Morrow helps Blue Jays win third straight, 2-1 over Rays
Toronto Blue Jays' catcher Jeff Mathis catches the ball before tagging out Tampa Bay Rays Matt Joyce as he tried for home during second inning MLB action in Toronto, Friday, August 31, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim
Published Friday, August 31, 2012 10:05PM EDT
TORONTO -- Right-hander Brandon Morrow allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings and Moises Sierra and Edwin Encarnacion each homered as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Friday.
Sierra helped the Blue Jays earn their third straight win when he threw out pinch-runner Elliot Johnson at home plate for the final out.
It was the second start for Morrow since coming off the disabled list last Saturday when he took the loss at Baltimore after pitching 4 2/3 innings.
He allowed eight hits, including a home run by Desmond Jennings, and one walk while striking out five to gain his first win since June 6 against the Chicago White Sox.
Morrow injured his left oblique muscle nine pitches into his start against the Washington Nationals on June 11.
Casey Janssen pitched the ninth for his 19th save as the Blue Jays (60-71) won three straight for the first time since July 26-28.
The struggling Rays (71-61) have lost six of their past seven games.
Rays' right-hander Jeremy Hellickson allowed four hits, including two home runs, and one walk while striking out three in six innings.
Jeff Keppinger singled to begin the ninth off Casey Janssen and was replaced by Johnson, who moved to second on Luke Scott's flyball. Ryan Roberts struck out looking before pinch-hitter Carlos Pena singled to right. But Sierra made a hard throw to catcher Jeff Mathis, who blocked the plate and tagged out Johnson to end the game.
Another key play came in the second inning when Rajai Davis threw out Matt Joyce at the plate to keep the Rays off the board for the 11 consecutive innings in the series.
Joyce led off with a walk and took second on a single by Keppinger. Roberts single to left and Davis made a one-throw home and Joyce was called out.
Jennings led off the third with his 11th homer of the season and the seventh of his career against the Blue Jays. B.J. Upton followed with a single but Morrow retired the next three hitters.
Hellickson retired his first six hitters of the game, but Sierra led off the third with his third major-league homer to tie the score 1-1.
Encarnacion hit his 35th of the season with one out in the fourth to put Toronto into a 2-1 lead.
Morrow did his best to hold the lead. Roberts hit a two-out double in the fourth but Jose Molina fouled out followed by Luke Scott striking out.
Keppinger hit a two-out double in the sixth when Davis made an ill-advised dive instead of keeping the ball in front of him for a single. But Scott struck out again.
The Rays had another two-out double in the seventh by Jennings and that was Morrow's final batter. Steve Delabar took over to retire Upton on a grounder to second.
Hellickson, who had made only 74 pitches, was removed for left-hander Jake McGee in the seventh after Encarnacion led off with a single.
Delabar struck out the side in the eighth.