Jays sweep four from K.C.

Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista (right) celebrates the club's win against the Royals with third...

Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista (right) celebrates the club's win against the Royals with third baseman Brett Lawrie and first baseman Adam Lind (left) at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Miss., April 23, 2012. (DAVE KAUP/Reuters)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:44 AM ET

KANSAS CITY - Brandon Morrow walked a tightrope for the better part of seven innings Monday but his Blue Jays teammates provided a secure safety net to give him his first victory of the year and a four-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals.

Kelly Johnson and Jose Bautista each hit home runs and Morrow made some big pitches under pressure on the way to a 4-1 victory, sending the hard-luck Royals to their 11th straight loss and 10th in a row at home.

Eric Hosmer’s opposite field home run in the second inning was the only blemish in Morrow’s evening, though the Jays righthander spent much of the game just one bad pitch away from disaster.

Johnson homered in the first inning and made a run-saving defensive play to end the Kansas City second. He also walked twice and scored ahead of Bautista’s third home run of the season in the sixth. In all, the Jays made 12 double plays in the series and Johnson was in on most of them.

Brett Lawrie scored Toronto’s other run after he led off the ninth with a triple, scoring on a Rajai Davis single.

Morrow worked 62/3 innings, allowed just the one run on seven hits and a walk.

“Brandon did an outstanding job from the third inning on, pitching out of trouble,” said manager John Farrell. He really locked in his stuff and used his curveball more frequently tonight.”

Luis Perez worked a clean 11/3 innings and Francisco Cordero took out the Royals in the ninth for his second save.

It was the first four-game sweep for the Jays since May of 2010 when they beat the White Sox four in a row at Rogers Centre.

After Johnson gave Toronto a brief 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Hosmer’s opposite field homer — the seventh allowed by Morrow this season — tied the score leading off the second.

From there, Morrow walked a tight rope right through the fifth inning, flirting with disaster without giving in. Three times in that stretch the Royals had the go-ahead run at third base with less than two outs and all three times Morrow wriggled free.

After the Hosmer homer, Mike Moustakas hit a one-out double, then went to third on a passed ball. Morrow then got Brayan Pena to strike out for the second out before Johnson made a spectacular defensive gem with a backhand scoop of Mitch Maier’s grounder, flipping to Lind for the out.

“I thought he was going to be safe, actually,” said Johnson. “So I was more worried about not flipping it over (Lind’s) head and making it worse.”

In the third, Alcides Escobar doubled and was sacrificed to third. Alex Gordon struck out before Billy Butler grounded out to Lawrie at third, stranding Escobar.

In the fifth Pena led off with another double but was cut down at third by Morrow on a poor sacrifice attempt by Maier. After Alcides Escobar’s single put runners at first and third, Chris Getz popped up and Gordon hit a harmless inning-ending fly to centre.

“It didn’t just seem like there were guys on the whole time. There WERE guys on the whole time,” said Morrow. “That’s why I worked on those offspeed pitches all spring. They were huge for me tonight. I had good command of them and got ahead a few times and kept them off balance.”

In the top of the sixth, the Jays snapped the deadlock. After Johnson walked for the seventh time in his last 12 plate appearances, Bautista connected with a Chen offering and scraped it over the left field wall for a home run to give Morrow a two-run cushion.

“Kelly does a great job of getting on base,” said Farrell. “You might look at the batting average and ask: ‘Is he a productive player?’ Well, he is. We’ll live with some strikeouts but he’s got the ability to drive the ball out of the park. And the defence he showed in this series had really solidified the middle of our infield.”

In the sixth, the Royals once again put a runner in scoring position with less than two outs when Morrow fielded Hosmer’s one-out bunt but threw wildly at first. Hosmer moved up to second on the error but Morrow bore down and got Jeff Francoeur to fly out to centre and then induced a Moustakas grounder to short to end yet another threat.

After he issued a two-out walk to Alcides Escobar, Morrow was given the rest of the night off as Farrell handed the ball to lefty Luis Perez.

“When he needed to step on it and bear down in those tight situations, he had plenty of fuel left in his tank. He did have to work out of three jams so that’s why with two outs in the seventh, it was time to make a move.”

Getz greeted Perez with a double, the first hit off Perez this year by a lefthanded batter, to once again put runners at second and third but Perez got Gordon to ground out to end the inning.


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