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SEA@TOR: Millwood gives Mariners a quality start

TORONTO -- If it looked as if Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow could do just about anything he wanted Saturday against his former Mariners team, there was a good reason for that.

Morrow has always been able to throw hard, but this time he was in total control as well during six shutout innings as Toronto snapped Seattle's four-game winning streak with a 7-0 decision.

The 27-year-old gave up five hits, but didn't issue a walk while striking out nine. It was his 44th career game of six or more innings, but the first in which he didn't issue a base on balls.

"That slider is 89-90 mph and one of the hardest sliders you're going to see," Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan said after an 0-for-3 day with two strikeouts. "When he throws it where he wants, he pretty much gets the result he wants. That's what you saw with a lot of the right-handed strikeouts."

Morrow, drafted by the Mariners with the fifth pick in the first round in 2006, is now 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 19 innings over three starts against his former team. Seattle dealt him for closer Brandon League and Minor League outfielder Johermyn Chavez before the 2010 season.

It was a quiet loss for a Seattle team that had opened its 10-game road trip with four straight wins, including a come-from-behind 9-5 victory in 10 innings over the Blue Jays on Friday night.

Ichiro Suzuki and Kyle Seager each had two hits, with Seager back in the lineup at third base after sitting out the past three games in favor of Alex Liddi.

But after scoring 34 runs over its previous five games, Seattle suffered its fourth shutout of the season and struck out 13 times in falling to 11-11. The Mariners finished 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

With a mid-90s fastball and hard slider, Morrow doesn't need a lot more to be effective. But he mixed in a few quality off-speed pitches as well enroute to his season-high nine strikeouts.

"I think once you see guys two or three times through, especially when they get some guys on, to be able to slow them down a little bit, that's when I started using my changeup more," he said. "Seager singled on one, but I ended up striking out [Justin] Smoak on a couple changeups."

Veteran Kevin Millwood bounced back from a pair of rough starts to pitch seven strong innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on seven hits. But Toronto blew the game open with a grand slam by Edwin Encarnacion off reliever Hisashi Iwakuma in the eighth.

Prior to that, the Blue Jays had scored just three times in the third while taking advantage of a Seager error. Two of those were unearned after Seager couldn't handle a hard shot by Jose Bautista that skipped off his arm as Yunel Escobar scored from third with one out.

"That was a tough play," Millwood said. "You can't fault a guy for that. That ball was hit hard and you never know what it's going to do on this turf. It just happens."

Adam Lind then followed with a ground-rule double to left to plate another run and Encarnacion made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly, though the inning ended there when Lind was caught in a rundown.

Millwood lowered his ERA from 7.04 to 5.24, but fell to 0-2 after four starts.

"I felt good," said the 37-year-old. "I felt like all my pitches except for my changeup were working pretty well. I located pretty well. Just that one inning kind of got away a little, but I was still able to keep us in it and go deep into the game. I'm not satisfied by any means, but I definitely felt better about it."

Iwakuma, making just his second appearance, has now given up two home runs and five runs in five innings. But manager Eric Wedge went to the former Japanese starter after using all of his other relievers during Friday's extra-inning win.

Wedge credited Millwood for going deep enough so he could give the rest of his bullpen the day off, but acknowledged it's been difficult keeping Iwakuma sharp in his little-used long relief role.

"It is tough, especially with all the tight ballgames we've been playing because you've got guys you're going to go to in different roles," Wedge said. "We got him in there today. They hit him hard early, but he was able to settle down and pitch a little. Hopefully that's something he can work off of."

Iwakuma said through interpreter Daisuke Sekiba that he left an inside two-seam fastball over the plate to Encarnacion, who went 2-for-3 with a double, a home run and five RBIs. The designated hitter now leads the Blue Jays with six home runs and 19 RBIs.

The Blue Jays are now 9-2 against the Mariners at Rogers Centre dating back to 2009 going into Sunday's series finale. Comments