TORONTO -- Faster, better, stronger. R.A. Dickey looked no worse for wear pitching on short rest.
The veteran knuckleballer continued to roll on Sunday with another well-pitched effort, scattering just a pair of singles with six strikeouts over seven scoreless frames to earn his third straight win in the Blue Jays' 5-2 victory over the Royals.
Dickey, who's completed at least seven innings in three straight starts and four times in his last five outings, said the secret to his recent success is speed.
"I think the one thing you've seen over the last two-and-a-half months is my velocities have been higher, and today it was more of that," said Dickey, who's allowed just five earned runs over his last five starts and entered Sunday with a 2.96 ERA since the beginning of June.
"Whenever I'm throwing the knuckleball into the 80s, those are strikeout knuckleballs usually. So it was good to be able to reach back and have that without really having to labor to do it."
Dickey's efficient 101-pitch outing was especially impressive given he was throwing on three days' rest for just the seventh time in his career as a starter. Having entered Sunday with a bloated 6.96 ERA in those outings, the right-hander said he preserved energy this week by not throwing his typical side session between starts.
"My pitch allows me to be a little bit more resilient than I would be if I was a conventional pitcher," he said. "I just tried to be into every pitch moment to moment and it worked out."
Dickey, who surrendered a leadoff single to start the game and didn't allow another hit until the sixth, walked two and limited the Royals to just one baserunner in scoring position.
With the Blue Jays firmly in the thick of the playoff hunt and chasing down an American League Wild Card spot, manager John Gibbons said Dickey delivered the type of performance that the club has long expected from the former National League Cy Young Award winner.
"As good as we've ever seen him," Gibbons said. "He's on a nice little roll right here. Even though he's a knuckleballer, it's not easy to come back on short rest."
Dickey said Sunday's outing capped the most exciting week for the Blue Jays since the spring of 2013, when the club was brimming with confidence following several key acquisitions the previous winter. After a wild seven days that included a pair of blockbuster trades and 20 percent turnover on the roster, Dickey said it was a special feeling throwing in front of an energized crowd against the team with the best record in the AL.
"We all try to make one game just like the next because mentally it's important that no game is more than important than the other game," he said. "But today had a different feel to it in my mind, so it was fun to perform well.
"Taking three of four from a team like that, which is a really, really good baseball team -- those were four really good baseball games that we played. We all had a great time competing the last four days."
Dan Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.