April 9, 2014, TORONTO (ISN) – Canadian Brett Lawrie hit his first home run of the season and Toronto starter Brandon Morrow struck out nine over six innings as the Blue Jays defeated the Houston Astros 7-3 on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.
Lawrie belted a two-run shot off reliever Josh Zeid in the seventh inning as Toronto (5-4) earned its first series victory of the young season. Morrow (1-1) allowed five hits and three earned runs as the Blue Jays moved above the .500 mark.
Melky Cabrera, Maicer Izturis and Dioner Navarro had two hits apiece as Toronto outhit the Astros 10-6.
Morrow struck out the side in the first inning and his teammates gave him an early lead with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame.
Izturis got things started with a one-out single off Lucas Harrell (0-2) and he came around to score on a double by Jose Bautista. Cleanup hitter Edwin Encarnacion grounded out but Adam Lind followed with a single to centre that brought Bautista home.
Morrow retired the Astros in order the first time through the lineup. The hard-throwing right-hander had six strikeouts and three ground-ball outs over his first nine batters.
Houston leadoff man Dexter Fowler opened the fourth inning with a walk and moved to third on Jason Castro’s one-out single. Morrow wasn’t fazed — he struck out cleanup man Jose Altuve before fanning Chris Carter to get out of the jam.
Navarro doubled in the bottom half of the fourth and moved to third when Lawrie, from Langley, B.C., grounded out. Colby Rasmus drew a walk but Ryan Goins flew out to end the threat.
Toronto padded its lead in the fifth inning with three runs. Cabrera singled, stole second and scored on a single by Izturis.
Bautista walked and the runners advanced when Encarnacion grounded out weakly to the first-base side. After Lind was intentionally walked to load the bases, Navarro hit a tailor-made double play ball to Matt Dominguez but the third baseman made an errant throw that allowed two runs to score.
Jerome Williams came on in relief and recorded the next two outs.
Houston (3-6) got on the board with three runs in the sixth inning. Fowler singled to centre and Alex Presley followed with a two-run homer to deep right-centre field.
Altuve tripled and scored when Carter grounded out. Encarnacion made a nice play at first base by short-hopping a chopper from Marc Krauss and stepping on the bag for the third out.
In the bottom of the sixth, Goins reached on a walk but was later picked off by Williams. Izturis drew a two-out walk and moved to second when Bautista lashed a ball down the third-base line that rolled under the glove of Dominguez for an error.
Encarnacion worked a 2-2 count on Williams before the Houston pitcher chose to leave the game due to a right groin strain. He was replaced by Zeid, who completed the strikeout.
Triple-A callup Neil Wagner relieved Morrow in the seventh inning and retired the Astros in order. Announced attendance was 13,569 and the game took three hours nine minutes to play.
The Blue Jays will go for a sweep of the three-game series on Thursday night.
Notes: Toronto ace R.A. Dickey (1-1) is scheduled to face Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel (0-1) in the series finale. … Before the game, the Blue Jays recalled Wagner from the Buffalo Bisons and optioned fellow right-hander Marcus Walden to the triple-A club. … Izturis was moved from the No. 8 spot to the second position in the batting order. He went 2-for-3 to improve his batting average to .459. … Toronto split a four-game series at Tampa Bay to open the season before dropping a weekend set to the New York Yankees. … Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar entered in the ninth inning but had to leave after taking a line drive off his leg. He didn’t appear to be seriously hurt but was limping as he walked towards the dugout. Esmil Rogers replaced him on the mound and got the last two outs.