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Brian McCann homers twice as Atlanta Braves outslug Toronto Blue Jays 7-6

05/28/2013 04:09 EDT | Updated 07/28/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - It didn't take long to realize there was something wrong with Brandon Morrow.

His velocity was down, his slider wasn't working and the opposing team was taking advantage. Through two laborious innings Morrow was tagged for four runs, two earned, before the Toronto Blue Jays yanked their starting pitcher.

The Braves then went to work on Toronto's bullpen, which gave up three home runs. Brian McCann hit a pair of homers — including a tiebreaking solo shot in the 10th inning — as Atlanta edged the Blue Jays 7-6 on Tuesday afternoon.

Morrow said his right forearm has been sore since his last appearance. There's no pain, just a lingering discomfort that hampered him on the mound.

"It wasn't explosive, the ball wasn't coming out of my hand really well," he said. "It was just like there wasn't anything in there.

Toronto's troubles started with Morrow, who initially felt the soreness last week against Baltimore. He said it affected his grip on the ball.

"Like I couldn't let it go," he said. "Maybe on the slider it was probably the worst just because you've got to get on top of that ball a little bit more.

"Thought my splits and curveballs were all right. When I was out there, just trying to stay in the middle of the plate with the fastballs and change speeds."

Morrow's day was done after 47 mostly off-speed pitches. His fastball has averaged 93.6 miles per hour this season according to FanGraphs, but dipped during the game to 91.

Morrow said he plans to let the forearm rest and still expects to make his next start Sunday in San Diego.

With Morrow gone, the Blue Jays turned to reliever Ramon Ortiz for three innings. Ortiz held on until giving up back-to-back homers by Evan Gattis and McCann that gave Atlanta a 6-4 lead.

The bullpen rebounded for Toronto (22-30) with scoreless innings from Aaron Loup, Brett Cecil and Steve Delabar. But in the 10th inning, McCann turned on the second pitch from Thad Weber (0-1) for his first multi-homer game of the season and the ninth of his career.

After the game, Weber was optioned to triple-A Buffalo, Ortiz was designated for assignment and the team announced closer Casey Janssen had been held out of the game with mild soreness in his shoulder.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was left shaking his head at the bad luck that continues to haunt his team.

"It's part of baseball," said Gibbons. "You deal with it. Everybody's trying to win the game. Everybody you got on your team, you have them here for a reason. You think they can play, they can help you. So just go with whatever you got."

Jordan Schafer also homered for the National League East-leading Braves (31-20) and closer Craig Kimbrel worked the 10th inning for his 16th save.

"It's the way we're built," said McCann. "We hit a lot of home runs and we're going to strike out. But you put up seven runs, there's nothing bad about that at all."

Braves starter Paul Maholm allowed five runs on 10 hits over six innings of work and reliever Cory Gearrin (2-1) picked up the win.

Jose Bautista's 12th homer of the year gave the Blue Jays a 5-4 lead in the fourth to the delight of the 45,224 fans at Rogers Centre, many of whom were students bussed in for the matinee. Bautista recovered after falling back to avoid a Maholm pitch that whistled by his head before sending a full-count offering into the left-field stands.

In the seventh, Toronto tied the game at six on a double by J.P. Arencibia that scored Bautista, and the bullpen held firm until the extra inning.

It was the Blue Jays' fielding that looked atrocious during a busy opening frame. Braves centre-fielder Schafer, who went hitless at the bottom of the batting order Monday, got things started with a leadoff double and moved to third on a single by Andrelton Simmons.

Morrow struck out Jason Heyward but Freddie Freeman doubled on the next at-bat, scoring Schafer. Simmons also scored on the play after Bautista's throw to third from right field sailed over Mark DeRosa for an error.

Another error cost Toronto a run before Atlanta's inning was over.

McCann hit a routine grounder to the first-base side but Edwin Encarnacion lobbed the ball over Morrow as the pitcher was running to first. That allowed Freeman to score, giving the Braves a 3-0 lead.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez revelled in playing in the American League where he could put Gattis in as a designated hitter.

"That big three there of Freeman and Gattis and Mac did a hell of a job for us, kept us in the game," he said.

The Jays replied with four runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Bautista singled off Maholm then scored on a hard double by Encarnacion that bounced off the centre-field wall.

The Braves also made a costly miscue in the first after Arencibia hit what looked to be an easy pop-up. Heyward and Freeman's miscommunication allowed the ball to drop between them and Arencibia moved to second.

On the next at-bat, DeRosa made them pay with a ground-rule double that scored Encarnacion and Arencibia. DeRosa then scored on a single by Colby Rasmus on the fifth hit of the inning to give the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead.

The Braves tied the game in the second. Schafer duelled Morrow for eight pitches before cracking the ninth over the right-centre wall to tie the game.

Notes: Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie remains day to day after spraining his left ankle sliding into second base Monday. Gibbons said the team may need to add an extra position player if Lawrie remains out Wednesday for the start of the Jays' two-game series in Atlanta. Gibbons added they would not move Encarnacion to third, despite the slugger's past experience at the position. ... Right-hander Esmil Rogers (1-2), who has only pitched out of the bullpen so far this season, gets the start Wednesday for Toronto. He'll face Braves righty Kris Medlen (1-5).

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