Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It's getting sticky for Dickey

Jays' prize knuckleballer 0-2 after blowout by Bosox

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TORONTO -- He's 0-2 with a lofty 8.44 earned-run average and opponents are hitting .326 against him. But R.A. Dickey feels he's very close to the form that made him the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner.

Will Middlebrooks homered three times and doubled as the Boston Red Sox hit knuckleballer Dickey hard early en route to a lopsided 13-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon.

"I think you try to draw from some of the past experiences and know that a day like today is the anomaly, not the norm," Dickey said. "I've traditionally gotten off to pretty slow starts in the past. I'm not sure why; that's just the way it has been."

Fortunately for Dickey, he doesn't have far to look. In April 2012, he surrendered eight earned runs over 4 1/3 innings in a 14-6 loss to Atlanta, his worst performance as a New York Met. The good news for the Jays, though, is Dickey posted a 20-6 record last season.

"Atlanta last year was maybe a tad worse than this one," Dickey said. "You have to understand with 33 starts, you have a handful you just have to throw out and hopefully the majority of them end up the way you want to."

Middlebrooks' two-run shot helped anchor a five-run first off Dickey as Boston (4-2) earned the rubber game of the series before 41,168 spectators at Rogers Centre.

Middlebrooks added to the fans' angst with solo blasts in the fifth and seventh innings for his first career three-homer contest, giving him four this season.

"I faced R.A. in spring training, so I kind of had an idea of what his movement was and his velocity, because he throws a lot harder than a lot of guys," Middlebrooks said. "I know certain counts, he likes to go to fastballs when he's not locating his knuckleball well, he tries to get ahead with the fastball, and that helped knowing that."

Daniel Nava, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Napoli also homered for Boston, which had just two hits in a 5-0 loss to Toronto on Saturday.

But the Red Sox tagged right-hander Dickey for eight runs -- seven earned -- on 10 hits (including two homers) over 4 2/3 innings. Dickey fanned five while walking two and often drawing his share of boos from the stands.

Dickey allowed five hits and four runs -- three earned -- four walks and four strikeouts over six innings in his Toronto debut, a 4-1 home loss to Cleveland on Tuesday.

Left-hander Jon Lester (2-0) allowed five hits over seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts and one hit batter to improve to 12-7 in 23 career starts against Toronto. He came into Sunday's game having held the Jays to a .204 batting average all-time and never was threatened in this one.

Right-hander Clayton Mortensen preserved the shutout, allowing two hits while fanning four over the final two innings.

Toronto right-hander Dave Bush surrendered five earned runs on five hits -- including four homers -- over three innings in relief of Dickey. Left-hander Brett Cecil pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, allowing no hits and one walk while fanning three.


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 8, 2013 C11

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