The Toronto Blue Jays snapped the Atlanta Braves ' lengthy home winning streak. Now R.A. Dickey will try to end his career-long win drought at Turner Field.
Dickey will try to help Toronto take three of four in this split-venue series when he goes for his first victory in six starts at Atlanta on Thursday night.
The Blue Jays (23-30) had lost 12 of 19 on the road and eight of nine in Atlanta before winning 3-0 on Wednesday to snap the Braves' seven-game run at home.
Former Brave Melky Cabrera went 3 for 3 with a two-run single and four pitchers combined for the team's first road shutout of the season. Toronto can now win its first season series with Atlanta since 2008.
That might prove difficult if Dickey (4-6, 4.85 ERA) can't pitch better at Turner Field. He's gone 0-2 with a 6.67 ERA in five starts there and was especially bad in two such outings in 2012 despite winning the Cy Young Award, giving up 13 runs in 9 1-3 innings.
Dickey matched his loss total from last year after giving up six runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-5 defeat to Baltimore on Saturday.
"The journey is always ongoing but I certainly haven't felt like I did last year," he said. "There's some concrete reasons for that and there's some reasons I need to iron out in the bullpen in between outings."
Recurring neck and back soreness may have contributed to him yielding 11 homers in as many starts.
"My velocity hasn't been there this year so far, I haven't been able to go to the harder knuckleball," Dickey said.
The Braves (31-21) have hit an NL-leading 70 homers, but they had just four hits Wednesday in their fourth shutout at home this season. Freddie Freeman had two of those, including a triple, and is 7 for 13 in the series.
The first baseman went 6 for 9 with a homer and two doubles off Dickey last season.
The Braves, losers of three of four following an eight-game run, will give the ball to Mike Minor (6-2, 2.47) on Thursday. They could use a lengthy outing from him after starter Kris Medlen was removed after two innings Wednesday due to a contusion to his calf.
Minor has gone 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA in five May starts. He threw 7 1-3 innings of three-hit ball with 10 strikeouts in a 6-0 road win over the New York Mets on Saturday.
"He's a tough lefty," Freeman told the Braves' official website. "He goes out there, throws strikes, pounds the zone and he's not afraid to pitch to contact. We've got a great defense behind him. He's going to get his strikeouts, but he also knows we're going to make plays for him, too."
Minor has faced the Blue Jays once, a 5-1 home win June 21, 2011, in which he gave up one run in seven innings with eight strikeouts.
Cabrera, 11 for 20 in his career as a visitor at Atlanta, is 1 for 3 with a homer versus Minor.
Toronto will try to win three straight at Turner Field for the first time since 2006.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|May 28, 2013||Brett Lawrie||15-Day DL||Left ankle sprain|
|May 28, 2013||Brett Lawrie||Day-to-Day||Ankle sprain|
|May 19, 2013||Darren Oliver||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|May 11, 2013||Rajai Davis||15-Day DL||Strained oblique|
|May 10, 2013||Rajai Davis||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained oblique|
|May 08, 2013||J.A. Happ||60-Day DL||Head contusion|
|May 29, 2013||Kris Medlen||Day-to-Day||Left game - left upper calf contusion|
|May 18, 2013||Eric O'Flaherty||15-Day DL||Left elbow surgery - out for season|
|May 13, 2013||B.J. Upton||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left shoulder contusion|
|May 12, 2013||Jordan Walden||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|May 12, 2013||Jordan Walden||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|May 05, 2013||Juan Francisco||Day-to-Day||Sprained right ankle|
ATLANTA (AP) -- Fredi Gonzalez gave three struggling stars a chance to relax.
Fill-in starters Ramiro Pena , Jordan Schafer and Evan Gattis then showed the slumping regulars that hitting isn't so difficult.
Pena drove in four runs with three hits, including a run-scoring single in the sixth that gave Atlanta the lead, Mike Minor pitched seven strong innings and the Braves' makeshift lineup had a season-high 16 hits in an 11-3 win over R.A. Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.
