TORONTO (AP) Blue Jays manager John Gibbons thought Brandon Morrow ”had that look about him” as he faced the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.
For the first time in almost 11 months, it was the look of a winner.
Brett Lawrie hit a two-run homer, Morrow pitched six solid innings and Toronto beat Houston 7-3 for its third victory in four games.
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Gibbons said Morrow was ”very, very good” after the right-hander allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, walked one and struck out nine.
”I thought he was very aggressive tonight,” Gibbons said.
Morrow (1-1), limited to 10 starts last season with a nerve injury in his forearm, won for the first time since May 23, 2013, when he beat Baltimore.
”I felt good, so I was throwing with some conviction and with plenty behind it,” Morrow said.
Alex Presley hit a two-run homer for the Astros, who have lost six of seven following a 2-0 start.
Morrow retired the first nine batters in order, striking out six, but walked Dexter Fowler to begin the fourth on a ball-four pitch that sailed to the backstop. One out later, Jason Castro singled through the left side for Houston’s first hit.
Neil Wagner, recalled from Triple-A Buffalo before the game, pitched two perfect innings of relief. Steve Delabar got one out in the ninth, but had to leave after he was hit on the lower right leg by Jose Altuve’s liner. Esmil Rogers finished for Toronto.
Delabar said the ball struck him on the right calf, hitting muscle rather than bone.
”It’ll be sore a couple of days, but it’s no big deal,” Gibbons said.
Jose Bautista hit an RBI double in the first and Adam Lind added an RBI single as the Blue Jays jumped out to a quick lead against Houston right-hander Lucas Harrell.
”I didn’t throw very well,” Harrell said. ”First inning, I came out a little sluggish, left some balls out over the plate.”
Toronto made it 5-0 in a three-run fifth thanks to an error by Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez. With one out, Houston intentionally walked Lind to load the bases for Dioner Navarro, who hit a grounder to third. Dominguez tried to throw to second to start a double play, but his high toss ended up in right field, scoring two runs.
”It cost us a lot of momentum,” Dominguez said. ”At that point in the game, it’s a big play.”
The error spelled the end for Harrell, who allowed five runs, including four earned, and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. Harrell (0-2) walked three, one intentional, and struck out two.
Jerome Williams replaced Harrell, but had to leave with two outs in the sixth after straining his right groin. Josh Zeid came on and struck out Edwin Encarnacion to strand runners at first and second.
Astros manager Bo Porter said Williams had a ”mild strain” and would be reevaluated Thursday.
The Astros had just two hits off Morrow through the first five innings before breaking through with three runs in the sixth. Fowler singled and scored on Presley’s second homer before Altuve hit a one-out triple and scored on Chris Carter’s grounder.
”He pitched well,” Dominguez said of Morrow. ”He was moving it in and out, he was really hitting his spots. He made it tough those first four or five innings.”
Lawrie pushed Toronto’s lead to four when he connected off Zeid in the seventh, his first.
Toronto’s Melky Cabrera had two singles, extending his hitting streak to nine games. However, Cabrera failed to hit a home run for the first time in five games.
NOTES: Toronto optioned RHP Marcus Walden to Triple-A to make room for Wagner. … Blue Jays RHP Casey Janssen (back) said he felt ”great” after a bullpen session before the game. He’ll throw in the bullpen again Saturday… Fowler returned to Houston’s starting lineup for the first time since a stomach virus caused him to miss four games. … Wednesday marked the 49th anniversary of baseball’s first indoor game, the 1965 exhibition contest between Houston and the New York Yankees that opened the Astrodome.