TORONTO (AP) - R.A. Dickey kept `em guessing by deftly changing speeds for much of the day. The final result was consecutive wins for the knuckleballer for the first time in almost two months.
Brett Lawrie drove in the tiebreaking run with a bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning, helping Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Kansas City Royals 4-2 on Saturday.
Dickey (11-12) allowed two runs and seven hits in eight innings to earn back-to-back wins for the first time since he beat Tampa Bay on June 26 and Detroit on July 1.
``An observant person probably saw that I changed speeds quite a bit today,' Dickey said. ``I was able to keep the slower knuckleball down and get some outs with it. Anytime you can add and subtract speed in the strike zone, you're going to have a better chance of your opponent mis-hitting balls. That was helpful for me today. I took some risks and they paid off.'
Royals manager Ned Yost said the changing speeds made the right-hander even tougher to handle.
``He got us out front,' Yost said. ``We just couldn't grab a hold of it.'
Casey Janssen finished for his 26th save in 28 chances, with pinch runner Chris Getz thrown out trying to steal second for the final out.
Trailing 2-1, Toronto batted around while scoring three unearned runs in the eighth against four relievers. Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar helped the Blue Jays with a key error.
Pinch hitter Munenori Kawasaki led off with a single against Kelvin Herrera (5-7), and went to second on a bloop hit by Jose Reyes. Will Smith came on to face Ryan Goins, who hit a potential double-play grounder that Escobar couldn't handle, allowing Kawasaki to score from second.
Escobar said his line of sight was blocked by Kawasaki on the crucial play.
``I make that play all the time,' Escobar said. ``I didn't see the ball, that's why I missed that. The guy blocked me.'
Edwin Encarnacion walked to load the bases and Aaron Crow came on to face pinch hitter Mark DeRosa, who struck out on three pitches. Lawrie and Rajai Davis each followed with four-pitch walks, giving the Blue Jays a 4-2 lead.
``I just lost command of the strike zone which in that situation really can't happen,' Crow said. ``Throwing eight straight balls, it's a terrible way to lose a game.'
Dickey said he felt bad for Crow as the balls piled up.
``It's just such a helpless feeling,' Dickey said. ``Even though you're glad, you certainly can relate to losing the feel for a minute or two. But I wasn't going to frown too long about it, that's for sure.'
Upset at the ball four call to Davis, Yost was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Will Little when he came out to replace Crow with Tim Collins, who retired pinch hitter J.P. Arencibia to end the inning.
``I'd just seen enough,' Yost said. ``You don't miss a pitch in a crucial situation like that. If he throws a ball, OK. But I think the replay will show it was definitely a strike.'
Yost, who was ejected for the first time this season, also argued with Little over a call at first base in Friday's 3-2 loss.
The Royals, who entered play 6 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the second AL wild-card berth, lost their second straight following a five-game winning streak.
Kansas City failed to capitalize on a strong start by right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, who allowed one run and eight hits in seven innings.
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer went 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI in his 50th multihit game of the season. Among AL players, only Mike Trout and Adrian Beltre have more.
Kansas City outfielder Alex Gordon had two assists, throwing out Goins at third in the first and getting Josh Thole at second in the seventh. Gordon boosted his major league-leading total to 14. It's the fifth time he's had two assists in a game.
Kansas City opened the scoring in the second. Salvador Perez drew a one-out walk, moved up on Jarrod Dyson's single and scored on a base hit by Escobar.
The Royals made it 2-0 in the third when former Blue Jays infielder Emilio Bonifacio led off with a triple and scored on Hosmer's single through the left side.
The Blue Jays ran into another out on the bases in the third when Reyes was thrown by right fielder David Lough as he tried to stretch a single into a double. Escobar made a diving tag to retire Reyes for the second out.
Toronto broke through against Guthrie in the seventh when Rajai Davis hit a two-out double and scored on Josh Thole's single. The inning ended when Gordon threw out Thole trying to stretch his hit into a double.
``We're lucky that didn't come back to bite us,' Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
NOTES: The Blue Jays will activate RHP Steve Delabar (shoulder) and RHP Dustin McGowan (shoulder) off the disabled list Sunday. ... Goins' first-inning single gave him an eight-game hit streak to start his career, matching Jesse Barfield's 1981 Blue Jays record. ... Encarnacion's fourth-inning single was the 1,000th hit of his career.
The Associated Press News Service
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