BOSTON (AP) R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball is proving to be quite elusive these days.
Dickey pitched into the eighth inning and Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer, carrying the Toronto Blue Jays to a much-needed 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.
”We’ve said before that it’s kind of a `hit and miss pitch,”’ Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. ”Some pitches flatten out and some hang more than others. A lot of it is the luck of the draw, too.”
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Dickey (12-12) allowed one run and six hits. The knuckleballer was pulled after Mookie Betts’ leadoff double in the eighth.
Dickey improved 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last three starts and 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA against Boston this season.
With his pitch dancing in a light breeze, he had a number of Boston’s hitters taking big swings that led to many misses, weak grounders or popups.
”As far as a mechanical adjustment, it’s nothing that’s outstanding,” Dickey said of his recent run. ”You’re always working on your trade.”
Adam Lind added three hits for the Blue Jays, who dropped the first two games of the series after five consecutive wins. The Blue Jays were six games behind Seattle for the AL’s second wild card coming into the day.
Xander Bogaerts had an RBI single for the defending World Series champion Red Sox, who were eliminated from the AL East race by Baltimore’s 7-5 win at Tampa Bay.
Boston’s Rubby De La Rosa (4-6) gave up three runs and seven hits in four-plus innings. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in his last five starts.
”I thought prior to the fifth inning he used all his pitches well,” Boston manager John Farrell said. ”He pitched out of a couple of jams, continued to show very good poise. The 2-0 slider to Bautista, unfortunately, nicks him for three runs.”
Brett Cecil worked a hitless eighth and Casey Janssen tossed a perfect ninth for his 22nd save.
Bautista chased De La Rosa with his 31st homer, a drive over the Green Monster seats and completely out of Fenway Park.
”Yeah, I missed that pitch, tried to throw that pitch like away to him so it’s not in the middle,” De La Rosa said.
Boston’s hitters had little luck with Dickey early on, collecting just three singles in the first five innings. Jackie Bradley Jr. had the hardest hit ball, a deep drive to the wall in center that was caught with two runners on in the second.
Dickey made his 30th start of the season. It’s his fourth straight with 30 or more.
”He’s very durable and gave us what we needed today,” Gibbons said.
Bautista has 20 career homers at Fenway, second-most of any active opponent. He went 3 for 4 while extending his hitting streak to 11 games.
Blue Jays: 1B Edwin Encarnacion was the designated hitter after being lifted for a pinch runner late in Saturday’s loss. He has been bothered by a right quad injury.
Red Sox: Boston 1B Mike Napoli and INF/OF Brock Holt both were out of the lineup after feeling ill the past couple of days. Holt left Friday’s game early and Napoli departed on Saturday. Farrell said both were feeling ”much better.” DH David Ortiz had a planned day off, but Farrell said they also were ”managing that right foot he fouled a couple of balls off recently.” Two weeks ago, Ortiz went down hard and left the game after fouling a ball off his foot. He was out of the lineup for two games.
Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (9-5, 3.83 ERA) is slated to go against RHP Jacob Turner (5-8, 5.54 ERA) on Monday when Toronto opens a three-game series at home against the Cubs.
Red Sox: RHP Joe Kelly (1-1, 3.89 ERA) is scheduled to start the opener of a three-game set in Fenway against AL East-leading Baltimore. Miguel Gonzalez (8-7, 3.38 ERA) gets the ball for the Orioles.
THREE KNUCKLEBALLERS IN THE PARK
Dickey and Boston reliever Steven Wright both mostly throw knuckleballs and pitched in the game. Former Red Sox RHP Tim Wakefield watched from the press box.
Wright pitched five shutout innings, allowing two hits.
”To be honest with you. He had a better knuckleball than I did tonight,” Dickey said of Wright.
The Red Sox said in their postgame notes that Dickey and Wright became the first knuckleballers to face each other in the majors since Wakefield started and Dickey entered in relief with Minnesota on April 22, 2009.