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Morrow pitches Blue Jays past Astros

The SportsXchange

TORONTO - This is the Brandon Morrow the Toronto Blue Jays need to see more of this season.

The right-hander came out on Wednesday with his fastball blazing and struck out five of his first six batters. He finished with nine strikeouts in six innings.

"I felt good so I was throwing with some conviction and with plenty behind it," Morrow said.

And with third baseman Brett Lawrie hitting a two-run homer and left fielder Melky Cabrera extending his hitting streak to nine games with two singles the Blue Jays defeated the Houston Astros 7-3.

"I thought he was very aggressive tonight, he had that look about him, too," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Morrow. "It's something to build on."

It was the second win in a row for the Blue Jays (5-4) over the Astros (3-6), who are on a three-game losing streak.

Right fielder Alex Presley hit a two-run homer for the Astros.

Morrow (1-1) allowed five hits, one walk and three runs while posting his highest strikeout total in a game since May 9, 2012, when he had 10 at Oakland.

Astros left-hander Lucas Harrell (0-2) allowed seven hits, three walks (one intentional) and five runs (four earned) in 4 1/3 innings.

"I didn't throw very well," Harrell said. "The first inning I came out a little sluggish and left some balls out over the plate and they made some hits. [Catcher Jason] Castro had a really good plan and I stuck to it -- he kept me in the game. I felt like he did a really good job."

After a long bottom of the fifth, the Astros scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning to cut the Blue Jays' lead to 5-3. Presley hit his second homer of the season after center fielder Dexter Fowler led off with a single. Second baseman Jose Altuve tripled with one out and scored on designated hitter Chris Carter's grounder to Lawrie, who made a good play to get the out at first.

"I think the long inning there kind of killed me a little bit," Morrow said. "They jumped on some early pitches that I didn't locate very well."

"I think he really established a power fastball and once he established a power fastball I felt like he got us to expand a little bit with his secondary stuff," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "So sometimes you just got to tip your cap to the other guy. That guy was pretty good tonight."

"In the sixth inning they kind of ambushed him a little bit, came out swinging," Gibbons said. "But overall he was dominating, pumping pretty good."

Houston right-handed reliever Jerome Williams left the game with two out in the sixth with a right groin strain.

The Blue Jays built the lead to 7-3 in the seventh against right-handed reliever Josh Zeid on Lawrie's first home run of the season. It scored catcher Dioner Navarro, who singled with one out and stole second, his 11th career stolen base and his first since 2009.

Right-hander Neil Wagner pitched two innings in relief for Toronto.

Blue Jays right-hander Steve Delabar got one out in the ninth before limping off after he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Altuve that bounced to first baseman Edwin Encarnacion for an out.

"It got him on a good side to hit, back side of the shin, but didn't hit bone," Gibbons said. "It'll be sore a couple of days but it's no big deal. But, of course, it's not my leg."

Right-hander Esmil Rogers took his place to finish the game.

The Blue Jays opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Second baseman Maicer Izturis, inserted into the No. 2 spot in the order with a .421 batting average entering the game, singled and scored on a double to right by right fielder Jose Bautista. Designated hitter Adam Lind scored Bautista with a single.

The Blue Jays led 5-0 after a three-run fifth.

Izturis singled up the middle to score Cabrera, who led off with a single and stole second. Bautista walked, and Encarnacion moved the runners to second and third with a grounder to first. Lind was intentionally walked. Third baseman Matt Dominguez threw wildly to second on a potential double-play grounder by Navarro and two runs scored on the error.

"Harrell made a pitch to get out of the inning and I just made a bad throw," Dominguez said. "And it cost us a lot of momentum, and at that point in the game it was a big play. You want to win games, you can't do that."

NOTES: The Blue Jays recalled RHP Neil Wagner from Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday and returned RHP Marcus Walden on option to the Bisons. Wagner had two saves at Buffalo. ... Blue Jays RHP Casey Janssen (back) threw a bullpen session on Wednesday and will throw at least one more session before going on a medical rehabilitation assignment. ... Astros RHP Matt Albers will miss the series while on paternity leave so that he could be with his wife, Tara, who gave birth on Tuesday to a boy, Mason James Albers, in Houston. ... Astros CF Dexter Fowler (stomach virus) returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday after missing five straight starts. He was used as a pinch hitter on Tuesday. ... The Blue Jays will start RHP R.A. Dickey (1-1, 4.63 ERA) in the finale of the three-game series while the Astros will start LHP Dallas Keuchel (0-1, 7.20).

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