, but it wasn't enough for Baltimore.
"We played a good ballgame tonight, things just didn't go our way," right-hander Miguel Gonzalez said.
Jones got the Orioles on the board with a leadoff homer in the second, his 27th. Morrow loaded the bases by walking three of the next four batters before Manny Machado made it 2-0 with an RBI groundout.
Toronto sliced the deficit in half on Kelly Johnson's RBI double in the bottom half, snapping Baltimore's streak of 23 scoreless innings, then tied it in the third when Davis hit a one-out homer to left, his seventh.
Yunel Escobar led off the seventh with a broken bat double to left and moved to third on Johnson's bunt single. Yorvit Torrealba fouled out before Hechavarria dropped down a safety squeeze. Gonzalez charged off the mound and tried to make a backhanded scoop to the plate with his glove, but the ball rolled past Wieters as Escobar slid safely home, giving the Blue Jays their first lead in September.
"It was just good execution," Showalter said. "(They) execute it right, there's not a whole lot you can do."
Luis Ayala came on to face Anthony Gose, who loaded the bases with a single under the glove of shortstop J.J. Hardy. Davis followed with a two-run single to center, with Gose making it 6-2 on Jones' throwing error.
Gonzalez (6-4) gave up five runs, four earned, and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings. He walked none and struck out four.
Machado hit a leadoff single in the eighth, chasing Delabar, and Darren Oliver issued a one-out walk to Hardy. Lew Ford pinch hit for Nate McLouth and narrowly missed a double when his fly ball down the left field line fell just foul, with Showalter coming out to argue with third base umpire Laz Diaz.
"Some people saw a replay and said it was fair, the guy that mattered said it was foul," Showalter said.
Two pitches later, Ford grounded into an inning-ending double play.
NOTES: The Blue Jays plan to skip struggling LHP Ricky Romero the next time through the rotation. Romero, who has lost 12 straight starts, will next pitch Sept. 12 against Seattle, working on nine days' rest. Toronto will then use a six-man rotation for the remainder of the season. ... Orioles LHP Troy Patton (right ankle) threw from 120 feet on flat ground again Wednesday, and will throw off a flat mound Friday, Showalter said. There is no timetable for his return. ... Blue Jays minor league RHP Jose Brito of the Dominican Summer League has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for steroids. ... Toronto 3B Brett Lawrie (right ribcage strain) went 0 for 3 with a walk in a rehab game at Class A Dunedin, while C J.P. Arencibia (right hand) went 1-4 as Dunedin was eliminated from the playoffs. Arencibia will rejoin the Blue Jays on Friday in Boston, while Lawrie will join Double-A Lansing to continue his rehab stint.