Though their pitching staff has played a key role in a lengthy winning streak, the Toronto Blue Jays figure to be tested by the powerful Baltimore Orioles .
R.A. Dickey looks for his second win during the run as the host Blue Jays go for their ninth straight victory Friday night against heavy hitting Baltimore.
Toronto starters have posted a 1.18 ERA in the last seven games, while the bullpen has gone 24 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. Reliever Brett Cecil has retired 38 batters without giving up a hit, the longest streak in team history.
The Blue Jays, who have their longest win streak since a 10-game run in 2008, beat Colorado 5-2 on Wednesday.
"I can't pinpoint why everything is clicking, but we're getting a big hit, getting a big pitch when we need to, guys are playing great defense behind us," winning pitcher Mark Buehrle said. "I don't know what's happening, but hopefully (we) continue it as long as we can."
Though last in the AL East, the Blue Jays (35-36) are beginning a 10-game stretch against division opponents.
Dickey (6-8, 4.90 ERA) looks to keep the win streak alive after allowing 10 runners but limiting Texas to one run over 5 2-3 innings in a 6-1 win Saturday."Even when he's not at his best, he competes," manager John Gibbons said. "He battled, got out of some jams."
Dickey, though, is 3-4 with a 5.61 ERA in seven home starts after giving up six runs and nine hits - two homers - over 6 2-3 innings of a 6-5 loss to Baltimore on May 25.
Adam Jones homered off him in that contest and went 7 for 18 with four home runs to help Baltimore (42-31) split the four-game series.
The Orioles, 22-16 on the road, scored 27 runs and hit 10 homers in that set. They rank at or near the top of the major leagues with 98 home runs, a .274 batting average and 360 runs.
Baltimore seeks its third straight win and ninth in 12 games after scoring 18 times and hitting five homers in its last two.
First baseman Chris Davis went 6 for 14 with two homers in the May series at Toronto. He leads the majors with 26 home runs after hitting two in a 13-3 victory at Detroit on Wednesday."We're doing a lot of things right," said Davis, 2 for 6 with a double against Dickey this season.
Dickey will try to avoid his third loss of the season to the Orioles, having given up 10 runs over 12 2-3 innings in his two starts against them.
He'll be opposed by fellow right-hander Jason Hammel (7-4, 5.24), who is 0-2 with a 6.32 ERA in three starts this month. Hammel was scheduled to start Tuesday but was unable to pitch against the Tigers due to a stomach virus.
He's 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three career starts in Toronto, giving up a career-worst four homers there in a 4-1 loss May 30, 2012.
Melky Cabrera has homered in his past two at-bats against Hammel, last facing him in 2011.
Adam Lind is 12 for 24 with a homer and two doubles versus the Orioles this season, though he's 1 for 8 lifetime against Hammel.
|June 17, 2013||Jason Hammel||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|June 06, 2013||Steve Johnson||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|May 24, 2013||Pedro Strop||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|May 24, 2013||Pedro Strop||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|May 13, 2013||Wei-Yin Chen||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|May 12, 2013||Nolan Reimold||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|June 03, 2013||Ramon Ortiz||15-Day DL||Right elbow strain|
|June 02, 2013||Ramon Ortiz||Day-to-Day||Left game - right elbow|
|June 01, 2013||Brandon Morrow||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|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|
TORONTO (AP) -- Add a new chapter to Munenori Kawasaki 's remarkable run.
Kawasaki hit his first career home run, a game-tying shot in the seventh inning, Rajai Davis singled home the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Toronto Blue Jays rallied for their ninth straight win, 7-6 over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
"The legend grows, the Kawasaki legend grows, and rightfully so," Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey said.
Kawasaki went 2 for 4 with three RBIs. Eight of his 17 RBIs this season have come against the Orioles: he also beat them with a two-run double in the ninth inning of a 6-5 win on May 26.
"He's been doing that all year," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's done a tremendous job for us."
Kawasaki has been playing shortstop for Toronto in the absence of Jose Reyes , who's been out since April 13 with a sprained left ankle. Reyes is currently rehabbing with Triple-A Buffalo and could be back Monday.
