By Dave Campbell, AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS — R.A. Dickey has found a rhythm late in this lost season for Toronto.
The Blue Jays are buried in last place, but Dickey hasn’t given up.
Dickey pitched into the seventh inning, and the Blue Jays hung on for a 6-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
“I feel good. I feel like I’ve gotten stronger as the year has gone on. I feel like I’ve been able to carry my workload just fine,” Dickey said. “I’ve got four more starts left, and hopefully I’ll be able to log a lot more innings.”
Dickey is three full innings from reaching the 200-inning mark for a third straight season.
Winning his third straight start, Dickey gave up seven hits and three runs to a Twins team he was a reliever for in 2009.
He struck out four and walked one to beat former New York Mets teammate Mike Pelfrey after losing to him in Toronto in July.
“You set some goals for yourself, and hopefully you can get above 200 innings and win close to 15 games,” Dickey said. “Those are all good benchmarks, but at this point you still have to be careful not to get too far ahead of yourself.”
Jose Reyes reached base all four times and sparked a five-run second against Pelfrey (5-11) with an RBI single. Brett Lawrie hit a two-run single and Moises Sierra followed with a two-run double in that inning.
“They’re doing a nice job,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of the influx of young players in the lineup. “This is their opportunity, and they’re trying to take advantage of it.”
Casey Janssen gave up a home run to rookie catcher Josmil Pinto in the ninth, but he closed it out for his 28th save in 30 tries on a strikeout-caught stealing double play.
“Casey bends sometimes, but he doesn’t break,” Gibbons said.
After acquiring the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner from the Mets in a seven-player trade, one of many bold moves last winter, this season hasn’t gone the way the Blue Jays or the 38-year-old knuckleballer wanted despite the arrival of several high-profile players. Only lowly Houston has a higher team ERA in the majors.
Lately, they’ve been a little better. This was Toronto’s eighth victory in the past 11 games. Over Dickey’s past eight turns, effectively changing speeds more than usual, he’s 4-1 with a 3.02 ERA. Blue Jays starters are 8-2 with a 2.93 ERA in the past 11 games.
With Justin Morneau now playing for Pittsburgh and Joe Mauer still on the disabled list due to concussion symptoms, there wasn’t much resistance for Dickey.
Chris Colabello, the fill-in for Morneau at first base, had three RBIs. Pinto had two more hits and is 9 for 14 to start his career.
With two on and two out after an RBI single by Trevor Plouffe in the eighth against Dustin McGowan, Colabello came up as the go-ahead run. But he struck out on a full-count fastball from the right-hander.
“After facing a guy who’s not quite overpowering your first three at-bats,” Colabello said of facing McGowan after Dickey. “I didn’t really get much to hit that at-bat, but I think I would have liked to have had a little bit better at-bat in general.”
In the seventh, after Oswaldo Arcia doubled, Dickey’s left leg slipped on the dirt and rolled underneath him during one of his deliveries to Colabello.
A couple of pitches later, Colabello, the International League MVP despite playing only 89 games for Triple-A Rochester, smacked a 2-1 fastball into the bullpen behind left-center field to bring the Twins within three runs. Dickey said he overexposed that pitch, working with such a big lead early.
When Gibbons pulled Dickey with one out, the right-hander was shaking his head as he walked by.
“I felt like I could’ve gone seven innings very easily. I had a little lapse there in the seventh, but I didn’t feel like things were spinning out of control,” Dickey said. “But at the end of the day it’s his call, and I respect that.”
While full counts, frustrated pacing around the mound and sub-six-inning starts have been the story of Pelfrey’s summer, he turned a corner in August.
That progress was gone by the second inning, when the Blue Jays battered his pitches all over the outfield. He steadied himself and retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced, but the damage was done. Pelfrey completed six innings, giving up six hits and six runs, five earned. He struck out seven and walked two.
“He’s a workhorse. He’s always been that guy,” Dickey said, adding: “Kudos to him for kind of gutting one out.”
NOTES: Twins GM Terry Ryan on Mauer returning this season: “I don’t think there’s any doubt that’s going to happen.” ... SS Pedro Florimon had two errors, one fielding and one throwing. ... The Blue Jays are 9-3 all time at Target Field. ... The Twins will send RHP Kevin Correia (9-10, 4.18 ERA) to the mound on Saturday night, and LHP J.A. Happ (3-5, 5.54 ERA) will pitch for the Blue Jays.