Morrow's flawed masterpiece

TORONTO - Brandon Morrow wasn't about to hang his head after coming within inches of a no-hitter. The Blue Jays pitcher still tossed his first shutout - first complete game, in fact - and struck out a career-high 17 batters.

“Those things combined were more than enough to overcome the feeling of the missed no-hitter,” said Morrow, who allowed only Evan Longoria’s single with two outs in the ninth inning of a 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday. “That would have been a great feat, but I’ll start at a complete-game, one-hit shutout with 17 strikeouts.”

Longoria said that Morrow deserved the no-hitter, with the way he was mixing a devastating breaking pitch and a mid-90s fastball to plow through the Rays’ batting order.

“He was putting guys away better than anybody I’ve ever seen,” Longoria said.

The three-game sweep was crippling for the Rays, who have lost a season-high five straight after briefly moving ahead of the New York Yankees in the AL East earlier in the week.

The crowd of 22,313 gave Morrow a standing ovation as he took the mound in the ninth.

Jason Bartlett flied out to center, Ben Zobrist walked on four pitches and Carl Crawford popped out to bring up Longoria, who took a shaky swing at a 1-1 pitch and hit a grounder the other way. Second baseman Aaron Hill scooted to his left and made a dive as the ball took its third hop, and it fell out of his glove and trickled away as he hit the ground.

It wasn’t the first flirtation with a no-hitter for Morrow, who was traded last December from Seattle to Toronto. With the Mariners in September 2008, he went 72/3 innings before allowing a hit in a 3-1 victory over the New York Yankees.