BALTIMORE - When the Baltimore Orioles faced R.A. Dickey last June, the team was overmatched. The right-handed knuckleballer, then with the New York Mets, threw a complete game one-hitter and struck out 13.
The Orioles may now have to face Dickey numerous times a season after he was traded to Toronto in the offseason. On Tuesday, the Orioles didn't have the same trouble as the last time in their first battle against the hurler in 2013.
Baltimore struck for four runs in the second inning against Dickey, beating the Blue Jays 4-3 before 13,272 fans at Camden Yards.
"There's no magic approach to take to those guys," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We were fortunate tonight offensively because, like I said, we didn't square some balls up but we walked and there wasn't a panic. I think we all knew what was ahead of us."
Dickey (2-3) threw 32 pitches in the second as the Orioles (12-8) batted around. Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters led off the inning with three straight singles, with Wieters' scoring Jones.
Two batters later, Ryan Flaherty walked to load the bases and was followed by an RBI sacrifice fly from Nolan Reimold. After Nate McLouth walked to reload the bases, Manny Machado drilled a ball past Toronto shortstop Munenori Kawasaki for a single, driving in two runs and giving Baltimore an early 4-0 lead.
"Tough pitcher, that ball is real hard to hit," Machado said. "But we did a great job as a team. Key hits in those key situations."
Wieters added: "Anytime you put a big inning together it helps your chances of winning, but especially off a guy who, if his knuckleball's going, could be a tough night."
For 5 2-3 innings, Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez (2-1) was brilliant. He gave up only three hits and shut out the Jays during that stretch.
In the sixth inning, Gonzalez ran into trouble as Toronto (8-13) battled back. He walked back-to-back batters with two outs and then gave up a three-run blast to Edwin Encarnacion. The next batter, Melky Cabrera, tripled to right-center.
Gonzalez was able to get out of the inning, however, by getting Brett Lawrie to fly out to left.
"We got a well-pitched game," Showalter said. "In order to compete against [Dickey] you've got to have a well-pitched game. We got that from Miggy."Gonzalez said he was pleased with the outing, but knows it could've been better.
"I felt good through those five innings," Gonzalez said. "Sixth inning wasn't all nice, but we've got to eliminate those walks and we'll be fine."
After struggling the first two innings, Dickey settled down. He gave up only one hit after the second, a double by Machado in the fifth.
Dickey walked five and threw a season-high 118 pitches.
Baltimore's bullpen was able to preserve the one-run lead. Brian Matusz pitched a perfect seventh inning, striking out two. In the eighth, Matusz walked Mark DeRosa and then was replaced by Pedro Strop.
After a sacrifice bunt and groundball out, Strop walked Encarnacion with two outs. Strop worked out of the jam by striking out Cabrera looking to end the inning.
It was Strop's second straight scoreless outing after giving up four runs over his previous two.
Jim Johnson collected his eighth save despite allowing the tying run to get on base with two outs. The Orioles have now won 100 straight games when leading after the seventh inning and improved to 4-3 in one-run games.
"Guys are throwing the ball well in the bullpen, getting put in good opportunities and doing what they're supposed to do," Johnson said. "It's all of us."
Baltimore clinched its third straight series win and their fourth against AL East opponents, as it won its ninth game out of the last 13.
"We know who we have to beat," Johnson said. "The importance is winning your division. When we play these guys, there's a lot of good teams and we know each other and we've got to win as many as we can."