But Kawasaki's continued heroics might just make him indispensable.
"Nobody has said that Kawasaki was going down," Gibbons said. "People might assume that but we don't know what's going to happen, to be honest."
Casey Janssen (2-0) worked one inning for the win while Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion both homered for the Blue Jays, who reached .500 for the first time since July 30, 2012.
"We're starting to become family and it's showing," Dickey said.
Toronto has won 13 of its past 16 and has gone 26-15 since May 2, when they were a season-worst 10-21.
"We've definitely come back to life, that's for sure," Gibbons said. "We're riding a nice high right now."
Facing Orioles reliever Brian Matusz (2-1), Maicer Izturis singled to begin the ninth and moved to second on Josh Thole 's sacrifice. Pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa was intentionally walked to bring up Kawasaki. With the crowd of 35,472 chanting his name, Kawasaki moved up both runners with a grounder.
"Unbelievable," Kawasaki said of the ovation. "I was nervous."
Pedro Strop came on to face Davis, who lined a single over the head of shortstop J.J. Hardy. Davis' teammates poured out of the dugout in celebration, mobbing him and tearing off his jersey.
"We've got to give credit to Kawasaki," Davis said. "He had some big hits with men on base. My hit doesn't even happen without those big hits."
Chris Davis hit his major league leading 27th home run for the Orioles, who also got homers from Hardy and Ryan Flaherty .
Toronto took an early lead when Lind hit a two-run homer off Jason Hammel in the first, his 10th. Hammel has allowed 10 runs in the first inning of his 15 starts this season.
Hardy's hit a two-out solo shot in the second, his 15th, to cut it to 2-1, but the Blue Jays got a run in the fifth on Kawasaki's two-out RBI single.
Nate McLouth singled to open the sixth and Nick Markakis drew a one-out walk. McLouth scored on Adam Jones ' base hit and Davis followed with his third homer in the past two games.
Davis had two homers and five RBIs in Wednesday's 13-3 win over Detroit.
Encarnacion answered with a leadoff drive in the bottom half, his 20th, cutting it to 5-4, but Flaherty's leadoff drive in the seventh restored Baltimore's two-run lead.
Tommy Hunter replaced Hammel to begin the seventh and gave up a leadoff single to Izturis, Two outs later, Kawasaki tied it at 6 by hitting a 1-1 pitch into the right field bullpen.
Kawasaki said he felt like he was dreaming as he circled the bases for his first homer in 247 big league at bats.
"I would say that it's no surprise but that home run was a surprise," Dickey joked.
Called out of the dugout for a curtain call, Kawasaki bowed several times before tipping his cap.
All three Baltimore homers came off Dickey, who matched a season-worst by allowing three longballs.
Dickey allowed six runs and seven hits in six-plus innings. The right-hander, who walked two and struck out five, has a 6.02 ERA in eight home starts this season.
"I had a pretty good knuckleball going into the game, threw a couple of hangers up there and they got punished in bad situations," Dickey said.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter was ejected in the second for arguing with plate umpire Angel Hernandez. He was replaced by bench coach John Russell .
Davis struck out swinging to begin the inning, but the pitch got away from catcher Thole and Hernandez ruled it a foul ball as Thole threw to first base. Gibbons came out and the umpires huddled, then called Davis out.
That brought out Showalter for an animated discussion with Hernandez. After being tossed, Showalter pointed at all four umpires, then mimicked throwing them out of the game.
"I don't know if the umpires considered the fact that two wrongs don't make a right," said Showalter, who was ejected for the first time this season.
NOTES: Baltimore 3B Manny Machado 's single in the first was his ML-leading 104th hit. ... Reyes went 1-for-4 and scored the game-winning run for Buffalo in the first Triple-A game of his rehab assignment. ... Baltimore activated RHP Miguel Gonzalez off the paternity list and put OF Steve Pearce (left wrist) on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Thursday. Gonzalez will start against Toronto on Saturday. ... Baltimore 2B Brian Roberts (right hamstring) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday.