Phillies-Blue Jays Preview

The Associated Press

A night after another gem from Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey is now charged with continuing Toronto's success on the mound.

It's his opponent, though, who has been providing such shutdown outings lately.

The Blue Jays will need to disrupt A.J. Burnett's current rhythm Thursday night in Toronto if a fifth straight win and a four-game sweep over the Philadelphia Phillies is in order.

The Blue Jays (17-17) could have Adam Lind back to help in the task. The designated hitter has been out since April with tightness in his lower back, but manager John Gibbons said he could be activated from the 15-day disabled list.

They know they'll have Jose Bautista, whose seventh-inning RBI single in Wednesday's 10-0 win extended his streak of reaching base to 34 games to start the season, the best since Logan Morrison went 34 to begin 2011.

What started as a pitchers' duel between Buehrle and Cliff Lee with the left-handers allowing a total of four hits through six innings quickly shifted Toronto's way in a nine-run seventh.

"I think we all know what this offense can do when they get on a roll," Buehrle told the team's official website. "We have had guys out of the lineup and guys hurt, and we are still producing."

Philadelphia (15-17), which has dropped seven straight to Toronto, managed three hits. Right fielder Marlon Byrd had two of them and is 6 for 10 in the series with a .452 average in his last 11 games.

The Phillies have now been shut out in two of three in the series - which began with a pair of games in Philadelphia - and has scored in one of their last 35 innings.

"For the pitchers going out there, that's a tough task," manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Burnett (2-1, 2.06 ERA), though, is after his third straight win, and his stretch of dominance extends back a few more starts. In his last four, he's 2-0 with a 0.98 ERA and .179 opponents' batting average. In Saturday's 7-2 win over Washington, the veteran right-hander allowed a run and three hits while striking out seven and was removed only because of a rain delay after the sixth inning.

The recent stretch of success has followed his diagnosis of an inguinal hernia, something he'll continue battling.

"It's there," Burnett said after his last start. "It bugged me all day and the next few days it's gone. It comes and goes and it's something I have to deal with."

He'll try to work through it to beat the team he was with from 2006-08. Burnett has gone 1-2 with a 10.31 ERA in his last four starts against the Blue Jays, but hasn't faced them since 2011.

Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are a combined 12 for 28 with five home runs against him, but Burnett has held Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera to 7 for 49.

He's been a strong interleague pitcher since moving back to the National League before the 2012 season, going 5-1 with a 2.78 ERA in nine starts.

Dickey (2-3, 5.01) has settled some in his last three starts, going 1-0 with a 3.44 ERA, though he's still having location issues. In Saturday's 8-6 loss at Pittsburgh, he allowed three runs and five hits while walking four in six-plus innings and didn't factor into the decision.

The knuckleballer is 3-4 with a 2.90 ERA in nine career starts against the Phillies, all of which came as a member of the New York Mets between 2010-12.

Ryan Howard, who had the day off Wednesday, is 3 for 15 against Dickey.

Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie (right hamstring) has been out for two games but is expected to return Thursday or Friday.

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