TORONTO (AP) - After eight innings of futility, the Mets' best chance to beat Brandon Morrow was cut short by a close call on the bases.
Morrow pitched his second shutout in four starts, blanking the Mets on three hits and leading the Toronto Blue Jays over New York 2-0 on Saturday.
``Morrow was sharp tonight,' New York's Mike Baxter said. ``He made a lot of good pitches, he mixed well, elevated his fastball in the zone. He threw really well.'
Morrow (5-2) struck out eight and walked one to win for the fifth time in six outings. He has three career shutouts, including a victory over the Los Angeles Angels on May 3.
``I'm feeling pretty good,' Morrow said. ``As long as I'm locating my fastball, I think I'm going to have a good game.'
Morrow also benefited from a call in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston led off with a walk and went to third on Baxter's one-out single. Baxter tried to stretch his hit into a double but was thrown out at second base by Jose Bautista, with shortstop Yunel Escobar applying the swipe tag. Replays confirmed that Baxter was not touched and should have been safe.
``We got into a good spot there,' said Baxter, who yelled in frustration at umpire Brian Knight before turning the argument over to manager Terry Collins.
``(Knight) said he thought (Escobar) tagged (Baxter) on the back,' Collins said. ``I thought if (Knight) didn't have a good view of it (he should) ask and he said he couldn't, so that was it. I pretty much had no argument after that.'
Blue Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson gave credit to Bautista, who picked up his third outfield assist.
``It was huge,' Johnson said. ``It was a scary situation. You're looking at second and third with one out and the middle of their order (coming up). They still have (David) Wright on the bench. That was a huge defensive play from our best player.'
Rather than dealing with a potential Mets rally, Morrow swiftly ended the game by getting Daniel Murphy to line out to shortstop.
``That's a tough one to lose,' Collins said.
Led by Morrow, Toronto matched its season high by winning its fourth in a row overall.
New York lost for the sixth time in nine games and saw starter Miguel Batista leave with a sore lower back after two scoreless innings.
The right-hander warmed up for the third but had to be replaced by righty Jeremy Hefner, who was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo before the game.
Batista said he tweaked a muscle in his back throwing a 3-2 cutter to Eric Thames in the second.
``I felt a pull there and it felt funny,' Batista said. ``After that I felt it every pitch.'
Hefner (0-1) held the Blue Jays in check until the fifth, when ninth-place hitter Jeff Mathis singled with two outs. Kelly Johnson doubled to center and the ball got past Andres Torres for an error, allowing Mathis to score the opening run and sending Johnson to third. Escobar followed with an RBI single.
Despite taking the loss, Hefner's outing left a good impression on his manager.
``I applaud the job Jeremy Hefner did, getting here this morning and giving us that kind of an outing is tremendous,' Collins said. ``If Miguel can't start, he's going in that spot.'
Wright, whose .409 batting average is highest in the majors, was held out of the lineup. Collins said the third baseman is still slowed by an illness and could be kept out of Sunday's series finale.
Morrow set down the first seven batters he faced before Ronny Cedeno singled through the right side in the third. Unfazed, Morrow retired the next 13 Mets batters in order, a streak that ended with Lucas Duda's two-out double to right in the seventh. Morrow promptly ended the inning by striking out Ike Davis.
NOTES: Mets INF Jordany Valdespin was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Hefner. ... Mets OF Jason Bay (fractured rib) hit off a tee Saturday and remains on track to resume full batting practice Monday in Pittsburgh. ... Blue Jays LHP Evan Crawford (back spasms) was not available. ... Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero went 0 for 4 Friday in his first game action at extended spring training, splitting time between the outfield and DH.
The Associated Press News Service
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