Freddie Freeman and Reed Johnson homered, Gattis had three hits and Schafer had two hits, including a two-run single in the sixth.
"We are trying to do our job, you know," Pena said. "We want to play well also. I think we got great ABs and we produced."
Pena, Schafer and Gattis made the most of fill-in starts as Gonzalez rested three regulars hitting below .200: outfielders B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward and second baseman Dan Uggla .
Gonzalez wouldn't say after the game if he would hold out the regulars again when the Braves open a weekend series against the Washington Nationals on Friday night.
"We'll see," Gonzalez said. "The guys played well. One thing you always want to do is put your best team out there."
Minor (7-2) gave up six hits and three runs - two earned - with five strikeouts and no walks in winning his fourth straight decision.
Dickey (4-7) allowed 11 hits and six runs in six innings.
It was Dickey's fourth start allowing six or more runs this season, leaving his ERA at 5.18 one season after he won the NL Cy Young Award with the Mets.
Dickey said he gave up a lot of soft hits.
"I might have given up four hard-hit balls all night," Dickey said. "I mean, it was tough. It seemed like every ball off the bat would find a hole somewhere, or a little space in the outfield.
"This game's tough. It's hard. And you can't quit grinding it out, and you can't quit searching for the answers. I certainly won't. And I'll find it. I'll find it."
The Blue Jays scored three runs in the sixth to pull even at 3, but the Braves scored three runs off Dickey in the bottom of the inning. Pena's infield single drove in Gattis, who led off with a single. Schafer singled with two outs to drive in Chris Johnson , who reached on a fielder's choice grounder, and Pena.
Toronto manager John Gibbons said Dickey's velocity on his knuckleball is down.
"He's been battling that, trying to find it," Gibbons said. "He battles you out there. I know that's frustrating him."
One day after a 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays, the Braves made some lineup changes. Third baseman Juan Francisco , who was sharing time with Chris Johnson , was designated for assignment. Francisco was hitting .241 with five homers, 16 RBIs and 43 strikeouts in 108 at-bats.
The Braves have 10 days to trade, release or send Francisco outright to the minors.
Schafer, who hit leadoff and started in center field for Upton, had a first-inning double that bounced over third baseman Mark DeRosa . Schafer scored on Andrelton Simmons ' single to left.
Gattis, starting in left field, led off the second by slapping a single to right field. Gattis scored on a single to left by Pena, who started for Uggla.
Heyward, pinch-hitting in the seventh, reached on catcher's interference when his bat hit J.P. Arencibia's glove.
Freeman pushed the lead to 3-0 in the third with his two-out homer off Dickey. The homer came on the night fans received Freeman bobblehead dolls.
Toronto pulled even in the sixth. Dickey led off with an infield single and moved to second when Simmons misplayed Jose Bautista 's grounder for an error. Edwin Encarnacion drove in Dickey with a single to center field and DeRosa added a two-run double to right field.
Reed Johnson hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer off Todd Redmond in the eighth, capping the impressive show of depth on the Braves' roster.
"It's a deep team position-wise," Gonzalez said. "There are some days that the guys sitting on the bench may be better than the guys on the field and vice versa. You've got to take every opportunity and put guys out there."
Gonzalez remains confident in Upton, Uggla and Heyward.
"You've got to believe the back of the baseball cards, and they're good players," Gonzalez said. "It may not even be the end of June. It may be the middle of June or five days from now. Who knows? But those bench guys are playing well."
NOTES: The Braves selected the contract of LHP Alex Wood from Double-A Mississippi. Wood, a 2012 second-round pick from the University of Georgia, pitched the ninth, allowing one hit, in his major league debut. ... Atlanta improved to 22-3 when scoring first. ... The Braves open a series against NL East rival Washington on Friday night when Julio Teheran faces Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg . The Blue Jays' seven-game road trip continues at San Diego, when Chad Jenkins will face Padres RHP Jason Marquis .