Orioles-Blue Jays Preview

The Associated Press

Rogers Centre has long been known as a launching pad.

The Baltimore Orioles can attest to that.

Baltimore looks to continue its home-run barrage Saturday afternoon against R.A. Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Orioles (26-22) took over the major league lead in home runs with a season-high four in Friday's 10-6 victory. They have hit at least three homers in four straight games - going deep 13 times during that span - and have multiple home-run contests in seven of the last nine.

"When we got a ball over the plate, it seemed like we didn't miss it,'' said right fielder Nick Markakis, who is batting .375 (15 for 40) in a nine-game hitting streak.

No Oriole has been more responsible for the power surge than Chris Davis, who hit his major league-leading 16th Friday. He's homered in three straight games and five of seven.

Adam Jones has homered in consecutive games, while J.J. Hardy had the biggest blow Friday with a three-run shot in the first inning that gave the Orioles a lead they would never relinquish.

Manny Machado was unable to join the home-run party but did collect three hits for a franchise-record fifth consecutive road game. He's batting .524 (11 for 21) against the Blue Jays (20-28) this season.

The stage may well be set for a few more home runs with Dickey (4-5, 4.50 ERA) taking the mound for the Blue Jays. The right-hander has surrendered nine home runs this season, though he has stymied Baltimore's biggest bats in the past. Davis is 3 for 12 against the knuckleballer with four strikeouts, Hardy is 1 for 9 and Jones 1 for 9 with three strikeouts.

Additionally, Dickey has pitched much better of late for Toronto. Since Seattle roughed him up for seven runs in six innings May 4, he has posted a 2.70 ERA over his last three starts, striking out 20 in 20 innings.

Dickey produced his longest start of the season in a 7-5 win over Tampa Bay on Monday, yielding three runs and four hits in eight innings.

"I've felt like I've been stuck in a quagmire for the last week, two weeks,'' Dickey said. "So it's nice to feel like you've got at least one foot out of it."

The Blue Jays have rewarded Dickey with enhanced run support. After spotting him 12 runs in his first seven starts, they've provided Dickey with 20 over his last three.

Toronto, meanwhile, would do well to get to Baltimore's bullpen, which has posted a 7.71 ERA over the last 10 games. That group has surrendered seven home runs, 21 walks and a .317 average to opposing hitters during that span.

Looking to ward off the bullpen for as long as possible is Freddy Garcia (0-2, 4.84), who rebounded from his worst outing of the season with an improved showing Monday against the Yankees.

After allowing four runs and seven hits over 3 2-3 innings in an 8-4 loss to San Diego, the veteran right-hander limited New York to two runs and three hits in six innings before leaving without a decision in a 6-4 loss.

Garcia is 8-8 with a 5.90 ERA in 19 starts against the Blue Jays. He did, however, end a five-start losing streak at Toronto in a 10-4 win for the Yankees on Aug. 10.

Jose Bautista is 5 for 11 with two homers against Garcia, while Adam Lind is 4 for 8 with a pair of home runs.

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