ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Brandon Morrow is ending the season in grand fashion.
Morrow pitched seven scoreless innings and the Toronto Blue Jays further dampened Tampa Bay's playoff hopes, beating David Price and the Rays 5-1 Friday night.
``His conviction to each pitch, his aggressiveness was outstanding,' Toronto manager John Farrell said. ``He was powerful. For the most part he pitched ahead in the count, and when he does that with that type of stuff, he can be dominant.'
A night after pounding out 17 hits in a 15-8 road romp at Yankee Stadium, the Rays were limited to Matt Joyce's second-inning infield single until Casey Kotchman singled with one out in the seventh off Morrow (11-11).
``They didn't look comfortable up there hitting,' Blue Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson said. ``He throws so hard. He's one of the tougher ones to hit.'
Morrow allowed two hits, walked four and struck out nine as Toronto played spoiler for the second straight night. Edwin Encarnacion's 12th-inning walk-off homer at home beat Los Angeles 4-3, dropping the Angels three games behind Boston in the wild-card race.
``It's fun to win, no matter what,' Johnson said. ``We're playing against a lot of teams that are desperate to win and we're doing all right. It's definitely encouraging.'
Toronto has won 10 of its last 15 games.
Morrow was coming off an eight-inning shutout performance in a 3-0 victory over the New York Yankees last Sunday.
``Last time was a good way to start it and I kept it going this time ... Being aggressive,' Morrow said.
Johnson homered and drove in two runs for the Blue Jays. He led off the sixth with a home run that drew a smattering of boos from a crowd of just 18,093 at half-filled Tropicana Field.
``Regardless of who we're playing, we're trying to win as many games as possible,' Farrell said.
Johnson also had a RBI single in the third off Price (12-13). Eric Thames hit an RBI single in the fifth.
Joel Carreno and Luis Perez each pitched an inning to finish a combined three-hitter for Toronto. The Rays didn't get a runner past second base until the ninth, when Johnny Damon walked and wound up scoring from third on Joyce's two-out single.
Morrow had six strikeouts and threw 48 pitches through two. The right-hander made just 65 pitches over the next five innings.
``With the position they were in, they were being really aggressive and I think they helped me out on a couple (at_bats),' Morrow said.
Morrow induced his first grounded into a double play in 173 1-3 innings, dating to Aug. 28, 2010, when he got an inning-ending grounder from Desmond Jennings in the fifth.
``And it came against one of the fastest guys in the league,' Johnson said.
The Blue Jays scored three runs in the third, two on Price's second throwing error of the inning. The All-Star lefty came off the mound to field Thames' high chopper with the bases loaded but his throw to the plate for a forceout sailed and skipped off the glove of leaping catcher Kelly Shoppach.
Toronto made it 3-0 on Johnson's two-out, broken-bat single, but wound up costing themselves a run on the play when Jose Bautista overran second base and was thrown out by center fielder B.J. Upton - an instant before Thames crossed the plate for what would have been a fourth run in the inning.
The way the Rays were swinging the bats, it didn't matter.
Price gave up five runs - two earned - and five hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
The Rays have lost four of five and dropped 2 1/2 games behind Boston in the AL wild-card race. The Red Sox were rained out at New York.
``It's big blow,' Price said.
NOTES: Johnson is 8 for 19 with four RBIs over his last five games. ... Blue Jays 1B Adam Lind left the team Friday to fly home to Toronto for the birth of his child. ... Toronto LHP Ricky Romero (15-10), Saturday's scheduled starter, is 8-2 with a 2.84 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break. ... Farrell said it's unlikely that INF Yunel Escobar (left elbow) will play again this season if he can't take batting practice on Sunday. ... Former supermodel Cheryl Tiegs threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The Associated Press News Service
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