Martin muscles 1st-place Blue Jays over Angels

Martin muscles 1st-place Blue Jays over Angels

TORONTO -- Russell Martin continued his torrid hitting to pace Toronto's offense, while R.A. Dickey notched another strong outing to lead the Blue Jays over the Angels, 7-2, on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.

Though he'd normally receive a day off with Dickey on the mound, Martin went 3-for-3 out of the DH spot and drove in a pair of runs to help the Blue Jays open their six-game homestand with a victory. Michael Saunders also added his 21st home run of the season, while Troy Tulowitzki continued his strong August with an RBI double as part of Toronto's 10-hit attack.

"He's smoking hot right now," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said about Martin. "He was due for that, he's been a good hitter his whole career. He's really seeing the ball. He probably likes DHing because it's not as physically demanding, so that can never hurt."

Dickey kept the Angels at bay all evening, tossing 6 2/3 innings and limiting Los Angeles to just two runs on Nick Buss' first career Major League home run. After a difficult month of July, the veteran knuckleballer has allowed two runs or fewer in three of his last four starts. With the win the Blue Jays keep a share of the top spot in the American League East, as the Red Sox defeated Rays at Tropicana Field.

Dickey's strong start

"It's all about the process and trying to execute the mechanics I need to in order to produce good results," Dickey said. "All I can focus on is execution and process, and tonight the result was favorable, but I've been pretty close all year in a number of outings, I just haven't had the same results. I've had better knuckleballs this year and given up more runs, it's just the nature of the beast sometimes."

Dickey guts out win to continue strong August

Angels starter Tyler Skaggs continued to struggle on Tuesday, lasting four-plus innings while giving up four runs and walking a season-high five batters. Skaggs fell to 0-3 with 19 earned runs allowed in 17 2/3 innings over his last four starts.

"Unfortunately, kind of the same stuff we've seen his last couple starts: his stuff looked good, definitely threw too many pitches behind in the count," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "At times he got [ahead] in the count and had trouble putting guys away, but hopefully Tyler's going to make some adjustments, because his stuff is good, it's just a matter of making some pitches and putting some guys away.

"Right now, he's having a tough time doing that. The walks obviously played big tonight. Can't give that club that many looks, and it played a big part tonight."

Russell the muscle: Martin put the Blue Jays on the board in the bottom of the first when he slapped a changeup off Skaggs into right field to bring home Darwin Barney. Martin would later add another run after earning a bases-loaded walk in the top of the third inning. Toronto's starting backstop has been one of baseball's best hitters over the past week, going 15-for-32 with 13 RBIs in his past eight games.

"Russell has always had that knack of getting the big hit at the right time," Gibbons said. "He does something good with the bat when you need it. I've seen that so, so many times."

Martin's bases-loaded walk

Going deep: Rookie left fielder Buss got the Angels on the board in the second, taking Dickey's 2-2 knuckleball over the wall in right field for a two-run home run. The 29-year-old's first homer came in his 50th MLB at-bat.

"It was great. It was fun to knock that out and get it done in my first at-bat," Buss said. "I haven't seen a knuckleball before, but talking to the guys, they did a great job of explaining what it was going to be like, what to look for and how his ball moves." More >

Buss' first MLB homer

In a pinch: With regular second baseman Devon Travis day to day due to an injured ligament in his right hand, Barney got the nod in his place. Barney finished 2-for-4 with a walk out of the leadoff spot, and he scored two of Toronto's seven runs.

"It's similar to hitting ninth in this order," Barney said about hitting leadoff. "You're trying to get on base for the guys in the heart of our lineup, and obviously that was the goal today -- to have good at-bats and find a way on base. I was able to do that."

"We're both really old. I think that's more a show of respect. It's hard to stay in this game as long as he has, and to kind of come up alongside of him from 2001 until now, I think that was just a little tip of respect, and I really appreciated it" -- Dickey, on Albert Pujols tipping his cap towards him prior to his first at-bat of the night. Pujols finished 0-for-3 and is 0-for-13 in his career against Dickey.

Pujols salutes Dickey

Angels: Matt Shoemaker will look to win back-to-back starts for the first time since mid-July when he gets the ball on Wednesday night at 4:07 p.m. PT. The 29-year-old right-hander allowed two earned runs on five hits while striking out five his last time out in a 6-4 win over the Seattle Mariners.

Blue Jays: Marco Estrada gets the ball on Wednesday at 7:07 p.m. ET for the Blue Jays in the middle game of their three-game series against the Angels. Estrada is coming off his shortest outing of the season, allowing a season-high five earned runs and three home runs in four innings against the Yankees. The 33-year-old ended up with a no-decision as Toronto came back to earn a 12-6 victory.

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Dhiren Mahiban is a contributor to and covered the Angels on Tuesday.

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for based in Toronto.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.