Morrow holds White Sox to two hits in shutout

Morrow holds White Sox to two hits in shutout

Morrow holds White Sox to two hits in shutout
CHICAGO -- Brandon Morrow's worked hard to perfect a four-pitch arsenal, but when his fastball-slider combination is working as well as it did on Wednesday night, they're really the only two pitches he needs.

Toronto's right-hander didn't throw a single curveball and tossed just a few changeups, but it didn't matter because his top two pitches were more than enough to put forth a dominating performance against the White Sox.

Morrow allowed just two hits, and tossed his Major League-leading third shutout of the season, while Jose Bautista and Rajai Davis each homered to give the Blue Jays a 4-0 victory over Chicago at U.S. Cellular Field.

"It was all fastball-slider," said Morrow, whose ERA now sits at 2.90. "I threw a few changeups to the left-handers to keep them honest, but when I have fastball command down to both sides of the plate, that's when I've been at my best, and I had that tonight."

Morrow struck out five and walked just two in his nine overpowering innings. He became the first Blue Jays pitcher since Roy Halladay to throw at least three shutouts in a season, and in doing so he moved past Johan Santana for most in the big leagues this year.

The Blue Jays No. 2 starter has now allowed just one run in 15 1/3 innings since a disastrous outing in Texas that saw six runs cross the plate in just two-thirds of an inning.

Morrow's also won seven of his past nine starts, and in those victories has allowed just three runs and 28 hits over 52 frames for a sparkling 0.52 ERA.

"I think it's been my command so far, limiting the walks," Morrow said when asked what he was most proud of this season. "Taking that step forward every year and decreasing that number, that's what I'm most proud of.

"Just reps I think, just getting comfortable out there. I've cut it down each year to something respectable last year, and to something that allows me to have a lot of success this year."

The only blemish Morrow had early in the game came on a two-out single by catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the second. Chicago then went 14 consecutive hitters without reaching base until second baseman Kelly Johnson made an error with one out in the seventh.

Pierzynski added another single to lead off the eighth, while Morrow issued his first two walks of the night in the ninth, but eventually secured the shutout by striking out Dayan Viciedo to end the game.

"He seemed to be locating everything," said Chicago first baseman Tyler Flowers, who went 0-for-3. "I didn't see the pitches that AJ got hits on, but maybe those were a couple of mistakes. I got one pitch to hit all day and missed it. I just tried to battle after that, and it seems like everyone was in the same situation.

"He was aggressive, getting ahead, and his slider and [fastball], at least what I saw were pretty darn good today. It makes it tough."

The Blue Jays offense was held in check by starter Jose Quintana until the fifth inning. With one on and nobody out, Rajai Davis appeared to ground into an inning-ending double play, but was ruled safe at first base by umpire Jim Reynolds.

That safe call paid off for the Blue Jays, as two batters later Colby Rasmus hit a ball into the gap to score Davis for the first run of the game.

The Blue Jays increased their lead in the sixth when Bautista led off with a mammoth home run to left. Bautista's 15th of the season and third in four games came on a 3-2 slider from Quintana. Chicago's left-hander was pulled after the inning, having surrendered those two runs on nine hits and one walk. He struck out one.

Toronto then gave Morrow some more breathing room in the top of the ninth, as Davis hit a two-run shot just inside the left-field foul pole off of left-hander Hector Santiago.

"Once you get comfortable, for me it just takes a lot more pressure off you to go out there and produce every single day," said Davis, who became the Blue Jays starting left fielder when Eric Thames was optioned to Triple-A. "That's what you want to do. Unfortunately it doesn't happen like that every game.

"It's just nice to be able to go out there and help us win. The important thing is helping us win. Brandon Morrow pitched a great game. He was fantastic out there. He was ahead of the hitters. He kept them off balance."

The Blue Jays have now won three consecutive games, and will look for a three-game series sweep over Chicago on Thursday night. Toronto is now 28-11 versus the White Sox since the start of the 2007 season, and have won six consecutive series against the club.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.