Just when it appeared that Toronto's hitters might be kept at bay, the Blue Jays managed to break out late in their series opener against the Detroit Tigers.
After producing 104 runs during a 16-4 stretch, Toronto (35-24) was held scoreless for the first eight innings Tuesday at Comerica Park. The Blue Jays, batting .305 in their last nine contests, had just two hits before getting three during a five-run ninth inning in a 5-3 victory.
Brett Lawrie hit a three-run homer and Jose Bautista had the tiebreaking single for Toronto, which is batting .375 (24 for 64) with runners in scoring position in the last seven games.
"We've got faith in everybody on our team, and we were able to get the win against a really good ballclub," pitcher Drew Hutchison said.
Detroit closer Joe Nathan was charged with a season-high four runs in a non-save situation, raising his ERA to 6.86.
"I'm at a loss for words. I thought I threw pretty well," Nathan said. "I've got to be better. A lot of bad luck out there, too. But the biggest thing is another loss for the team."
While seeking their 10th win in 11 road contests, the Blue Jays are looking for a better outing from Dickey (5-4, 4.30 ERA). The knuckleballer gave up five runs and 10 hits in five-plus innings Thursday in an 8-6 loss in 10 innings to Kansas City.
Dickey was 4-1 with a 2.52 ERA in his prior six outings, and will try to return to form with another strong start against Detroit (31-23). The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four versus the Tigers and gave up two runs in seven innings in his only matchup last season, an 8-3 win July 1.
Rick Porcello (8-2, 3.68) will take the ball for the struggling Tigers, losers of three straight overall and seven of nine at home.
Porcello had a better outing Thursday in Oakland than in a 12-2 drubbing to Texas on May 24 but walked a career-high six in a 5-4 victory. He gave up two runs over 5 2-3 innings after getting tagged for eight runs and 12 hits in his 5 1-3 innings against the Rangers.
"It's no secret I was all over the place," Porcello said after Thursday's victory. "I was fortunate to get out of some of the innings."
Porcello, who has allowed two runs or fewer in five of his last six outings, gave up four over five innings in his lone matchup with Toronto last year and did not get a decision in an 8-6 loss April 10. He's 2-3 with a 4.89 ERA in six career starts against the Blue Jays.
Bautista, batting .419 during a nine-game hit streak, is 6 for 13 lifetime against Porcello. Melky Cabrera is 8 for 17 and Edwin Encarnacion is 5 for 12 with four doubles.
Torii Hunter is 6 for 15 with four doubles and a triple against Dickey in his career.