TORONTO – R.A. Dickey had his strongest performance of the season and the Toronto Blue Jays used their speed and some sloppy Oakland A’s defence to win 5-2 Saturday, their fifth straight victory.
The veteran knuckleballer gave up two runs and five hits over 8-1/3 innings to run his record to 5-4.
Dickey, who had gone at least six innings in his previous six starts but not made it out of the seventh, cruised through eight innings on Saturday, retiring 19 of 21 hitters he faced at one stretch. He received a standing ovation from 29,372 fans at Rogers Centre when he left with one out and two on in the ninth.
But it didn’t end without hometown nervousness as Oakland, a Major League-best 30-19, made it interesting in their final at bat.
After Dickey was pulled, Dustin McGowan gave up a single to Yoenis Cespedes, his third hit of the day, and the A’s had the tying run at the plate. But Brett Cecil got Jed Lowrie on a sacrifice fly and struck Alberto Callaspo for his third save.
Brett Lawrie had a home run for the Blue Jays while Melky Cabrera had two hits and two RBIs, and Jose Reyes had a pair of hits as Toronto (28-22) won for the 10th time in their last 12 ball games.
The Blue Jays remain in first place in the American League East. The last time the Blue Jays were alone in first place this late in the season was July 6, 2000.
The visitors opened the scoring in the second inning as Oakland’s first base-runner circled them. Cespedes crushed a 1-0 fastball from Dickey to straightaway centre-field for a solo home run.
The Blue Jays tied it up in the third. Anthony Gose, who reached on a fielder’s choice, was moving first to third on Cabrera’s two-out, opposite field single when left-fielder Craig Gentry bobbled the ball, allowing the fleet-footed Gose to fly around third and slide into the plate ahead of the throw.
Toronto took the lead for good with three runs in the fifth.
Lawrie led off the inning by hitting an 0-2 curveball into the Blue Jays bullpen to make it 2-1. For Lawrie, who came into Saturday batting .300 over the previous 23 games, it was his eighth home run.
The Blue Jays then added some insurance, again courtesy of speed and shoddy defence by the A’s.
Gose slapped a sharp single the other way with one-out and moved up to third on a single by Reyes. After a wild pitch advanced Reyes to second, Cabrera hit a ground ball to first baseman Brandon Moss, who booted it as Gose was coming in to score and then flipped it past a covering Chavez, which allowed Reyes to scamper home, punctuating the run with a run head-first slide, making it 4-1.
Reyes repeated the feat in the seventh to put the Blue Jays up 5-1.
After a lead-off double, he scored all the way from second when Cabrera hit a routine groundball to shortstop but the A’s made the play too slowly, again allowing Reyes to slide across home plate head-first before Moss could throw him out.
© The Canadian Press, 2014