Davis homers, drives in three, as Blue Jays top O's

Davis homers, drives in three, as Blue Jays top O's

Davis homers, drives in three, as Blue Jays top O's
TORONTO -- Brandon Morrow might have been away for more than two months with an oblique injury, but since making a late August return he hasn't missed a beat on the mound.

Toronto's hard-throwing righty has shown little-to-no signs of rust after getting back on the hill. The devastating fastball-slider combination has been equally as efficient, while the strikeouts continue to pile up.

Morrow's effectiveness continued on Wednesday night as he allowed just two runs over six innings while Rajai Davis homered and drove home three to help snap the Blue Jays' losing streak at four games with a 6-4 victory over the Orioles at Rogers Centre.

"Just to kind of regain the same confidence and feeling, especially with the secondary pitches that I had earlier in the season," Morrow said of his goal for the rest of the year. "I'm feeling that now, I'm feeling like I came back in pretty much the same spot. Then just to get in as many innings and as many starts as I can, so I don't miss too much on that front."

Morrow was the Blue Jays' best pitcher when he suffered the untimely injury during a start against the Nationals on June 11. He was well on his way to a career season and a potential Cy Young candidacy with a 7-4 record, 3.03 ERA and a Major League-leading three shutouts.

All of those hopes were dashed in the outing against Washington, which lasted just nine pitches. But Morrow has managed to come back, displaying the same type of overpowering stuff on the mound as he had prior to the injury.

Morrow has allowed just five runs in 17 1/3 innings in three starts since returning. He has struck out 18 while walking five over that span, and has yet to surrender more than two runs in a game.

The one missing piece could be linked to his curveball, which manager John Farrell believes has been a little inconsistent at times in the past two weeks. When the curveball is on, Morrow is as tough as any pitcher in the game.

"I think it just allows him to have a better effort level, so when he's thrown his curveball for strikes, he's a little bit more under control with his delivery," Farrell said. "I think it filters into the execution of his fastball. Sometimes when he has missed with his curveball, there are times when he starts to overthrow his fastball, thinking he has to be a little more fine.

"That's where you see more deep counts, that's where you see him yank some more fastballs to his glove side. But it just gives him the ability to open up the strike zone from a couple of different ways. Top to bottom, with the depth of the curveball and back and forth which changes speeds."

Morrow's only rough inning occurred in the second. He allowed a leadoff homer to Adam Jones on a 2-1 pitch, then proceeded to walk three of the next four batters.

Manny Machado drove home the second run of the inning on a grounder to second base, but Morrow was able to strand the remaining two runners by getting Nick Markakis to ground out and end the threat.

Morrow faced just one batter over the minimum during his final four innings. He was eventually lifted after the sixth, having allowed the two runs on three hits while striking out six and throwing 54 of his 92 pitches for strikes.

"It was great, minus the one inning," said Morrow, who now has 10 quality starts this season. "Solo home runs are going to happen, but if I could have limited the walks then I would have had a better inning there and maybe been able to go a little bit longer."

Toronto entered play on Wednesday having been shut out in its previous two games against the Orioles. The scoreless streak came to an end at 19 innings when Kelly Johnson drove home the Blue Jays' first run of the game in the second with an RBI double off Baltimore starter Miguel Gonzalez.

Davis followed in the third with a solo shot to left field to tie the game at 2-2. Davis' seventh homer of the season came on a first-pitch slider and marked his first homer since July 30 in Seattle.

Neither team scored again until the seventh. Yunel Escobar led off the inning with a double to left and later advanced to third on a bunt single by Johnson. The Blue Jays then utilized some small ball to take a 3-2 lead, as Adeiny Hechavarria reached base on a safety squeeze that scored Escobar.

Right-hander Luis Ayala came on in relief, but proceeded to allow a bloop single to Anthony Gose and a bases-loaded single to Davis. The single ended up clearing the bases when Jones attempted to throw out Gose at third, but instead saw the ball bounce away from Machado.

Gonzalez was charged with five of the six runs on seven hits while striking out four. It was just the second time in his past six outings that Gonzalez allowed more than two runs in a start.

"My split-finger was working well," Gonzalez said. "Just spotting up in and out helped me out. We played a good ballgame tonight, things just didn't go our way."

It was the first time since Aug. 29 that the Blue Jays scored more than four runs and just the fifth time it has happened since July 27. Gose was a major reason why, as he went 2-for-3 with a triple in his first start since returning from Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday.

"It feels like a fresh start," Gose said. "I know it says .180 (average) but it feels like a fresh start. Like, take a deep breathe, here we go again and try to get back on it."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.