TORONTO -- R.A. Dickey says he has rediscovered the velocity on his knuckleball, allowing to him to have fun on the mound once again.
Dickey went seven innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits while striking out four as the Toronto Blue Jays opened a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers with an 8-3 victory on Monday.
After a slow start, Dickey (8-8) is 6-3 in his last 10 outings.
"I threw a knuckleball at 81 mph, I threw a lot at 80 mph, I threw an 85 mph," Dickey said. "All those velocities are tops for the year. "That's the velocity I could count on last year. You can get away with a lot more mistakes when the velocity is up there."
Added manager John Gibbons: "I see more bite in his knuckleball than we've seen in the past. It's in the zone, he's consistently staying in the zone. He's on a nice little roll."
Toronto (41-41) won for only the third time in its last eight games.
Detroit (43-38) reached the midpoint of their schedule having lost three straight games.
Mark DeRosa hit Luke Putkonen's 0-and-1 pitch deep to right field for a three-run home run, giving the Blue Jays an 8-2 lead in the fourth inning.
"It's the first ball that I've hit in a while," said DeRosa, who missed Sunday's game because of a neck injury. "I was well aware of the fact I was mired in a pretty good slump an not being able to play everyday, it's a little tough to get out of it.
"But it was nice to hit a tack-on a three-run homer and kind of give Dickey and the bullpen a nice breather."
Dickey, who beat the Tigers for the third straight time and first since 2011, entered Monday coming off one of his better starts as a Blue Jay, a two-hitter in a 3-0 victory over Tampa Bay last Wednesday.
"That's when it's really fun for me, is when I can use all my weapons," Dickey said. "It's encouraging and it's good for our team because I can usually handle a lineup more than three times through.
"That's what enables me to go one, two, three, four times through a lineup without them really being able to hone in on one particular speed or one particular movement."
Omar Infante got Detroit to within 8-3 with a solo home run in the ninth.
Toronto (41-41) opened a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the third.
The Blue Jays already led, 1-0, when Jose Reyes led off with a solo home run to the second deck, his third of the season.
After Rajai Davis doubled, Jose Alvarez issued walks to Jose Bautista and Colby Rasmus loading the bases for J.P. Arencibia, who singled home two runs. Rasmus scored on Maicer Izturis' sacrifice fly.
Alvarez (1-2) went three innings, allowing four earned runs and six hits while striking out four.
"Alvarez was up with the ball and he also had a tough time working their left-handed hitters." Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "That should be to his strength.
"He just didn't have real good control and he left the ball up. Of course, you pay for that against good big league hitters."
Detroit got within 5-2 in the fourth.
Prince Fielder took Dickey to right for a solo home run, for his 14th of the season. Two batters later, Omar Infante's ground-rule double scored Victor Martinez.
"Everybody's offense goes into a funk from time to time and we're in a funk right now," Leyland said. "We've just got to get ourselves out of it. We'll hit. We've got too many good hitters not to hit.
"A normal person sees our lineup and is amazed maybe, but when you're in the game and in the business for a long time, you know that those things happen.
"We've been in one of those funks for a while but we'll break out of it."
The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the second when Munenori Kawasaki's single scored Izturis from third. Josh Thole tried to score from second on the play, but was thrown out by Andy Dirks.
NOTES: Designated hitter/first baseman Edwin Encarnacion of Toronto was a late scratch because of left hamstring soreness. He was replaced by J.P. Arencibia. ... Toronto designated hitter, Adam Lind, who injured his back Sunday in Boston, did not play Monday, but is hoping to return Tuesday or Wednesday. ... Since winning 11 straight games, the Blue Jays have lost five of eight. ... Detroit is in the middle of an 11-game trip, which concludes with a four-game series in Cleveland beginning Friday. ... Entering Monday's game the Tigers had won 16 of their last 25 meetings with the Jays dating to September 2009. ... The Tigers entered Monday leading the American League with a .280 bating average. ... Right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who has been sidelined since June 16 because of a right shoulder strain, was scheduled to begin an injury rehab assignment Monday.