TORONTO (AP) — A rare chance to pitch with a lead gave R.A. Dickey the opportunity to be more than just a knuckleballer.
Russell Martin had three hits and two RBIs, Dickey pitched 6 2/3 innings for his first home win since July 10 and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Angels 7-2 on Tuesday night.
Toronto remained tied with Boston for first place in the AL East. The Red Sox beat Tampa Bay 2-1.
Dickey had received eight total runs of support in his previous five starts, losing three. His teammates gave him six runs to work with Tuesday, which he appreciated.
“Always great pitching with the lead,” Dickey said. “You can take some little risks that you might not normally take. Threw a lot of good changeups tonight, good sinkers down in the zone. I actually had good conventional stuff tonight and that helped me through some innings when I didn’t have a great knuckleball.”
Dickey (9-13) came in 2-8 with a 5.57 ERA in 13 home starts but held the last-place Angels in check, allowing two runs and six hits.
Manager John Gibbons said Dickey was “fantastic” after giving up a two-run homer to Angels rookie Nick Buss in the second.
“Then he kind of put it in cruise control,” Gibbons said.
Martin had an RBI single in the first, drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk in the third, singled and scored in the fifth, and doubled over the head of center fielder Mike Trout in the seventh. Martin is 12 for 27 with nine RBIs in his past five games.
“He’s smoking hot right now,” Gibbons said.
Michael Saunders hit his 21st home run, a solo shot off A.J. Achter in the eighth, and Edwin Encarnacion and Darwin Barney each reached base three times as the Blue Jays won their fifth straight over the Angels. Toronto has outscored Los Angeles 51-16 in that span.
“Down the stretch every game is important,” Barney said. “I don’t think we’re taking anyone lightly.”
Buss hit his first major league home run, but Los Angeles lost for the fourth time in six games. The Angels have lost 15 of 18 overall.
“He looks very comfortable at the plate,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Buss. “He’s certainly not overmatched. He’s hitting the ball hard. He looks like he belongs here.”
The Angels lost their 11th straight road game, their longest such skid since a 14-game streak in 1969.
Trailing 2-1, Toronto loaded the bases with no outs against left-hander Tyler Skaggs in the third. Barney scored the tying run when Martin walked and Encarnacion put the Blue Jays in front by scoring on Troy Tulowitzki’s double play groundout.
Skaggs (1-3) allowed four runs and four hits in four-plus innings and is winless in five starts. His five walks were a season-worst.
“Unfortunately, kind of the same stuff we’ve seen the last couple of starts,” Scioscia said. “Whether it’s a release point issue, whether it’s a mechanical adjustment or whatever it is, he’s a hair off right now and he’s not able to make the pitches he needs to.”
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Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista (left knee) is expected be activated off the 15-day DL as soon as he is eligible on Thursday. Gibbons said Bautista will be used at DH often to protect his knee.
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Josh Donaldson was caught stealing in the fifth, snapping a streak of 23 consecutive successful attempts. He hadn’t been caught stealing since June 3, 2013, with Oakland.
Blue Jays: 2B Devon Travis was not available after getting a cortisone injection in his sore right ring finger. Barney started in his place. … OF Kevin Pillar (sprained left thumb) was activated off the 15-day DL and started in center field. RHP Ryan Tepera was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to clear a spot for Pillar.
Angels: RHP Matt Shoemaker (7-13, 4.14) is 1-1 with an 8.38 ERA in two career games against Toronto.
Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (7-5, 3.20) allowed a season-high five earned runs against the Yankees on Aug. 16. It was the third time in 21 starts this season Estrada has allowed more than three earned runs.
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