TORONTO (AP) — Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was baffled by how quickly his fortunes changed against the Chicago White Sox.
Jose Abreu hit two solo homers, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo also connected, and the White Sox survived a shaky ninth inning to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 Friday night for their second win in nine games.
Dickey (6-7) lost his third straight start, allowing five runs and five hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out a season-high nine.
“Tonight was a very bizarre outing,” Dickey said. “I don’t know how else to explain it.”
The four home runs off Dickey were the most he’d allowed since giving up six against Detroit on April 6, 2006, his first major league start as a knuckleball pitcher.
The barrage came on a night when Dickey didn’t allow a hit through his first four innings.
“I thought his knuckleball was as good as it’s been,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura agreed.
“Guys were coming back saying he was throwing a good one,” Ventura said of Dickey.
Dickey’s night changed for the worse when Abreu led off the fifth with a second-deck homer, ending an 18-inning scoreless streak for the White Sox. Two outs later, Viciedo made it 2-0 with an opposite field shot to right.
Dickey got the side in order in the sixth, but Abreu punished him again with another leadoff drive in the seventh, his 25th. It was the fourth multihomer game of the season for Abreu, who is tied with Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion and Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz for most homers in the majors.
Abreu is the second player to have four multihomer games in his first 67 career games. The other was Atlanta’s Bob Horner in 1978.
“It’s not a surprise,” Ventura said. “When he gets it on the barrel, it just seems to continue to go. It’s like helium balls, they just continue to float.”
The homers also moved Abreu more than halfway toward beating Mark McGwire’s rookie home run record of 49, set with Oakland in 1987.
Adam Dunn walked and Ramirez followed with a two-run drive off the left field foul screen, ending Dickey’s outing on a frustrating note.
“It’s just a really bizarre outing to be able to strike out nine guys, get all those swings and misses on what I felt like was a really, really good knuckleball,” Dickey said.
Dickey has allowed 10 home runs over his past five starts, accounting for 13 of the 14 runs he’s allowed in that span.
“He’s going to give them up,” Gibbons said. “That’s what that pitch does. You get a lot of fly balls on that pitch. It’s a tough ballpark to pitch in.”
Encarnacion also homered, going back to back with Dioner Navarro in the sixth, but that was all the Blue Jays would manage against White Sox left-hander John Danks, who won for the fourth time in five starts. Danks (7-6) came in 1-4 with a 6.46 ERA in six career starts against the Blue Jays, but was better in this one, allowing two runs and five hits in six innings. He walked none and struck out two.
Javy Guerra pitched the seventh and Zack Putnam worked the eighth before Ronald Belisario gave up a leadoff homer by pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus in the ninth. Belisario got Juan Francisco to ground out, but was replaced by Eric Surkamp after consecutive singles by Munenori Kawasaki and Anthony Gose.
Surkamp was replaced by Jake Petricka after pitch-hitter Adam Lind reached on a fielding error by third baseman Conor Gillapsie, loading the bases for Jose Reyes, who brought home a run with a fielder’s choice. Petricka responded by getting Melky Cabrera to ground out for his second save.
NOTES: Nine straight White Sox games have been decided by three runs or fewer. … The game was halted for four minutes in the second inning by an alarm and flashing lights in one of the center field restaurants. Play resumed before the flashing lights were turned off. … Chicago OF Adam Eaton, who left Thursday’s game in the first inning with left leg cramps, was held out of the lineup. … White Sox LH Chris Sale (6-1) faces Blue Jays RH Marcus Stroman (4-2) on Saturday.