MINNEAPOLIS -- The Toronto Blue Jays needed just one big inning to take care of the Minnesota Twins on Friday night at Target Field. A five-hit, five-run third led to a 6-5 Toronto victory in the opener of the three-game series.
Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, a former Twin, kept Minnesota hitters off balance for much of the game. He threw 101 pitches in 6 1/3 innings and picked up his 12th win, allowing three runs, seven hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
"A good ballgame," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said in assessing Dickey's performance. "We had that big inning where we scored five and then went silent after that. So it was one of those games where you're just hanging on and you just couldn't get anything else. But he did a nice job for us."
Twins starter Mike Pelfrey pitched better than his line indicated. He threw 102 pitches in six innings, giving up six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. But in the third, he gave up five hits, resulting in five earned runs.
"I just didn't make enough quality pitches," Pelfrey said about the third inning. "I made some mistakes, and we know they hit. It's kind of a wasted day -- I thought my stuff was really good today. I didn't throw enough quality pitches. I guess you tip your hat. I went out there and gave it everything I had, and they beat me."
The Twins managed to mount a comeback. Down by five runs in the seventh, Dickey gave up a leadoff double to Oswaldo Arcia followed by a home run to Chris Colabello.
In the eighth, Brian Dozier singled to right and reached third on a misplay by Moises Sierra. Dozier then scored on Trevor Plouffe's single to pull the Twins to within 6-4.
In the ninth, Minnesota's Josmil Pinto hit his first career home run to make it 6-5. But the game ended with a strikeout-caught stealing double play.
"We were creeping back into it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had a couple nice swings out there. Colabello hit one and then Pinto at the end was pretty excited. We had some good at bats against [Dickey] but he was tough. The knuckleball was jumping all over the place -- it had great movement out there."
Casey Janssen picked up his 28th save for the Blue Jays.
Toronto took a 1-0 in the first inning. Jose Reyes hit the first pitch of the game to short and was able to reach on an error. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a groundout before scoring on Edwin Encarnacion's sacrifice fly to left.
"They're all playing good," Gibbons said of the Blue Jays' team effort. "They're all pitching in one way or the other. They're doing a nice job. This is their opportunity and they're trying to take advantage of it."
After the Blue Jays scored a run in the first, the Twins came back in the second to tie the score on a double by Plouffe and singles by Arcia and Colabello.
The Jays regained the lead in the third with three straight hits. Anthony Gose doubled and scored on Reyes' single to left. Toronto boosted its lead when Pelfrey walked Encarnacion before Brett Lawrie knocked in two runs with a single to center. Sierra drove in two more with a double for a 6-1 lead.
"It's always nice to kind of get a cushion that allows you to do some things that maybe you wouldn't normally do," Dickey said. "I threw a lot of fastballs tonight intentionally to get me back into some counts. You know that they're probably going to try to be a little bit more patient at that point. So it's nice, but every inning you think to yourself it's a 0-0 game so you don't become complacent."
The Twins eventually made it close, but in the end, the game came down to the one inning.
"That was it," Gardenhire said of the third inning. "Pelfrey couldn't make a pitch and he will tell you the same thing. In that inning, he got the ball up and it kind of snowballed on him. Other than that his performance was good. You can't take away the inning; you can't take away the runs."
NOTES: Through four games in September before Friday, the Twins were hitting .320, the third-best average in baseball. ... The Blue Jays have won six of their last eight games and eight of their last 11 after a season-high seven-game losing streak. ... Toronto has won six of the last seven games against Minnesota and 18 of the last 23 games between the teams (since 2012). ... Since being acquired for Justin Morneau on Aug. 31, Alex Presley is 8-for-23 (.348) with two doubles, a homer and five RBIs in five games for the Twins.