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CLE@TOR: Morrow fans nine over five innings

TORONTO -- Brandon Morrow's early-season struggles continued on Tuesday night, despite displaying -- at times -- an overpowering arsenal of pitches on the mound.

Morrow allowed a season-high six earned runs while striking out nine, but he was also the victim of some sloppy defense in the field against Cleveland.

The end result for Morrow was just five innings of work as the Blue Jays' winning streak was snapped at four games with a 6-3 loss to the Indians in front of 14,556 fans at Rogers Centre.

"Dominating type stuff but this is a very good fastball hitting team," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "I thought they did a good job staying inside for some breaking balls for some doubles early on.

"He was able to get some key strikeouts to keep further damage from happening, but in the fifth inning he got into a couple of fastball counts ... and that was as it turned out the difference in this one tonight."

Morrow's six earned runs mark the most he had surrendered in a start since May 21, 2010, against Arizona.

Toronto's No. 2 starter allowed at least one baserunner in every inning he pitched. He also surrendered more than six hits for just the second time in his past 13 starts.

Morrow's problems weren't all his own doing, but they began in the top of the second. He surrendered back-to-back doubles to Carlos Santana and Grady Sizemore to open the frame, which gave Cleveland an early 1-0 lead.

The following inning, Morrow (2-3) allowed a leadoff triple to Indians designated hitter Michael Brantley, who would later score on an RBI single by Asdrubal Cabrera. Morrow managed to get through the fourth unscathed, only to run into more trouble in the fifth.

Travis Buck earned a two-out walk and then tried to score on a double to the right-field corner by Santana. Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista picked up the ball and fired it into second baseman Aaron Hill.

The relay throw then beat Buck to home plate by a good distance, but the ball bounced off J.P. Arencibia's glove. The run scored and Morrow was forced to keep pitching. Sizemore followed with his second RBI double of the night, and came around to score on an Orlando Cabrera single.

"If he catches the ball, he's likely out at home plate," Farrell said. "I thought the throw beat him on time, but where the location was when he received, it was basically on his right hip and a tough spot to receive or catch the ball. But if he catches it we might be looking at a different story here tonight."

Morrow's record now drops to 2-3 with a 5.11 ERA in nine starts this season. That's not much different then his 2010 campaign, when he was 2-3 with a 6.69 ERA through seven outings.

The native of California went 8-4 with a 3.80 ERA in his final 19 starts in 2010, which became his breakout season in the Major Leagues. Those numbers don't mean Morrow is going to be any less frustrated about the way things have started this year, though.

"Just the flip of the coin hasn't been going my way so far this year," Morrow said.

"I think I'm making good pitches, my stuff has been there. They're not making errors behind me, it just seems that every time they put the ball into play, it gets over [the] shortstop's head or through a hole. It wears on you."

Toronto's offense entered Tuesday night riding its best overall production of the season. The club had scored 33 runs over its past three games.

That momentum didn't carry over against Indians right-hander Mitch Talbot. The Blue Jays (28-27) were held in check over the first six innings of the game and didn't score until Bautista and Juan Rivera hit back-to-back RBI singles in the bottom of the seventh.

Talbot (2-1) allowed just one earned run on six hits while striking out three. He threw 59 of his 99 pitches for strikes and finished his outing with three walks. Talbot also picked up his first win since April 11. He missed six weeks during that time with a right elbow strain.

The native of Utah was helped out by a couple of key defensive plays in the field. The most spectacular was a diving play by first baseman Matt LaPorta that robbed Eric Thames of a sure double with runners on first and second and just one out in the fourth inning.

"I probably would've given up a few runs if the guys at the corners, [Jack] Hannahan and LaPorta, didn't make a couple plays," Talbot said. "I think that helped a lot."

The Blue Jays finish the month of May with a 15-13 record. They still have a chance to win their second consecutive series when they close out a three-game set against Cleveland on Wednesday. Comments