TORONTO (AP) - Brandon Morrow will be glad to see the end of August. It's been a miserable month for the Toronto right-hander.
David Price struck out a franchise-record 14 in seven dominant innings, Desmond Jennings hit a pair of solo home runs and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Blue Jays 12-0 on Sunday, handing Morrow his fourth loss in five August starts.
``Obviously I haven't been very good the last couple of times and probably this whole month,' Morrow said.
Morrow (9-9) allowed five runs and six hits, including three home runs, in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander has given up five homers in his past 10 innings.
``When he tried to step on it a bit and gain some velocity early, he just came out of his delivery a little bit and left a lot of balls up,' Toronto bench coach Don Wakamatsu said.
The Blue Jays lost their fourth straight. They finished with five hits.
Jennings homered on Morrow's first pitch of the game and got a career-high four hits. He drove in three runs, scored three, drew a walk and also stole a base from the leadoff spot.
Tampa Bay added four more in the second on catcher John Jaso's RBI double and back-to-back homers, a two-run blast from Sean Rodriguez and another solo drive by Jennings.
``I left a curveball up to Jaso and then following that it was two fastballs that came back over and missed my spot by a couple of feet,' Morrow said. ``I was having trouble getting my fastball to the outside edge to right-handers.'
There were no such problems for Price (12-11), who broke the Rays' team mark for strikeouts shared by Scott Kazmir and James Shields. The lefty improved to 9-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 11 career starts against Toronto.
``Hitting is hard enough already,' Jaso said. ``What David brought today made it pretty much impossible.'
It wasn't just Price's stuff, but a stiff wind blowing out to center field that made him so effective, giving his fastball extraordinary movement.
``I've never had that much movement before, so it was pretty cool,' Price said. ``The wind kept blowing and it was making my eyes watery all game. I knew it was blowing pretty good and I just kept throwing it.'
Jaso and Price felt strong gusts pushing them as they walked in from the bullpen beforehand, but didn't know how helpful the wind would be until the game began, and Price's two-seamer started drifting.
``It looks like a strike right out of his hand and then it's just fading off the plate,' Jaso explained. ``It was moving about three feet. Once they start to swing on his fastball, they can't hold it back.'
Price allowed only three singles and walked two. His first seven outs all came by a strikeout, with two hits mixed in during that span.
``He's got great movement,' Wakamatsu said. ``You can get down in the count right away.'
Rays pitchers set a team mark by fanning 18 batters overall. Reliever Brandon Gomes struck out two in 1 1-3 innings and Cesar Ramos struck out two to end it.
``It's fun to catch when you've got something like that going,' Jaso said.
Price quickly matched his career high, striking out 12 through five innings. The left-hander didn't fan anyone in the sixth, but finished his outing with two more strikeouts in the seventh, matching and then passing Kazmir (2007) and Shields (2011) for the Rays' record.
Price didn't give his defense much to do in the first three innings. He did allow a pair of baserunners over that span: Mike McCoy led off the first with a walk and Jose Molina hit a two-out single in the second. Neither runner advanced.
McCoy was the first batter to make an out on a batted ball when he grounded to second in the third. McCoy, who walked again in the sixth, was the only Blue Jays batter not to strike out against Price.
Toronto's 18 strikeouts were a season high, two more than it had in a 3-1 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels on April 10. The franchise record is 19, set twice previously, both times in extra-inning games.
Jennings put Tampa Bay ahead right away, connecting against Morrow for the first leadoff home run of his career.
``It's an early run and gets the team up and the pitcher, especially David, he doesn't need many runs,' Jennings said.
Matt Joyce doubled twice during a six-run ninth as the Rays improved to an AL-best 20-9 since July 28.
NOTES: Toronto LHP Wil Ledezma was designated for assignment after allowing six runs in the ninth. ... Blue Jays manager John Farrell (pneumonia) missed his third straight game, with Wakamatsu continuing to run the team. ... Rays RHP Kyle Farnsworth (elbow) was available after missing the previous four games. ... Toronto 1B Adam Lind, mired in a 3-for-21 slump, was held out of the starting lineup. ... Blue Jays RHP Jon Rauch (appendectomy) threw a bullpen session before the game, his second in three days. ... Toronto OF Rajai Davis (torn left hamstring) has begun jogging and taking batting practice at the team's minor league complex in Florida and could return before the end of the season. ... Tampa Bay RHP Wade Davis (8-7) faces Blue Jays LHP Ricky Romero (12-9) in Monday's series finale.
The Associated Press News Service
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