DETROIT (AP) — For the first time since last summer, R.A. Dickey won consecutive starts.
On a day when Dickey couldn’t consistently do anything with his knuckleball, his Toronto teammates scored seven runs in the first five innings Wednesday in a 7-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
“That was a gift,” he said. “I’m not sure I can remember the last time I had that little on the knuckleball, but the guys gave me enough support that I was able to work things out.”
Dickey (4-6) allowed two runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. Combined with Friday’s victory at Boston, he won back-to-back outings for the first time since Aug. 28 against Detroit and Sept. 2 versus Cleveland.
“Two runs in 5 1/3 innings isn’t great, but it is better than that could have easily gone,” he said. “I really had to dig deep into my reservoir of experience today. I was throwing a bunch of curveballs, and I was changing speeds on the knuckleball more than I’ve ever done — just trying to get through the game.”
Josh Donaldson made that a lot easier. In the first inning, he hit what would have normally been a routine grounder to second, but Ian Kinsler was shifted to the third-base side of the bag, so it went for a single.
Donaldson scored on Justin Smoak’s homer, then homered and tripled in his next two at-bats.
“I’d been working really hard with Jake on taking the inside path to balls against the shift,” he said, referring to hitting coach Brook Jacoby. “In the first inning, I got a pitch that I could roll through the gap, and that changed the way they defended me and pitched to me.”
Kevin Pillar added a two-run triple as Toronto stopped Detroit’s five-game winning streak.
“That was a nice present — a lot of offense,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said on his 55th birthday. “Josh has been scuffling a little, but he’s the MVP for a reason. He’s one of the elite players in this game.”
Donaldson needed a double for the cycle, but grounded out in the seventh and was on deck when the Blue Jays made their last out in the ninth.
“I think about 10 people reminded me that I only needed a double,” Donaldson said. “But getting a hit in the majors is hard enough without trying to hit a double.”
Jordan Zimmermann (8-3) gave up seven runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings — including two triples and two homers. He has allowed seven or more runs twice in his last four outings, and his ERA has risen to 3.30 from 1.10 on May 6.
“I was pretty bad today,” Zimmermann said. “This is a team that takes some big swings, and if you leave stuff over the middle you’re going to get hurt.”
Nick Castellanos hit his 11th homer for the Tigers.
Smoak and Castellanos had two-run homers in the first, and Donaldson’s three-run homer put Toronto ahead for good in the third. Detroit put runners at the corners with one out when Ezequiel Carrera grounded into a 3-6-2 double play started by Jose Iglesias.
Zimmermann couldn’t get out of the fifth, when Donaldson and Pillar tripled.
Detroit got a runner to third with one out in the seventh, but Jesse Chavez came in to strike out James McCann and Andrew Romine. Detroit also strained two runners in the eighth.
Blue Jays: SS Troy Tulowitzki (quadriceps) is scheduled to report to extended spring training this weekend. Toronto manager John Gibbons expects him to be activated when eligible Monday.
Tigers: CF Cameron Maybin was out of the starting lineup for a second straight day with soreness in his left wrist. Maybin broke the wrist in spring training and has been bothered by occasional pain. Ausmus said after the game that Maybin, who pinch ran on Tuesday, got a cortisone shot on Monday night and is expected to play Friday in New York.
Tigers DH Victor Martinez got the day off after going 0 for 3 with three strikeouts for the first time in his big league career. The move also allowed Brad Ausmus to shift Miguel Cabrera to DH. Andrew Romine played first base and Justin Upton got a rare home start in centerfield.
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (5-2, 4.82 starts Thursday’s opener of a four-game series against visiting Baltimore and RHP Tyler Wilson (2-5, 4.39).
Tigers: RHP Mike Pelfrey (1-5, 4.76) is to start Friday’s series opener at the New York Yankees, who go with LHP CC Sabathia (3-4, 2.58).