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Jays avoid sweep

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DETROIT—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 in a 7-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers yesterday afternoon.

“That was a gift,” Dickey 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 last 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,” Dickey noted.

“I really had to dig deep into my reservoir of experience today,” he added.

“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 normally would have 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 later 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,” Donaldson 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 snappped Detroit’s five-game winning streak.

“That was a nice present—a lot of offence,” Jays’ manager John Gibbons said on his 55th birthday.

“Josh has been scuffling a little but he’s the MVP for a reason,” Gibbons added.

“He’s one of the elite players in this game.”

Donaldson needed a double for the cycle, but grounded out in the seventh and then was on deck when the 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.”

Elsewhere in the AL, Baltimore beat Kansas City 4-0, New York doubled L.A. 12-6, Houston downed Texas 3-1, and Seattle blanked Cleveland 5-0.

Over in the NL, Chicago dumped Philadelphia 8-1, Atlanta doubled San Diego 4-2, New York topped Pittsburgh 6-5 (10 innings), St. Louis beat Cincinnati 12-7, and Colorado shaded L.A. 1-0.

Minnesota topped Miami 7-5, Tampa Bay doubled Arizona 6-3, Milwaukee blanked Oakland 4-0, Washington dumped the Chicago White Sox 11-4, and San Francisco edged Boston 2-1 in interleague play.

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