Manny Machado hit a key two-run single during Baltimore’s four-run second inning Tuesday to lift the Orioles past Toronto. (GAIL BURTON/AP)

The last time the Baltimore Orioles faced knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, they were mystified by pitches with so little spin that you can nearly make out Bud Selig’s signature on the baseball.

But on Tuesday, the Orioles battered the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner at Camden Yards in their first meeting against him as a member of the bolstered Toronto Blue Jays.

The Orioles batted around in a four-run second inning against Dickey, slapping his fluttering knuckleball around the holes in Toronto’s infield and then holding on for a 4-3 win.

The win, which was the Orioles’ fifth in their last six games, also sealed their fifth series win in seven series and their fourth against AL East opponents. It also marked the first time this season that the Orioles (12-8) reached four games over .500.

“We have a lot of bridges to cross, but I’d rather see that than the other way,” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said. “There’s another challenge around the corner, and I’m proud of the way they’re taking on all of them. We know how good Toronto’s going to be, and Tampa and New York and Boston. You’ve just got to keep plugging along trying to do what you do best.”

Last June with the Mets, Dickey pitched a one-hit shutout against the Orioles, striking out 13. But on Tuesday, the Orioles got to Dickey early. They opened the second inning with three singles, none of them hit especially hard, but damaging nonetheless.

The biggest hit was Manny Machado’s two-out, two-run single that capped the rally.

Adam Jones opened the inning by hitting a slow grounder that hugged the third-base line. Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie scooped the ball, but threw it away, sending Jones to second.

Chris Davis followed with a bloop single into shallow center field that put runners at the corners, and Matt Wieters slapped an RBI single through the hole on the left side of the infield to give the Orioles a quick 1-0 lead.

Three batters later, after Dickey loaded the bases on a walk to Ryan Flaherty, Nolan Reimold’s sacrifice fly scored another run.

But it was Machado’s two-out, two-run single that broke the game wide open. After Dickey walked Nate McLouth to load the bases again, Machado took the first pitch up the middle past a diving Munenori Kawasaki at shortstop to score Matt Wieters and Flaherty.

“It's tough to hit that ball,” Machado said. “It's not an easy pitch to hit. We took advantage of his mistakes with the bases loaded. We came up with big hits, scored one, then we got more. Against someone like that, a Cy Young winner, you have to go up there and take advantage of all his mistakes he makes, and we did a good job of that today.”

Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez made one costly mistake against the Blue Jays – a three-run homer by Edwin Encarnacion in the sixth that came after a pair of two-out walks – but he still recorded his third quality start in four outings this season. Gonzalez yielded five hits over six innings with four strikeouts and three walks.

Gonzalez (2-1) has produced quality starts in seven of his last eight starts dating back to last season, all of them coming against AL East teams. He has 12 quality starts in 14 career starts against division opponents.

Gonzalez made relatively easy work of the Blue Jays early, holding Toronto scoreless for five innings until running into trouble in the sixth.

Encarnacion blasted a first-pitch delivery into the left-field stands, making it a one-run game. That came after Gonzalez issued back-to-back walks to Adam Lind and Jose Bautista.

“Instead of staying on my toes, I was on my heels that sixth inning,” Gonzalez said. “Balls were up. [I was] just trying to do too much when I really didn't need to. Good thing we got the win. We got Dickey early, which is really, really tough to get him, especially with that knuckleball. We are not used to seeing a lot.”

Toronto (8-13) then placed the tying run on third when Melky Cabrera’s drive to the right-center field gap hit off the fence and then caromed away into right field. Cabrera made a wide turn at third before holding up as the relay throw went awry but was backed up by Gonzalez up the third-base line.

Gonzalez got out of the inning with a hard fly out to left, giving the Orioles their fourth start of six or more innings in the past five games.

Dickey (2-3), who has struggled with his new team, allowed just one hit after the second inning, but he also walked a season-high five batters. He still lasted six innings, allowing four runs on six hits with four strikeouts, a wild pitch and a passed ball.

Acquired to a part of Toronto’s massive offseason upgrade, Dickey has a 9.28 ERA in two starts against AL East teams this season.

The Blue Jays had runners at the corners with two outs in the eighth, but reliever Pedro Strop struck out Cabrera to end the threat.

Closer Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth for his eighth save of the season.

Baltimore Sun