Molina homers, Blue Jays beat Reds 4-0 to keep Cincy winless in interleague play

CINCINNATI – Brandon Morrow threw everything he had at the NL’s most prolific lineup, one that was geared up to hit the hard stuff but couldn’t make its chances count.

Morrow bounced back from one of his worst starts on Saturday night by using every type of pitch he can throw, and Jose Molina doubled and homered, leading the Toronto Blue Jays to a 4-0 victory that kept the Cincinnati Reds winless in interleague play.

Morrow (3-4) gave up five hits in 6 2-3 innings, two of them by Jay Bruce. He threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 26 batters he faced, using his slower curve and change-up to complement the hard fastball and slider that are usually his best pitches.

“I got ahead with the curveball or the change-up,” Morrow said. “It wasn’t necessarily great results, but I put it in their heads that I’ve got those, too.”

He made a handful of runs stand up.

“When we scored, he went out and continued to put up zeros,” manager John Farrell said. “That’s a huge momentum keeper.”

Jose Bautista also had a pair of hits, including an RBI single off Edinson Volquez (5-7), who lost for the first time since he returned from a fine-tuning stint in the minors.

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Cincinnati fell to 0-5 against the American League this season. The Reds were swept in Cleveland last month.

“It’s like we take two steps forward and one back,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Now we’ve got to start moving forward tomorrow. The thing is, we’ve got to figure out these American League teams.”

The Blue Jays got their second combined shutout of the season – they also blanked Minnesota 2-0 on May 13. The Reds were shut out for the third time.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto of Toronto received the Lou Marsh Trophy on the field before the game, honouring him as Canada’s top athlete in 2010.

Votto won the National League’s MVP last season and led the Reds to their first division title and playoff appearance in 15 years. He grew up a fan of the Blue Jays, but is having a tough time against them, going 0 for 8 while getting the ball out of the infield only once.

It’s the first time Votto has failed to reach base in back-to-back games since August 2009.

He’s not the only part of the NL’s most prolific offence struggling against Blue Jays pitchers. Cincinnati has scored two runs in the series, both on homers.

Morrow wanted to rebound from his dreadful start a week earlier, when he allowed a career-high nine runs in only 4 1-3 innings of a 16-4 loss to Boston. Morrow left with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh. Jason Frasor got pinch-hitter Edgar Renteria to fly out.

The Blue Jays got a run in the third, but could have had more.

Yunel Escobar doubled to start the third. Corey Patterson pulled a drag bunt toward first, and Volquez fielded and threw wildly to first for an error that let Escobar round the bases. The ball bounced over the rolled-up tarp down the line, briefly disappeared behind it, then rolled out the far end.

Patterson thought the ball was dead, slowed on his way to third base and was tagged out. Farrell came onto the field to question the decision, which was upheld after a brief conference by the umpires.

Molina homered off the facing of the upper deck in left field to open the fourth. Rajai Davis then tripled and scored on Jayson Nix’s sacrifice fly. Bautista singled home a run in the fifth that made it 4-0, getting a ground ball through Cincinnati’s pronounced infield shift – three fielders between second and third.

Notes: Country music singer Marlee Scott of Edmonton, sang both national anthems. … The three pigeons that spent most of Friday night’s game walking around the infield didn’t return for the second game of the series … Toronto is 3-2 in interleague play. … Molina is 3 for 6 career off Volquez with a pair of homers. … Bruce snapped an 0-for-17 slump that matched the longest of his career. … Baker said RHP Homer Bailey, on the DL with a strained pitching shoulder, is expected to make at least one more rehab start. He’s 0-1 with a 7.36 earned-run average in two starts.

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