ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- R.A. Dickey looked once again like the unhittable Cy Young winner of 2012 as the knuckleballer pitched the Toronto Blue Jays to a 3-0 win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday at Tropicana Field.
Dickey carried a perfect game into the fifth inning and wound up with a two-hit shutout, his first of the year.
Dickey (7-8, 4.72) has had an up-and-down season after winning the National League Cy Young Award for the New York Mets last season, entering Wednesday's start with a losing record and an ERA above 5.00. He was plagued by injuries in the early going and ended May with a 5.18 ERA.
After flashing his Cy Young form on June 5 against the San Francisco Giants, allowing two hits in 8 1/3 innings, he sandwiched another solid start between two ugly outings.
But he bounced back again Wednesday, shutting down the Rays with startling efficiency in a two-hour, 10-minute affair. He needed only 93 pitches to carve up the Rays and was backed by the middle of the Blue Jays' powerful lineup as Toronto avoided a sweep against the Rays.
Tampa Bay also got a solid start from Roberto Hernandez, who is having an equally frustrating season, but he simply could not match Dickey.
Hernandez (4-9, 4.98) allowed three runs, six hits and a walk while striking out five in eight innings. He gave up one run in the fourth inning when Jose Bautista shot a double into right field and scored on Melky Cabrera's two-out single to center.
Adam Lind put Toronto up by two runs in the sixth, crushing a full-count pitch well over the center-field fence for his 11th home run of the season.
Hernandez pitched into the ninth, but Edwin Encarnacion immediately chased him by drilling a line drive deep into the left-field bleachers to put the Blue Jays ahead 3-0.
Tampa Bay's first base runner came with one out in the fifth when James Loney rolled a ground ball past shortstop Jose Reyes to break up Dickey's perfect game. But the Rays didn't manage much more, failing to get a runner to second base until Desmond Jennings' walk and a steal in the seventh.
NOTES: The Blue Jays officially activated Reyes from the 60-day disabled list before Wednesday's game. Reyes was in the starting lineup, batting leadoff. Reyes missed 66 games because of a sprained left ankle he suffered on April 12. With Reyes back in the fold, manager John Gibbons opted to slot Melky Cabrera down in the fifth spot of the lineup. ... Despite Wednesday's loss, the Rays are still 18-0-1 in their last 19 home series against the Blue Jays, including one in Orlando, Fla. ... Rays RHP Brandon Gomes is set to make his second minor-league rehab appearance for Class A Charlotte on Thursday. He began his rehab assignment Monday and has been on the 15-day disabled list with a right lat strain since May 10, retroactive to May 8. ... Rays starting pitchers have worked at least six innings in seven of their last eight games after failing to do so in seven straight games before that. ... The Blue Jays will head to Boston on Thursday to face the Red Sox, sending RHP Chien-Ming Wang (1-0, 2.18 ERA) against LHP Jon Lester (7-4, 4.57). ... After a day off Thursday, the Rays will play host to the Detroit Tigers for three games starting Friday with RHP Alex Colome (1-0, 0.00) squaring off against Detroit RHP Max Scherzer (11-0, 3.05).