TORONTO -- Brandon Morrow's struggles during the month of August continued with another disappointing outing on Sunday afternoon.
The California native battled control problems during the first two innings of the game and by the time he was settled in it was too late, with No. 1 starter David Price going strong on the mound for Tampa Bay.
Morrow allowed five runs in the first two frames while David Price struck out a franchise record 14 batters in the Blue Jays' 12-0 loss on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
"I think, initially, 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," Blue Jays acting manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Morrow put his team behind with the very first pitch of the game. Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings led off with a shot over the wall in left field for his seventh homer on the season and fourth against the Blue Jays.
The 27-year-old Morrow then found himself in more trouble during the second inning. With one on and two men out, he surrendered an RBI double to catcher John Jaso. That extended the inning and gave Tampa Bay an early two-run lead.
Rays shortstop Sean Rodriguez followed with a two-run homer into the second deck in left field. Tampa Bay then went back-to-back when Jennings recorded his second home run of the game.
It was the first time in Jennings' career he had a multi-homer game and the third time the feat had been accomplished by a Rays player this season.
"I left a curveball up to Jaso and then following that it was two fastballs that came back over and [I] missed my spot by a couple of feet," said Morrow, who is now 1-4 with a 5.58 ERA in August. "I was having trouble getting my fastball to the outside edge to right-handers, everything just kept kind of going back, running arm side, and out over the plate."
One positive that can be taken from the game is that Morrow managed to stay in the game until the sixth inning. With his team trailing early, he had an opportunity to work on a few things on the mound.
Morrow threw his changeup more often than normal and it's a secondary pitch that if perfected could become a lethal weapon for the right-hander with overpowering talent.
The downside for Morrow is that he has now allowed at least four runs in three of his past four outings and has lost four of five. Morrow's biggest problem recently has been a tendency to give up the long ball -- he has now surrendered five homers in his past two starts.
"Obviously I haven't been very good the last couple times and probably this whole month," Morrow said. "You have to make changes when things aren't going that well. So I got a chance to work on some things.
"Seems that they just go against me once I get into games. I just kind of had, maybe the wrong mindset in between, trying to change things up and then not really taking that into the game."
The early run support was more than enough for Price, who was dominant from start to finish for Tampa Bay. The 26-year-old recorded the first seven outs of the game via strikeout and had Blue Jays hitters off balance all afternoon.
Price entered play on Sunday having struck out a personal best 12 batters twice in his career. He equaled that mark in the fifth inning and in the seventh went on to set a new franchise high.
Toronto's Kelly Johnson struck out to lead off the seventh, which tied Price with Scott Kazmir and James Shields for the most in Rays' history. Two batters later, Price struck out Jose Molina for the second time to gain sole possession of first place.
Mike McCoy, who walked and stole second in the first inning, was the only Blue Jays player to reach scoring position against Price. Tampa Bay's lefty allowed just three hits and two walks during seven quality innings of work.
"David had a really good fastball early on and everything was working off of it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "They were really having a hard time catching up to the velocity early.
"Then he started mixing together stuff with good command. That's why he did what he did today. He was really, really good."
The Blue Jays have now lost four consecutive games and dropped to 1-5 on their current homestand. The recent woes can be attributed in part to a drop off at the plate as Toronto entered the game batting an American League worst .231 in August.
Blue Jays hitters struck out 18 times on Sunday afternoon, which equals the most in franchise history for a nine-inning game. Wakamatsu said all the blame doesn't lie with the hitters, though, as the pitching staff hasn't held up its end of the deal either.
"I think it goes hand in hand with the starting pitching and getting in ballgames," Wakamatsu said. "Playing this club and losing the first two and getting down 5-0 I think all of a sudden you start seeing guys trying to do more than they need to do."
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB b>. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.